How to Organize Your Favorite Recipes
There are two situations regarding recipes that drive me crazy. One is finding a really good recipe and then you have nowhere to put it. The other is wanting to prepare a special recipe item for dinner, but then you have trouble finding it. I’ve been trying to store recipes for years. There comes a time when you need to put a day or two aside and just spend time organizing your favorite recipes.
I think it’s critical that we have printed recipes, my friends. Yes, I love the internet and Pinterest recipes that are so delicious to look at and then make. But if we don’t have the internet, or our computer where we store so many files, including recipes, won’t come up, then what?
Since I’ve been collecting recipes forever, I’m going to walk you through some of my favorite organizational steps that I’ve found work really well. Here is how to organize your favorite recipes.
I have four daughters and several granddaughters and I asked them if they wanted a collection of my recipes to add to their stash of recipes. They all gladly said they did. So, I bought 12 binders (3-inch ring binders) and the awesome Recipe Dividers I’ve highlighted below.
Then I bought several boxes of page protectors and we all worked together to share our recipes. I have granddaughters that will want the recipe binders as well. We’ll continue to share recipes with each other as we’re introduced to new ones and as the granddaughters get old enough to want their own “library” of recipes.
How to Organize Your Favorite Recipes
The first step in organizing your favorite recipes is to go through your entire collection. Get rid of what you no longer want. Remember, we’re only organizing the recipes you want to keep.
Organizing your favorite recipes will be a lot easier when you get rid of the junk. Learning how to organize your favorite recipes now will also save you a ton of time later.
1. Print, Use Page Protectors, and Add to Binders
I’m actually in the process of doing this for my kids and grandkids. I firmly believe that my recipes are a legacy that I get to leave behind for my family. Taking the time to print physical pages, then protecting them from moisture and food smudges using page protectors, and then adding them to binders is the way in which I’m choosing to organize my favorite recipes.
I’m also printing all of the recipes from my blog and adding them to the binders, if they weren’t there already. All of my favorite recipes are on my blog, so it only makes sense that I add them to the inventory of recipe pages I want to be saved for future reference.
I can bet you guessed what color I want, yep, it’s the purple one. I bought some of the binders at Staples in St. George, Utah. But I also ordered some online 2-Inch Better Binders and found there are many colors to choose from if you have a favorite, or want to sort/organize the recipes in different binders based on what kind of recipe it is.
I bought these Page Protectors and these LONG Recipe Dividers ( I LOVE these-you can see the tabs) and I started printing recipes and copying all the recipes we want to save for future family members. I tried to get the page protectors at Costco, but they didn’t have any here in Southern Utah.
2. Write the Recipes on Recipe Cards
It’s important to realize that recipe cards aren’t dead. In fact, they’re still a really awesome way of organizing recipes. Every time you find a recipe that you truly love, don’t be shy about writing it on a recipe card and adding it to your collection.
Recipe cards are popular because they don’t take up a lot of room and they’re super easy to organize. The key is making sure you organize as you go, so you don’t have a huge pile of recipe cards that you don’t know what to do with.
3. Recipe Binders to the Rescue
This is my husband, Mark, helping sort and fill the plastic page protectors. This has been a HUGE job, but it is so worth it. I wish I had done this with my mom and my siblings. As I’ve often mentioned, my mother was an awesome cook. I learned so much from her and she did share many of her recipes with me and my sisters. I wish I had made sure that I had them all.
If you do a lot of recipe collecting and need to get super serious about recipe organization, then binders are the way to go. The type of binder organization I’m talking about is organizing each type of recipe in the right section of each binder.
For example, you might put bread recipes into one binder. You might put meat recipes in another binder. Depending on the number of recipes you have, you’ll also be separating the recipes within the binder into sections with dividers. The bread binder is a good example. The dividers may include recipes for white bread, wheat bread, rolls of all kinds, etc. This will REALLY help you to stay organized and on top of it all. It really all depends on how many recipes you want to organize.
