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Wondering about the best way to organize your recipes?

How many of you have recipes laying all over the place? You find a good one in a magazine or newspaper and rip it out. You find one online and print it out. Then where do you put them? Do you know where they are when you remember to use them? Tossed in a stack with other papers in your kitchen or office? Shoved in one of your cookbooks? Tossed in a drawer to use someday?

Hopefully you can easily organize your recipes using these tips here.

Let’s first talk about all the great sources of recipes.  You may have handwritten recipes from family members, friends or co-workers. You went to a party where they served something great and you asked for the recipe.  Or you have a handwritten recipe from your mom or grandma that holds a special place in your heart.

Some people still subscribe to newspapers and magazines, which are great source of recipes. From appetizers to main courses to desserts & drinks, with beautiful, mouth-watering photos to go along with them, who can resist tearing those recipes out?

Cookbooks…can you ever have too many??? Whether you received them as a gift or you bought them because of the author, beautiful photos, or subject matter, i.e. Every Chocolate Dessert Known to Woman, you keep them lovingly on your shelf waiting for just the right occasion to open them up and create the best dish ever.

Let’s talk now about what those recipes may look like. Aside from a cookbook, you may have recipes handwritten on a piece of paper or on index cards, newspaper or magazine clippings with torn edges or neatly cut out, print-outs from your computer, random notes on scratch paper, or they may just be in your head.

But before you actually organize your recipes, you may want to purge.  If you’re like me, you saved tons of recipes that looked yummy or easy to make. But will you actually ever make them? Do they require some unusual ingredient that you’ll never use again? How many brownie recipes do you need? When was the last time you actually tried something new? This is the time to take a hard look at them and get rid of those you’ll probably never try. Donate or sell cookbooks that you no longer need or want.

Now that you’ve reduced the sheer number of recipes, where should you keep all of them? If you’re reading this, you probably need organization tips. Several options are available to you.

First is a recipe box with cards. These boxes, decorated in various themes, usually hold a 6” x 4” card and may come with tabs so you can sort your recipes by appetizers, sides, main dishes, desserts, etc. These can also hold recipes on scraps or folded up pieces of paper!

Next, you can get a recipe binder. This is a notebook with rings you can open to add plastic protective pages that hold your recipes. You can buy pages that hold index cards or larger pages. Again, these usually come with tabs so you can organize your recipes by type. The plastic pages also protect the recipe as you’re cooking or baking from smudges or greasy fingers.

If you want an inexpensive solution, get a bunch of file folders, mark each one with a type of food, and then place your recipes in its own folder. You can also color code your folders by type.  I used to just throw all those pieces of paper into one big folder. While I thought I was being neat, it wasn’t fun to rummage through all those pieces looking for the one I wanted. Of course, I would find a bunch of other recipes I wanted to try and sometimes forgot all about the one I was searching for!

Cookbooks may be sorted in several ways. A general cookbook will usually be sorted by type of food and have chapters or tabs for each. A cookbook that’s written by a well-known chef/celebrity may sort the recipes by holiday/event or by type of food. A themed cookbook, i.e. best chocolate desserts, or Italian cooking, will only cover one topic.  If you have many cookbooks, you may want to sort them by type or by author, depending on how many you have and where you store them.

Another place people may use to organize their recipes is on their computer, iPad or phone. Can you scan in all your recipes and file them electronically?  I’ve never done this, but I’m sure there are programs or software to store & organize your recipes. Don’t forget about backing up your files so you don’t lose them.

Where to keep your now nicely organized recipes?  Depends on your kitchen.  Here are some places I use—top of my refrigerator for file folders and recipe boxes. I use the cabinet above my microwave for all my cookbooks.  Your space may be different. No room in the kitchen? Do you have room for a small bookshelf nearby?  If you’ve purged many recipes or cookbooks, you may have space for them now. Take a look around your kitchen or a nearby room to find a great place for everything.

Now that you have taken the time to organize all your favorite recipes & cookbooks neatly filed or stored away, don’t you feel better? Take a deep breath and look at what you’ve accomplished. Then…pick a recipe and get cooking!

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