Guest post: Organizing recipes

1 Jun

I have returned from my unexpected vacation (although I’m not exactly sure “vacation” is the right word)! There’s a whole bunch of new posts, including several recipes, that I’ll be sharing this week so make sure you stay tuned. In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post from My Friend Kelly:

Whether you’re a novice or master in the kitchen realm, trying out new recipes and keeping favorites handy is a great way to stay organized while cooking. Recipe books can be great to find new ideas, try a different meal or just dream about the perfect dinner party menu.

Personally, I love to tear recipes from my favorite magazines, print from my favorite websites and incorporate my Grandma’s box of awesome recipes. But how do you go from this:

to something organized and useful? There are 5 easy steps that can refresh your recipe list and create a great kitchen resource.

  1. Set Limits – Unless you’re interested in printing the entirety of you should be discerning about the recipes you’re willing to try. For example, I don’t cook pork. It’s icky. I hate sweet potatoes (orange spuds of death). And while I tried it on vacation, I never want to make my own haggis. There’s a certain amount of guilt that follows an unused recipe – if you don’t want to cook or eat it, toss the recipe. Additionally, if your family doesn’t eat a lot of desserts, don’t clip 400 pie recipes. I’m pretty sure vegetarians don’t hold on to a lot of beef recipes. Focus on what you enjoy the most.
  2. Create Categories – I barely have the patience to pull ingredients out of the fridge and make a meal. I definitely will not be more motivated if I have to sort through a stack of glossy pages looking for the ONE recipe to use up stale Ritz crackers. The answer is to create categories that make sense for your family. I use: Drinks, Appetizers/Light foods, Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Desserts. If something doesn’t fit perfectly I just choose the closest category.
  3. Clip and Sort – I’m pretty paranoid about my computer getting close to my stove, knives and water so for now I keep all my recipes on paper. Once the recipes are clipped I sort them quickly. This means taking a stack and pulling out all the drink recipes, then another pass to pull out all the dessert recipes and so on. Sorting your recipes means if you need a dessert for a party you have options all in one place. And if you’re looking for a side dish with corn the options are easy to compare.
  4. Use a Binder – the first binder I started is getting full so it’s time to add a second one. It’s a simple 1” binder with clear view sheet protectors. Awesome for preventing food splatter, holding multi-page recipes and recipes printed on both sides.  Binders are the right size, cheap and easy to replace, simple to clean when splattered with sauce and you can buy them at most major retailers.
  5. Adapt as Needed – I once made a nasty, nasty artichoke dip and promptly crossed that recipe out of a book. Yes, a book. With the binder method it’s a lot easier to toss that scrap of paper and save the room for recipes you like. Just like the Half Blood Prince, note when your own method works better. Should you cut out the onions that overpower the dish? Can you substitute low-fat sour cream without noticing a difference? Will this dish freeze or should you eat fresh? Does your oven need to be at 435* instead of 400*?Make all the notes and changes you want by either writing on the recipe or sticking a note in the sheet protector.

I know that someday I’ll probably have a little computer that scans, organizes and catalogs my favorite recipes for me – some websites already do! But the most important thing is to start trying the recipes you have now instead of waiting for the perfect website or device. It’s a lot cheaper and takes less time to throw some magazine clippings into a binder with sheet protectors.

 What’s your favorite method for organizing recipes to use in your kitchen?

Thanks, Kelly, for these great tips. I use all of them in some variation. For the record, Kelly’s opinion of the sweet potato is entirely her own and not necessarily that of The Empty Kitchen.


2 Responses to “Guest post: Organizing recipes”


  1. Working 80 hours « My Friend Kelly - June 2, 2010

    […] this week I had a guest post on organizing recipes over at The Empty Kitchen. You can read it here. Leave a Comment Leave a Comment so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this […]

  2. Project Ideas « My Friend Kelly - June 2, 2010

    […] Read my guest post on organizing recipes here. […]

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