4. Recipe Flip Stand
One of my favorite inventions for organizing your favorite recipes is known as a recipe flip stand. This works for your favorite recipes, but not everything. You can easily add the recipes and keep the stand on your counter.
The stand allows you to easily flip to whichever recipe you want to see. Plus, there are 10 tabbed dividers and 24 sheet protectors.
5. Recipe Book
While this may take some time to transfer all of your recipes over, it’ll be worth it in the end. A leather recipe book is perfect for adding all of your favorite recipes for future use. The good thing is, all the recipes can be stored in one book or source. Again, depending on your recipe inventory, one book may not be enough.
Plus, it’s in a safe spot because the recipe book is so sturdy. If you’re just starting to collect recipes, this may be an excellent route to go.
6. Recipe Card Protectors
Sometimes you get the opportunity to get organized and make it easier on yourself. If you already have your favorite recipe cards and just need a way to protect them, grab these recipe card protectors. You can organize your recipes and keep them as protected as you possibly can.
Whether on pages or cards, the actual activity of making a recipe can get messy in any kitchen. If you have them encased in protectors, the mess can be wiped off, just like you do with your countertops.
7. Don’t Forget the Recipe Box
Something that is still very prevalent today is a handy item known as a recipe box. This is where you store all of those recipe cards passed on down from generation to generation.
Recipe boxes can easily be stored in your cabinet or on a shelf. Something like this shouldn’t be forgotten because it truly is such an easy way to organize your favorite recipes.
I hope these 7 tips help you learn how to organize your favorite recipes. You’ll enjoy being able to tackle this project sooner rather than later. What’s your favorite way to organize your recipes?
What are the Best Ways to Organize Recipes?
I think that’s a matter of opinion. It’s nice to know that you can try different organizational methods like the ones I’ve outlined here. Go through each one of these ideas and see what works best for you. You’ll enjoy being able to find an organizational approach that is easy to put together, doesn’t cost too much, and actually prompts you to put things together in an easy to understand and apply basis.
How Do You Organize a Loose Recipe?
Well, if you have a loose recipe, there are several ways that you can organize it. Create a recipe binder, recipe scrapbook, recipe box, or recipe holder. Pick which way you enjoy organizing and go for it.
You Should Consider Categories When it Comes to Organizing Recipes
It might sound funny, but we all tend to organize things differently. You can organize based on the type of food being prepared in the recipe, like sauces, salads, soups, pasta, etc. You can take a slightly different approach and organize by the ingredients included, like veggies, meats, dairy products, and more.
You can also organize based on how you plan to cook or prepare the recipe, such as in the oven, on a grill, in a skillet, in the crock pot, or pressure cooker. There are so many ways to prepare and cook meals, it’s amazing!
Once you decide on the categories, you can have subgroups. If the binder deals with meats, consider having a divided section for red meat, poultry, fish/seafood, and exotic entrees too. Even within the subgroups, you can fine-tune the category into more detail. For example, under the fish/seafood category, you could have trout, shrimp, clams, oysters, bass, catfish, and so many more.
What Are Some Salad Types or Categories?
Salads can be fun and challenging when it comes to organizing recipes. Salads come in so many varieties, like garden, pasta, Ceasar, hot, cold, garlic, meat-based like grilled chicken, and hundreds more. You need to decide how you logically think about things when it comes to meal prep, and put your recipes in a category that you’ll remember.
Should the Category be Based on any Particular Ingredient?
Since most recipes generally fall into a large overall category, oftentimes the major ingredient will determine what subgroup applies. For example, rather than file “egg salad” under a category of recipes made with eggs, you’d probably have it under salads, with a subgroup of salads that include eggs. Again, how you think when organizing should determine how you’ll best find the recipe the next time you want to use it.
Is it too Confusing to Organize Recipes Based on Health or Allergy Concerns?
For those who really try to eat super healthy meals or those with allergy issues, you could have a subgroup that includes recipes that are low in sugar, have more protein, are made with low-carb ingredients, etc. It all depends on how detailed you want to be.
