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New Year’s Resolution: Recipe Organization

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This year one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get my recipes organized and under control. I think I thought I would do it for the first week of January.

Keeping my recipes organized is something I’ve just never been able to get a handle on. First of all, I have a ton of recipes. For years I subscribed to Cooking Light, and then for several more years to Everyday Food (really, the best cooking magazine), as well as Taste of Home (which started out at as a joke, but in fact I have clipped many many recipes from there.)  Add in recipes from friends, other magazines, and all the ones I find online and you’ve got thousands of recipes.  While I’d love to be all electronically organized, I really love a handwritten recipe, as well as flipping through pages and looking at pictures.  Basically it’s never going to end up all in one place.

Here are my main places, starting in the upper left and going clockwise:
My recipe box:  This includes recipes on cards as well as recipes that have been torn out of magazines.  Which is a little confusing-why are some torn out recipes here and others in a notebook?  I’d have to say that the recipe box mostly has things I go to over and over again. Mostly, but not necessarily. Peeking up from it in this picture you can see my friend Denise’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread, it’s the only one I use for this. A scrap of paper with 4 ingredients for 3 Bean Salad scribbled on it (after taking this picture I wrote it out properly on a nicer card.) A photocopied recipe from the New York Times magazines many years ago for Chicken Roasted With Sour Cream and Chutney (sooooo good! Basically stir up mayonnaise, sour cream, chutney, lemon juice, and curry powder, pour over chicken breast and bake.) Pear Bread-this is actually in a cookbook I have but it got a special card-great recipe, like a pound cake. North Woods Bean Soup-clipped from Cooking Light many years ago, it’s a favorite for winter soup nights.
My Recipe journal: This lovely book was given to me a long time ago by my friend Perri. See?

I promptly filled up the entire dessert section, a bit of the others, and I have to admit that when I looked through it I realized how many more empty spaces there are.  For example, why didn’t I just write the 3 Bean Salad in there? Because I forgot, that’s why!  Some of my very favorite recipes are in here, such as Sweet Potato Corn Chowder, which has practically faded away.  When I page through it and see the recipes I remember when I ate them and why I put them there, which is very nice.
 When I lived on Martha’s Vineyard I must have cooked this recipe for pasta with seafood for my friend Kathleen and I easily a dozen times.  We loved it and ended up just calling “the dish.”

The Recipe Binder:  This was my solution several years ago to the growing clipping collection.  I taped all my clipped recipes on to pages and then put them in sheet protectors.   It also includes other printed out pages put in there.

My Menu Diary:  This little book has pages where I write down the menus I’ve had for special occasions.  I started it to be sentimental and think that someday it would be a treasure (maybe not as fun as Victorian menus to read, but still), but it quickly became really useful.  Time to bring a dish to Christmas Eve dinner? Hmm…let’s see what I brought last year so I don’t repeat.  I admit that sometimes I forget to write in here, but I can often check here on the blog to see if I’ve written anything.  I’ve just filled it and will have to make another one.

So where do I go from here?  I’m not willing to give up these 4 things and will maintain them.  But, I did pull out all the recipes I use just for Christmas and put them in their own folder:

I pulled out all the baking recipes from the big notebook and put them in their own notebook.

See the cute little letters? I used a friend’s die-cut machine to cut them out. Because half of organization is just looking nice.  So clearly the next step is to decoupage the covers of these recipe notebooks.  I do also still have all these Everyday Food recipes to contend with:

Over the winter I forced myself to go through all the magazines, tear out what I wanted, and recycle the rest.  I sorted them by category and clipped them together, but now what? I may just keep them like this, in a folder in the notebook, and flip through them when I want to.  I did that yesterday and found a wonderful Lemon Ginger Bundt Cake that is in the oven right now, being baked for dinner tonight at my mother’s with both of my brothers in attendance.  Our families haven’t all been together in a couple of years, so I’m really excited about our Memorial Day BBQ.  You can bet that’s a menu that will get written down in a new little Menu Diary!  And you can bet you’ll be seeing some big family portraits here.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of someone’s new haircut, which is the shortest he’s ever had it!

So I’m not sure that the resolution has been fully achieved, but it’s definitely had progress made on it and I feel good about it.  Tell me, how do you organize your recipes?

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About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

One response »

  1. Well I sure don’t have any better methods than these that you’ve described. Mine are all in separate manilla folders regardless of whether they’re on cards, Everyday Food, printouts from the computer (rare, as I can’t seem to get bring myself to put them on here either) other magazines, hand-written, whatever, and they’re all floppy and a mess but everything else I’ve tried has failed. I do have a separate folder for each different category like desserts, breakfast, main dishes, sides, etc. and I actually have two different sets of these folders, a small set for things I make often or want to try soon, then another larger and almost unmanageable set for stuff that I swear I’m going to make some day or I’ve tired of. Oddly enough I do consider myself to be a really organized person. Whatever works I guess! 🙂

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