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Keep recipes organized

By on March 16, 2008

photo by nate steiner
The road to clutter is paved with good intentions, and that is especially true with recipes. If you’re saving them from magazines, newspapers and printed from Web pages, finding them later can be a problem without an organized system. Readers share their best methods for making their recipes easily accessible when they need them.

PHOTO ALBUM: I started with a photo album that had magnetic pages. I still have the first one I ever made, just after we got married, and it’s still in good shape. I also have three recipe boxes. One is for recipes I want to try, one for recipes I tried and liked, and one for frugal recipes that are less than $5 for a family of four. — Sarah, Illinois

I use mini brag-style photo albums to hold recipe cards. I bring it with me shopping because it fits in my purse. — Traci P., via e-mail

ONLINE ORGANIZERS: I use an online recipe book. You can save and store the recipes offered at the site and also add your own. You never lose any, and you don’t have the extra clutter of having cookbooks and recipes lying around. — Kelly, Maryland
Note from Sara: Try and

CATEGORIZE: I sort my recipes the same way I sort my coupons. I use an accordion check file organizer. — Hannah, Oregon

COMPUTER SOFTWARE: I use a program called Cook’n ( I can make a recipe from things I have, and make a shopping list and a meal plan. — Karone, e-mail

LAMINATE: I write some of mine on index cards, laminate, hole punch and attach a key ring. I hang my favorites on a hook in the kitchen. — Lynnette, e-mail

BOOKSHELVES AND BINDERS: I have a wall that is floor to ceiling, covered in bookshelves that house my cookbook collection – more than 1,000. These are arranged by type. When I get a new one, I read it like a novel. I make notes on Post-its or index cards for recipes I’d like to try. As I try them, I make notes on whether we liked it, make it again or not, plus the date made. Then I note the page numbers inside the front cover. In my dining room is another collection, and in my kitchen, under my microwave, is another. I also have a shelf over my desk with my holiday cookbooks. I tear recipes out of magazines and add them to my monthly binder. I use protective sheets to keep things clean. — Laurie, Florida
Note from Sara: Try Post-it flags ( or book darts (

INVENTORY LIST: Cookbooks have been one of my weaknesses, but I am better about not just picking them up anymore when they’re cheap. I planned our island/bar in our kitchen so that each end has a built-in bookshelf in it. The cookbooks that won’t fit, including some three-ring binders, are in the pantry on the shelf. Someone gave me a great gift. It’s a spiral-bound recipe index. It’s really neat. You list your favorite recipes and what book they’re in. — Pemberleyan, e-mail

FILE FOLDERS: I use a file cabinet with hanging folders for some, and others I have written and filed on a Rolodex. — Melissa, via e-mail

CLIP IT: I don’t own cookbooks and live in a small apartment. I have my favorites on index cards held together with a binder clip. The clip also holds a pen, so I keep a few blank index cards in the stack, and when I see a recipe I like, I write it down. If it’s good enough, it stays, and if it’s not, I throw it away. — Mom2tam, e-mail

BULLETIN BOARD: I use a French memo board for recipes. I tuck recipes I love and want to try under the ribbon lattice. — Ashley R., New Mexico

SCAN ‘EM: I live in an apartment and recently went on a decluttering bender. I sold much of my massive collection of cookbooks. Before I did, I scanned the recipes I wanted to keep. Now I have them all on my hard drive and backups on a CD. This is also how I store the recipes I cut out of newspapers and get from family and friends. — Monica, e-mail


  1. Gianni Stival

    3/16/2008 at 5:05 am

    I use only internet as provider of recipes. I save every recipe in a single file and I search them with google desktop

  2. DixieJ

    3/19/2008 at 1:59 pm

    I am working on compiling a book of all my favorite receipes that I use a lot. I’ve got a couple of friends that I would like to make one of these for as Christmas gifts. They’re always asking for a recipe of mine, so I thought this would make a good gift.

  3. Suzville

    3/26/2008 at 1:52 pm

    I really appreciate this – especially the online organizers! I had no clue there was any such thing. I’ve been using delicious to tag recipes but I use it for other things, also. I’m really excited about this – thanks!

  4. Yasmine

    2/27/2010 at 11:29 am

    So many wonderful ideas, exactly what I needed! Now I can tackle my loose papers with recipes and organize better those on the computer. Thank you!
    .-= Yasmine´s last blog ..Very Special Family Portrait =-.

  5. Julie

    3/27/2010 at 11:20 pm

    I put my recipes in clear plastic sheet protectors, which are then categorized into a three-ring notebook. I clip them with a magnetic clip to the fridge so they are at eye level while I’m using them. I’m a messy cook too, so the recipes can be cleaned easily after I use them.

  6. Kathleen

    8/17/2011 at 12:00 pm

    I found this informative. I have boxes of recipes and want to down size. I have already got rid of some I will never make. But I like the idea of scanning them then no clutter. Ones I use I have made a special binder and it is my special recipes. So I wanted to thank you for your help

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