When it comes to cooks or families who try to prepare and eat vegan-oriented meals, the meat and dairy recipes would be pretty sparse or non-existent. You could have a category that is directed towards meal preparation for babies or the elderly too.
Should I Consider Having My Recipes Grouped Based on the Number of People Being Fed?
It has been my experience that recipes geared for family meal preparation are fairly easy to adjust based on the family size, the make-up of ages, and possibly sex since teenage boys tend to eat a whole lot more than their teenage girl peers. You learn through experience how best to adjust for more or fewer servings as you add the ingredients and mix things together.
I’ve had to make some definite changes in many recipes since Mark and I have been on our own. Cooking for two has proven to be more difficult than I’d imagined. When I used to make my bread I’d usually make six or eight loaves, now it’s usually two or three, but it’s all good and the effort worthwhile.
As for meals being prepared for large groups like family reunions and church gatherings, it’s a whole different story. Depending on the recipe, you can try to make adjustments in the volume of the various ingredients, but you may be best served by getting some guidance from those who traditionally or by vocation prepare meals for larger groups.
I Have Some Kids Who Love to Help Me in the Kitchen. What About Recipes for Them?
Depending on their ages, there are tons of recipes that can be prepared by younger cooks. You could even have a category or subgroup with recipes just for them. You might want to start with things like pancakes, waffles, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna or chicken salad, or other simple offerings. Experiment and see what works. You might want them to start organizing their own recipes so they’re ready for meal prep when they go away to school.
My Chicken Recipes
I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of recipes that I love. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start organizing those recipes. As I mentioned before, it’s an awesome legacy to leave your recipes to your loved ones.
Use these tips to learn how to organize your favorite recipes. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or for your family, it’s a great project to get started on. May God Bless this world, Linda.
28 thoughts on “How to Organize Your Favorite Recipes”
I had three very very full binders of my recipes. A couple of years ago I downloaded an app on my phone called AnyList, primarily to use it for creating lists such as a grocery list, Costco list – things like that. It’s a free app, but for $8 or $9 a year It unlocks the recipe portion of the app. I started loading my recipes in there, and then got serious about it a few months ago. Now all of my recipes are at my fingertips. I bought gift subscriptions for my daughters and granddaughters – now we all share the same recipes, and we can all add to it! I’ve got a printed copy of all of them in my file cabinet ‘just in case’ !
Hi Kathie, oh my gosh, I use AnyList on my phone for Costco, Home Depot, or any store. I LOVE IT! But, I did not know you could download recipes and share them, this is a game-changer!! I can’t wait to check that out!! Thank you! Linda
Yes, it was a game changer for me!!
Hi Kathie, it’s so fun to learn stuff from each other! Linda
I have several binders with recipes in them but I must admit, I love the fancy ones like what Susan Branch does. I’ve been using page protectors for half of forever for just about anything, including quilting patterns, etc. I especially like how I can print your recipes in a clean, neat format without a bunch of ads and junk. All that being said, I do still have alot of recipe cards. In going through my recipes recently, I rediscovered my late mother’s box, dirty and grimy, but oh! to see her handwriting again after all these years! It’s a treasure I’ll never give up. No one really wants my recipes but I’m still keeping them all.
HI Robbie, oh my gosh, I had never heard of Susan Branch binders. I love her different binders!!! Great tip! I’m glad you can download my recipes. I’m sorry about the ads but I think I have told you before I need them because my expenses each month are $3000.00 each month to run my blog. It’s crazy, nothing is free. I do not take any money from my blog, it’s what it costs to keep it running smoothly. I have my mother’s recipe box with handwritten and typed recipes, they are a treasure. You will be surprised how many family members will want your recipes after you leave this earth. AND they will be in your recipe binders, yay! Linda
No, Linda, I wasn’t complaining about your ads!!! I fully understand that nothing is free, that it costs to keep your blog up! I was saying that I love how your recipes print off so neat and clean! I don’t have to worry about cropping or deleting color pictures, etc. that waste my ink. I don’t even “see” the ads on the blog – they’re “just there” as they are with everything. I’m too cheap to buy ad-free sites, too. So please don’t worry about it!!!!
