Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Organizing Recipes

There have been a few times that I've mentioned I'm working on organizng my recipes. It's a large project because I have a TON of recipes clipped. (And more waiting to be clipped, since a while back I found a large stack of my favorite recipe magazines at a thrift store.) I used to subscribe to the Reiman family of recipe magazines, including Taste of Home, Simple & Delicious, Healthy Cooking (formerly Light & Tasty, I think), and Cooking For 2.

After Goose was born, I gave them up. Not only did I not really have the time to read them, I already had *so many* recipes to try that I'll probably never get to them. In addition, I seem to find a ton of recipes just stumbling around online. I really like Amy's suggestion of just putting them right into your next meal plan, but I don't do a lot of meal planning yet. Hubs's schedule is pretty random, and since our family is so small, we end up with a lot of leftovers, which sometimes last longer than I think they will.

My initial method of sorting recipes was to use index card boxes. I just made dividers for the various categories, and ended up with subcategories within them. I liked that idea well enough, but before Goose was born, I decided I needed to utilize my technology and try to organize them in a searchable fashion on the computer. I used a spreadsheet and then categorized them in alphabetical order in the boxes. I didn't get far before I realized that wasn't going to work very well. What I liked about it was that I could enter more than one category for something - soup, and ham main dish, for example.

And now? I'm going back to my simpler method of dividing by category. I'm toying with the idea of using zip top bags to store them in, but for now I'm using them to sort. (I'm also thinking about clipping together similar recipes within the bag.) Thankfully we have a table in the kitchen where we eat so I can use the bigger dining room table for sorting recipes. I'm taking "one bite of the elephant at a time" - that is, I sort a bit each day. If I need to pick everything up, I just tuck the newly sorted recipes in the bags and pile them in the basin. It's also quite easy to pull them back out when I'm ready to sort again - there isn't a lot of setup time needed.

Most importantly, I am culling recipes that I really don't think we'll like. Over 5+ years of marriage, I've figured out a few more things on what Hubs likes and doesn't like (and what I like and don't like). Since we're trying to eat healthier, I also pull out ones that call for a lot of expensive convenience foods that we don't eat anymore. On the flip side, I'm pulling out ones that sound supper yummy that I would like to try right away. Regardless, I'm getting a better handle on what I have, and thinning out the ones I don't use so I can find things more easily.

Anybody have any tips for me? How do you sort your recipes?


Anonymous said...

I have a tip for you - you could just use the computer disk that I gave you titled: "Over 1,000,000 Recipes"!!! You can pull them up by main ingredients or by category - probably more ways, but I don't remember all of them!!!
Mom :>)
P.S. I LOVE your cooking!!!

Amy @ Finer Things said...

Your mom's comment has me cracking up.

It's so hard to organize recipes!

I have my faves in a 3-ring recipe binder, organized by category. It looks like a photo album actually, so I'm sure one of those (with the slide in pockets) would work fine, too.

My Reiman magazines are in the cabinet above my oven. Just can't part with them, but I hardly ever look at them anymore. :(

Angela said...

Way to go, I have GOT to get moving on mine too, since I have an ugly pile sitting around. I decided to go through all my Reiman magazines, photocopy the pages I like (that way I can pass the magazines along, and it's easy to do since hubby works from home and has a copier), insert the pages into plastic sleeves, and put in a three ring binder that is catagorized. I think it will be great once I actually get it done, it that ever happens . . .

Annemarie said...

I have this huge manila folder of recipes torn out from various magazines. I have yet to figure out an organizing method that works for me.

We are planning on handing out recipe cards at the stand. Some of customers have never cooked fresh produce and have no idea what to do with it. So I am putting our family favorites on index cards. At least, the favorites will be organized!

Sarah said...

Giving my two cents . . .

I use two ways to organize recipes . . . one online and one on paper! :)

I have two large 3-ring binders and a big box of clear sheet protectors. One binder is exclusively sweets and desserts and the other binder (the one that is used far more often! :) is everything else (main dishes, soups, vegetable side dishes, appetizers, etc.) I simply either stash cut-out recipes or printed out recipes in the sheet protectors and insert them in the binder in their appropriate places. I also have several recipe cards, but find that everyone gives them to me in different sizes so I just stash those in the sheet protectors too. They sink to the bottom eventually and are completely readable (I specifically ask certain family members, my grandma, a favorite aunt, my mom, to write out by hand certain family heirloom recipes on cards. This way I'll always have their best (and my favorite) recipes in their handwriting to remember them.) What is great is that I can take out one recipe and put it on my counter and, since it's in a sheet protector, it doesn't matter if anything gets spilled on it as it'll just wipe away.

About once a year I go through my binders and add in any new recipes I've found and get rid of ones that we won't make.

My dividers are main course by protein (seafood, pork, chicken, beef), soups, vegetables appetizers and other. My desserts book is by type - cookie, pies and tarts, candy, cakes, ice creams, etc. I think I have a beverages one in there too somewhere.

I have a TON of recipes bookmarked online and specifically have an entire "recipes" bookmark folder organized similarly. I also have specific sub-categories by cuisine (sometimes I have a hankering for, say, a spring roll. Doesn't matter if it is chicken or shrimp or pork. So I have a specific Asian cuisine tag for things like that).

If a bookmarked recipe becomes a staple that I refer back to again and again, I try to remember to print it out and file it in a binder too.

Hope this helps!