WFMW: Recipe Organization

Wednesday September 23, 2009

I’ve been fairly disorganized all summer.  Now that school is in session and life is running at full speed, I’ve been working on getting some order back in my life.

One area that always gives me trouble is recipes.  I love to search for ones I like on the internet, in cookbooks, or collect them from friends.  The problem is keeping them organized.  While I haven’t got it all figured out, I have developed a couple of tips for better recipe organization.

Tip #1 – Digital Organization

Often times, I am sitting at my computer, reading blogs when I come across a recipe that appeals to me.   I’ve tried bookmarking and starring and other techniques, but for recipes I know I want to find again, I’ve had the most success using my email as a repository.

When I see a recipe online that I like, here’s what I do:

  1. Copy & paste the recipe into an email.
  2. Include a link back to where I found it
  3. Email it to myself
  4. Move the recipe to my “Recipes” folder in my inbox.

This works well for me because I can easily search for the recipe in my inbox and when friends send me recipes, I can easily catalogue them and know where to find them.  I use Gmail for my email and it works great for this (I highly recommend Gmail).


Tip #2 – Paper Organization

This is what my recipe/cookbook cabinet looks like:


You can see I have cookbooks, a black binder that contains printouts I’ve organized, a manila folder of recipes I’ve printed but not filed, and a shoebox sized recipe box of all my loose 3×5 or 4×6 recipe cards.

The recipe box is really my go to place for recipes I use over and over.  It’s the place I want to store all my recipes and find them easily at my fingertips.  Of course, that doesn’t work because my recipes come from a variety of sources, and many of those don’t fit in my box.

My solution?  Use the recipe box as a card catalog for recipes that don’t fit in it.  I made a yummy chicken pot pie dish that I found in my Gourmet cookbook the other night.  Afterwards, I jotted down the recipe name and where to find it on a 3×5 card and stuck in in my recipe box.


So next time, when I’m trying to remember where to find that great dish I made once, I’ll see this card and know where to go.  This technique also works for cross-referencing items that fit more than one category.   For example, that chicken pot pie dish – should I put that under “Poultry” or “Casserole”?   Doesn’t matter!  Just pick one, file it there, and leave an note in the other category.   This is what I stuck in the casserole section:


I still have piles and piles of recipes that still need to be organized, but this solution works pretty well for me.

For more tips, check out the “Works for Me Wednesday” series at We Are THAT Family.

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5 Responses to WFMW: Recipe Organization

  1. 1
    Melissa says:

    The cross-referencing idea is fantastic – I never thought of that! I’m trying to get mine organized; thanks for the tips!

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    Oh, great idea for the recipe box. I like the idea of leaving a note about where to find them. I’m still trying to organize my online recipes. So far I’ve tried creating folders for different recipe categories…desserts, main, sides…and saving bookmarks there. So far, it’s working for me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  3. 3
    Karen says:

    I just started using Evernote to organize my recipes. It’s great. I just cut and paste and then store it in a recipe file I created. I can then access it from any computer and even my iPhone.

  4. 4
    Michele Ramsey says:

    Love it! I might start the cross referencing idea. I cut out tons of magazine recipes which are oddly shaped. For a while I was putting them in the old fashion photo albums with the sticky pages covered in plastic. Good ideas K.

  5. 5
    Sarah says:

    Good for you! My mom’s failed recipe organization has come to haunt my recipe files. I’ve got to break the cycle!!

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