I found Susan Branch in Costco one year when I bought her recipe binder. I searched her out and found other stuff that she’s got – it’s expensive – but it sure is fun to look at. I think I have three of her binders and that’s all that’s been made so far. Another really neat site is MaryLakeThompson.com. She’s got awesome fabric, aprons, etc. Check her out.
OH my sweet friend Robbie, I knew you were not complaining. It’s so funny when I read my blog I never “see” the ads, I know they are there but I just keep scrolling. LOL! I’m so glad my recipes do not print the ads!!! Oh my gosh, I LOVE that MaryLakeThompson website! I need to get out of my shell and look around more!! I will have to watch for a Costco roadshow for one of the cookbook binders. I love learning about new stuff, thanks for sharing!!!! Linda
I need to do this soon! I keep collecting but not organizing. Of course, a number of the recipes I have collected are not as good as they sounded!! I always make notes on recipes as I use them and that is very helpful later on – for example, needs more salt, needs more sauce, leave out the ***.
I just made a recipe today where the person who gave me the recipe said the original was WAY too sweet and that she had cut back on the sugar. I used her method and find that they aren’t quite as sweet as I would like so I made a note – original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, she cut back to 1 cup so I will leave the note that it needs between 1 and 2 cups of sugar (most likely 1 1/2 cups). Then when I make it again, I will have my notes on the recipe.
I just ordered the tabs from Amazon. I have document protectors and binders so I will work with those rather than spend money on other binders.
HI Leanne, all I really needed was the tabs for myself. BUT then I decided to make it a “project” for my 4 daughters and 8 granddaughters. LOL! I really wish I had my mom’s recipes that I loved. I have several but not all. Have fun putting yours together. It’s so fun to get our recipes organized!! Linda
I have a lot of my mother’s recipes. I probably mentioned in some other post that one of my nieces created a family cookbook and we all shared recipes that we loved but we also included many of mom’s. It is a treasure for sure.
Hi Leanne, that is a treasure for sure!! Linda
Linda, I found a great website also, Its called Copy Me That. It is free for storing all the recipes that come up on the computer that you want to keep. If you pay a small fee you can get them all indexed and several other features.
Even if you do the free one it is super handy you can print them anytime and save on paper. You can search for anything you have stored by ingredient. And you can share with others but I’m not too good with computers.
Hi Annie, oh my gosh, I love hearing about this Copy Me That! Checking on it now! Thank you so much! Linda
Hello again. Twice in one day. I had downloaded this to my old phone, and while reading it, I just couldn’t visualize all the components of your binder contents, so I came to your website. Now I know what you were talking about. I’ve been writing down all my recipes whether they’re for food or for recipes for salves, body butters, lotions, etc. I bought several different notebooks and am using them up fast. I have binders I bought when I got a printer for recipes, articles which interest me about prepping, and other related items. Couldn’t get the printer to work, so I’m writing them all by hand, recipes that is; and still have bunches to go through. I’m used to using cook books to cook, all mine are in storage in another state, so this is how I’m doing it now. The article was very informative and gave me my own ideas. Thanks, I’m going to peruse your recipe section as soon as I get done with this writing project. I sure wish I’d learned about or met you a long time ago, but hey that’s life and now I know you. been helpful in me learning to be a prepper.
Hi Pamela, I’m redoing several recipes, with better images and better instructions. Hopefully, you can print them when you can get your printer to work, Linda
Thank you. I collect recipes, this way I can read them again later and decide if I want to print them. Hope you enjoy.
Linda, Just got my recipe dividers!! Now to find time to put them in my binders….BTW, I finally got two 55-gal. water barrels and Amazon delivered two bottles of water preserver concentrate. Now if it would stop raining here in the PNW I can fill them! Also planted 8 tomatoe plants. We will see how these do. LOVE your website and all you do. Glad I had almost all my preps in line when this “plague” hit.
