One of the goals I had for 2010 was to do an organization series. Hmmm. It’s May and so far I’ve only written about how I organize the contents of my freezer. You don’t think I need to be more organized, do you?
I admit I’m not a super-organized person. But I do like organizing and have found a few strategies that work for me that I would like to share. One of them is organizing recipes. I do not, however, think my recipe organization method is the best, most awesomest method ever. But I’m sharing anyway.
Why? Because I don’t believe a perfect organization method exists. Each person has different amounts of time, energy, and needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work. In light of this, you can feel free to see how I do it and then choose another method if you think it would work best for you. I do have to say, though, that when I started this method, it was like a light going off- it immediately became easier to find a recipe I wanted without going through stacks (and stacks…) of papers. But no matter what method you choose, hopefully you’ll be inspired to get those recipes in order!
I keep my most-used cookbooks above the stove along with the binders I use for organizing my recipes. I have a two-binder system – the first type of binder is for small clippings and recipe cards.
These “binders” are actually three-pocket page photo albums. I found two that coordinated with my decor at Target years ago. They had a fabric type cover, though, so I used clear Contact paper over the outsides to protect them. And since they were both the same (because I really liked them…) I just numbered them “1″ and “2.”
I attached stick-on dividers from an office store to make my own divisions. This is another bonus to making your own versus using a pre-made system- I could make as many divisions as I needed and use labels that made the most sense for me. Here are the divisions I used to give you an idea:
Small recipes book 1:
- Meat (beef & pork)
Small recipes book 2:
Then I just placed all the recipes (well…I did throw a bunch away that I wondered why I’d been keeping!) in the photo sleeves. Some I have to pull out to read the whole recipe, but I try to cut and tape them so they can be read without having to be taken out. This is pretty simple, but such a revelation for me. It is so much easier than the little recipe boxes and files I (attempted) to use before.
The little photo pockets don’t work for large pages from magazines or printed online (which I do more and more), so I use a second type of binder as well: your basic three-ring binder with divider pages labeled similar to the photo albums. They include clear page covers which make it easy to slide large clippings into (or out of…) as well as regular hole-punched pages. This is what most people use, I think, but what helped me was realizing I didn’t have to try and fit all the recipes into one size binder- it OK to have two. Because those little clippings were a pain to try and fit into the large binders. I find it much easier to slip them into the photo pockets.
I’ve outgrown only one large binder, though, so I have three now (Salads/Mains, Appetizers/Breads/Bfst., and Cakes/Desserts) plus some specialized binders. These include a binder dedicated to slow-cooker recipes, one for all my homemade “basics” recipes (Pantry basics as well as health/beauty recipes) and a new one I added recently to house our past menus. I keep our past menus to be able to refer to when making new menus and I arranged them by month so I can easily find what we like to eat for that season using what is growing in the garden or on sale.
Here’s where it gets real: on top of the microwave sits a cute little tray my kids made us one year for Christmas. I use it to keep the current month’s menu on top and the recipes I’ll need for the menu, plus any new recipes I find that need to be put in the binders. Nothing wrong with that.
Except, this stack is now about an inch deep and I find myself rifling through it to find a recipe a lot because I haven’t put them into the binders. See? Nothing’s perfect.
Now please make sure to watch the accompanying video Brian made about this topic. A video on recipe organization? Yeah, I know- I tried to tell you he was weird and now you’ve got the proof. But he’s good for a laugh. Actually he’s great for a laugh. It’s what makes life so fun with him.