Monday, June 8, 2009

Recipe Organization for the Obsessive Collector

I'm sure you've figured out, based on the fact that every time I go somewhere I buy I cookbook, that I'm a rather obsessive collector of recipes. Besides buying cookbooks I also subscribe to cooking magazines, look for recipes online and take cookbooks out of the library. What this means is that I end up with stacks of recipes that I've printed from the internet, torn out of magazines or even photocopied from books.

My only salvation from being killed by a toppling stack of cookbooks is that I get many of them from the library first and if I see only a few recipes I like I just photocopy them using our handy scanner/copier/printer. The downside is that if there are too many recipes to copy I end up buying the book.

I guess there is technically another downside which is that I end up with stacks of loose recipes. They accumulate on all surfaces, even the cats, until eventually you get an avalanche of paper or someone spills something on the entire pile. Either way it's a mess.

My solution: three ring binders! Although I always pinch my fingers in the rings I still think that three ring binders are one of the marvels of modern technology. Here are two other marvels which help me get organized:

Without my paper cutter and fancy ass hole punch it would take me a lot longer to get all my recipes stored away. It also helps to have pretty binders:

My recipes are divided into several categories: cocktail recipes, canning/preserving recipes, desserts, and those I've cut out of Cooking Light (which I have a subscription to). I really enjoy the magazine and there are actually quite a few recipes per issue that I want to try so to make them easier to find I just cut them out and tape them onto paper so I can recycle the rest of the magazine. It saves space and time when I go looking for the recipe because let's face it, no matter how much we think we're going to go sift through old magazines for those recipes we liked, we never do.

I suppose I could save space by getting rid of the photographs but some of them are so pretty, it's half the reason I want to try the recipe!

Finally there is my binder of everything I've photocopied or printed from the computer. It's at least and inch and half thick.

I made dividers for the different categories to make finding things easier. I used old folders (I had a stack of legal sized ones for no apparent reason) and cut them to size so I'd have the tabs for easy flipping.

I got a little crazy with my categories: appetizers, breakfast, breads, tapas, soups, vegetable sides, starch sides, main dish: Mexican/Cuban, main dish: Asian, pasta, pizza/sandwich, main dish: seafood, main dish: veggy, main dish: meat, main dish: meat light. These are of course customizable so if you aren't as nutty as me you could simplify.

Once it's all established it's easy to keep organized. I just hole punch the new recipe and slip it in.

A final upside to cooking from photocopies is you feel very little guilt about scribbling notes all over the recipe once you've tried it, or spilling food on it for that matter, which I inevitably do.


  1. geez, what a fanatic. I'm kinda jealous, wish I could muster enough enthusiasm for food on a daily basis to actually even think about trying so many new recipes, but most of the time I'm lucky if I remember to eat. Guess it must come with the extra X chromosome =/

  2. wow, that's impressive and inspiring. Right now my recipe conglomeration is stuffed into two folders; one "to try" and the other "keepers". I started to organize the folders by season, that is, which key ingredients would be in season (or in my garden!) for Fall, Winter, etc. I have dreams of using the computer to somehow index them all...anyway, seeing your bright, shiny folders full of nicely organized recipes may kick my butt to get mine more ordered!

  3. Thanks. I like the idea of doing it by season too!

  4. Awesome, my recipes are a leaning tower of pisa, that falls over quarterly.
    Its super annoying trying to find anything

    I got some sheet protectors on sale, but hey 3 hole punch and taping to filler paper looks quicker/cheaper.