Hi Joanne, oh my gosh, I love it! They are the cutest dividers! I love hearing you got two-55-gallon barrels with the preserver. Did you get a pump and bung as well? Tomato plants are the best! I have a lot of green ones but haven’t picked a red one yet! I’m glad to hear you were all prepped (which I knew already about you) before this darn plague hit! Stay well, stay safe, Linda
I’m working on my binder and am almost finished with it (for the time being). There are old family recipes that I don’t use often under the “heirloom” category. Recipes used by my grandmothers and great-grandmothers that are wonderful but are usually for special occasions. Everyone knows if something happens to me, the binder has everything in it.
If you decided to print a recipe book, I would buy it.
HI Linda, I love sharing recipes, I have been asked to write one, great idea! Linda
HI Paula, yay!!! I love hearing this! What a great idea, “Heirloom”. Linda
I have a ton of recipes and have a binder for them but it sure isn’t organized. My Grand kids are always asking how I make something so I print them out the recipe for them. Of course they lose it so It’s not surprising when they ask for another copy of the recipe. If I get a recipe the first time I make it exactly like it says. The second or third time I always have to change or add something to fit my taste. I used to own and operate a BBQ Restaurant in Phoenix, AZ so when I fire up my big smoker for a family and close (just like family) family friends I am always getting asked how do you make that. Doesn’t matter if it’s Chuck’s Sweet Spicy Baked Beans or my BBQ sauces. I have two. One Chuck’s Thick, Sweet & Spicy or my thin vinegar based sauce. You can mix the two together to your liking and it will make your stomach happy. Now that I’m getting older (78 and counting) I have don’t make the Sweet & Spicy from scratch anymore since my recipe was for making gallons at a time. I now buy a sauce and redo it a little bit to suit me. They don’t know any better. The real secret in good Q is the prep and how you cook it. Most everything I cook now is just beef brisket, pork butts and pork ribs. Well as usual I’m getting a bit off subject and long winded so God Bless you and your family.
HI Chuck, you will never be long-winded to me! You owned and operated BBQ Restaurant!!! Squeal! Oh my gosh, I love hearing this!! I can almost take the brisket and baked beans right now! Love your comment! Linda
I have been trying to gather all my recipes together for ages and I kept getting kerfufeled trying to organize them. Thanks for the ideas.
I do have one recipe box that is organized but I did not organize it. A dear friend in Tennessee gave me his copy of the recipes he created for the US Army when we moved to New Mexico. I remember when I made one recipe for Kolaches that I made and the recipe said it made I think 75 Kolaches. Well when I was done I had over 200. They didn’t go to waste because it was Christmas time and I just boxed up 3 dozen for every friend I had where we were living at that time and gave them to all my friends. I had one friend who said he loved Kolaches but 3 dozen at one time was too much. But the families with kids really loved them as they did not have to make a lot of sweets for Christmas that year. I can’t make them now because I don’t have a business mixer to make the dough and I don’t know how to cut it down.
Hi Jackie, oh my gosh, 75 up to 200!! LOL! I had to Google what “Kolaches” are! They look yummy. That was quite a project my friend! But the people loved them I’m sure. Great story! Linda
Linda, Jane and I use several ring binders One is organized by type of cooking (Italian, Mexican, Asian, Casserole, etc). One is organized by main ingredient (Beef, Chicken, Pork. Another is organized by type of meal (Breakfast, Snacks, Salads, Desserts, Dinners, Side Dishes, etc). My goal is to be able to find the recipe I want to make–or look for ideas–easily and quickly.
The meals we make most often get written on recipe cards and placed in a card box that sits on the kitchen countertop. Jane’s Chicken Alfredo recipe just graduated to a place in the recipe box.
I also have hundreds of recipes saved to my Pinterest account and on my computer, though they are not as organized as they should be.