View Full Version : Help Organizing Recipies

09-10-2007, 09:11 PM
Help! I've been collecting cook books and cooking magazines for the past 8 years. I have a lot of favorite recipes scattered throughout the books and magazines but when the time comes to find the actual recipe I find myself struggling. I recently went through a lot of the magazines and tore out the recipes I wanted then filed them in a 3 ring binder under categories like main dish, appetizers, etc. Problem is I still have a lot of cook books and several magazines that I just can't bring myself to tear up or discard (that could be a whole different problem that I will deal with later). :o

I know a lot of people organize their recipes on the computer but I'm not quite sure how that works. Do I have to go through all my cookbooks and scan in the recipes I like or are you only able to organize recipes already found on the internet???


09-10-2007, 09:15 PM
First, welcome to the boards.

If you do a search on recipe organization here on the BB there have been many threads on the subject which may or may not have some answers for you. As far as putting older recipes into recipe software, you may be able to scan some in but you may have to type others in, depending on formats etc. It is a huge project and probably one of the biggest barriers to entry for going digital. Good luck with whatever you decide to go with.

09-11-2007, 06:33 AM
You are experiencing the fatal flaw in collecting paper recipes -- whether they be clipped or in standard cookbooks. Unless one wants to spend way too much time finding and organizing the recipes, one might as well not own the stuff -- because essentially it is useless clutter.

I have a digital recipe organizer (MacGourmet) which I love because it enables me to search by any kind of criteria -- including my personal comments. Therefore I can find a recipe for chicken AND asparagus -- or all my highly rated recipes -- or create a "playlist" of cookie recipes for me to determine -- or all bar cookies with pecans -- It then will also prepare a shopping list.

When I want to prepare something, I print out the recipe and attach it to the refrigerator -- much easier for me to follow the recipe as recipes in magazines and newspapers and even cookbooks generally have smaller or otherwise more difficult formats.

And here is the key -- I TOSS the piece of paper after using it except for a VERY VERY few recipes like Cooks Illustrated Baked Rice which I absolutely know that I will make again.

As for older recipes -- you would be surprised how many recipes are on-line nad can be imported into your digital organizer in about 30 seconds -- very true for newspapers and most magazines and even for just recipes.

As for the rest of the files -- I got rid of my cookbooks except for a few like Joy for reference and some that I have a sentimental attachment to like Settlement or Silver Palate. I can't remember the last time I actually cooked something from a cookbook even though I occasionally will take one down and look at it and think -- hmm that recipe is interesting. Just to unwieldy to look for recipe at the time I need A recipe and/or remember it.

As for recipes that are truly favorites, there are very few -- type them in at the time you actually prepare if you can't find it on-line. Frankly how many recipes can even the most avid cook prepare in a year -- or even a lifetime. Most recipes are just collected for the hell of it -- at least in my experience -- because as you point out they become impossible to access.

09-11-2007, 06:57 AM
What Blazedog said. (And she's "outed" all of us recipe collectors who know we'll NEVER get around to making everything we collect! :D )

I'll add a point about MasterCook or other digital cookbooks: use them as your index; don't bother typing something in unless you like it. You may be amazed at how your tastes change (mature?) over time. For ex, I've been on a mission to make a bunch of old TNTs from my young-married days. I entered the titles ONLY into MCook, with a preceding category, like this: "Main Dish--Pork Chops with Green Peppers." I didn't bother typing in the recipe, but just created a digital cookbook with titles only. Then I don't lose the recipes, b/c I've got an easy way to find the titles. Next, when I'm planning menus, I'm going to that A-list cookbook first. Only AFTER I make and like the dish do I type it into MasterCook.

This method saves a ton of time, b/c otherwise all you'll ever do is type recipes that you may not like or may never make. And old TNTs may no longer suit your new & improved skills and tastes. ;) I've relegated some recipes to the trash bin just this week; they qualified as trying "new" recipes b/c it's been so long that I have little to no memory of their flavor, and now that I know what I'm doing in the kitchen, some recipes won't pass muster any more.

Good luck! Going digital is wonderful if you don't waste time typing things you'll never make, & instead type titles only until you're sure you like those recipes. Have fun!

09-11-2007, 09:05 AM
And then there are the old f*#t's like me that are not computer savvy. I have all my recipes in binders. I know that I will never in a million years make all of them, but I can't tell you how much joy I receive from sharing. I have so much fun going on a search when someone on the BB requests a certain recipe. But most of the time the people with MC or such usually beat me to it.:D

He He, see folks, I didn't mention you know what like you thought I would. :D

09-11-2007, 04:17 PM
Alright - I am officially inspired and excited to start using the recipe organizers on the computer. However, every once in awhile I am still going to thumb through my cook book just for the heck of it!! Call me crazy but I really do enjoy looking at them and because many have sentimental value I just can't bear the thought of parting with them. :)

09-12-2007, 08:10 AM
Alright - I am officially inspired and excited to start using the recipe organizers on the computer. However, every once in awhile I am still going to thumb through my cook book just for the heck of it!! Call me crazy but I really do enjoy looking at them and because many have sentimental value I just can't bear the thought of parting with them. :)

As a semi-reformed sinner, there is NO reason to ditch your old recipes right now.

I moved over to digital organization and then slowly the light bulb dawned that my clippings and cookbooks were worthless to me since the information was in reality inaccessible.

I followed the flylady approach to getting rid of stuff -- releasing things little by little when the time was right. With each release, I realized that it wasn't a loss -- that I was gaining time and psychological peace of mind (of course this applied to all areas of clutter).

As with all areas, I realized that clutter takes away from the quality of my life (although I still have way too much "clutter" stashed away waiting for me to get to the point where I feel able to release them).

Physical clutter takes time to clean (for example) and "recipe clutter" increases the time it would take me to cook -- we all have limited time and I would rather devote it to actually cooking than to spending copious amounts of time organizing and then looking through cookbooks and binders -- and of course all of that takes up physical space.:) Of course, sometime it's fun to browse through a cookbook - but I can't remember the last time I saw a recipe in a cookbook and actually made it.:D