recipe organization

I’ve been a bit of an organization trip lately. I think that success in one area leads to another. So pleased with my one-thing-leads-to-another success of last weekend, I decided to tackle something that has been nagging at me for months (years?): recipes.

I don’t collect many things, but I guess you could say that I collect recipes. Years ago I developed a system that I still like to this day, but it has its shortcomings. I’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s talk about the challenges. I get recipes from magazines, the internet, friends, family, and cookbooks. These recipes come in many shapes, sizes and formats. I am a pencil and paper girl, so keeping recipes on the computer just doesn’t seem intuitive to me, and if you saw what most of my best-loved recipes look like, then I think you’d agree that it wouldn’t be good for the computer either.

My system involves a couple of binders, pocket dividers, and sheet protectors. I rip recipes out of magazines (and then recycle the rest of the magazine), make photocopies if I can’t rip them out, or print them off the internet and slip the recipes into sheet protectors. I file the recipes in binders (I started with one and quickly grew to need two- and I think #3 will soon be needed). My categories are:

~ Pasta
~ Vegetarian
~ Chicken/Turkey
~ Meat
~ Seafood
~ Soups
~ Salads
~ Vegetables
~ Side dishes
~ Desserts
~ Bread
~ Breakfast
~ Miscellaneous

Recipes that I have made before and want to make again are filed under the appropriate section. New recipes that I want to try are filed in the pockets of the appropriate divider. After I make them and they are family-approved, they get their own sheet protector and are filed in the appropriate section.

What I like about this system is that everything is in one place and I am reminded of recipes as I flip through the pages. I can take smaller recipe cards given to me by friends and family and put them in the sheet protectors as well. I often take several recipes on smaller bits of paper and glue them onto a sheet of paper and slip that into the sheet protector. I can even take a photocopy of an often used recipe from a cookbook and put it in the binder, so that I don’t forget about it.

Now, where this systems starts to break down is when you start taking recipes out of the binder. I used to make my menu plan for the week, and pull out all the recipes that I would need for the week and put them in a file folder. The idea was that I would refile them at the end of the week, and then pull out the recipes for the new week. Only the refiling part never happened. And then I just started keeping the most often used recipes in file folders and stopped looking through the binder. And then I could never find what I was looking for because they were just all jammed into file folders, with no rhyme or reason. You get the picture. And that is where I was with my recipes today.

So I sat down with my hundreds (thousands?) of recipes, and gave them a good sorting. I got real about all the recipes that I have clipped over the years and have never yet made. If I haven’t made it in 5 years, then I really don’t want to make it do I?

In a couple of hours I went from this:

To this:

Everything in two binders. Maybe not the most high tech solution, but it works for me. I’ve decided to mark the recipes for the week with sticky notes and just move those around each week. Wish me luck!

Do you have a recipe filing system that works for you?