Organizing Strategies: Recipes

organizing recipes

One of the goals I had for 2010 was to do an organization series. Hmmm. It’s May and so far I’ve only written about how I organize the contents of my freezer. You don’t think I need to be more organized, do you?

I admit I’m not a super-organized person. But I do like organizing and have found a few strategies that work for me that I would like to share. One of them is organizing recipes. I do not, however, think my recipe organization method is the best, most awesomest method ever. But I’m sharing anyway.

Why? Because I don’t believe a perfect organization method exists. Each person has different amounts of time, energy, and needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work. In light of this, you can feel free to see how I do it and then choose another method if you think it would work best for you. I do have to say, though, that when I started this method, it was like a light going off- it immediately became easier to find a recipe I wanted without going through stacks (and stacks…) of papers. But no matter what method you choose, hopefully you’ll be inspired to get those recipes in order!

I keep my most-used cookbooks above the stove along with the binders I use for organizing my recipes. I have a two-binder system – the first type of binder is for small clippings and recipe cards.

These “binders” are actually three-pocket page photo albums. I found two that coordinated with my decor at Target years ago. They had a fabric type cover, though, so I used clear Contact paper over the outsides to protect them. And since they were both the same (because I really liked them…) I just numbered them “1” and “2.”

I attached stick-on dividers from an office store to make my own divisions. This is another bonus to making your own versus using a pre-made system- I could make as many divisions as I needed and use labels that made the most sense for me. Here are the divisions I used to give you an idea:

Small recipes book 1:

  • Salads
  • Soups/Stews
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Meat (beef & pork)
  • Casseroles/Vegetarian
  • Sides

Small recipes book 2:

  • Breakfast
  • Bread
  • Desserts/Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Appetizers/Sauces/Etc.

Then I just placed all the recipes (well…I did throw a bunch away that I wondered why I’d been keeping!) in the photo sleeves. Some I have to pull out to read the whole recipe, but I try to cut and tape them so they can be read without having to be taken out. This is pretty simple, but such a revelation for me. It is so much easier than the little recipe boxes and files I (attempted) to use before.

The little photo pockets don’t work for large pages from magazines or printed online (which I do more and more), so I use a second type of binder as well: your basic three-ring binder with divider pages labeled similar to the photo albums. They include clear page covers which make it easy to slide large clippings into (or out of…) as well as regular hole-punched pages. This is what most people use, I think, but what helped me was realizing I didn’t have to try and fit all the recipes into one size binder- it OK to have two. Because those little clippings were a pain to try and fit into the large binders. I find it much easier to slip them into the photo pockets.

I’ve outgrown only one large binder, though, so I have three now (Salads/Mains, Appetizers/Breads/Bfst., and Cakes/Desserts) plus some specialized binders. These include a binder dedicated to slow-cooker recipes, one for all my homemade “basics” recipes (Pantry basics as well as health/beauty recipes) and a new one I added recently to house our past menus. I keep our past menus to be able to refer to when making new menus and I arranged them by month so I can easily find what we like to eat for that season using what is growing in the garden or on sale.

Here’s where it gets real: on top of the microwave sits a cute little tray my kids made us one year for Christmas. I use it to keep the current month’s menu on top and the recipes I’ll need for the menu, plus any new recipes I find that need to be put in the binders. Nothing wrong with that.

Except, this stack is now about an inch deep and I find myself rifling through it to find a recipe a lot because I haven’t put them into the binders. See? Nothing’s perfect.

Now please make sure to watch the accompanying video Brian made about this topic. A video on recipe organization? Yeah, I know- I tried to tell you he was weird and now you’ve got the proof. But he’s good for a laugh. Actually he’s great for a laugh. It’s what makes life so fun with him.


This is linked to:
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
It’s a Hodgepodge Friday @ It’s a Hodgepodge Life
Finer Things Friday @ The Finer Things


  1. says

    Oh…I love to be organized too! I like your system so much better than the one I am trying to make work! Your’s is much prettier, too! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. says

    Hello Jami,
    visiting you via Thrifty Designer…
    I believe you can propagate hydrangeas by way of cuttings with rooting hormone – small – two leaves
    on new wood – or you can press a stem into the dirt with a stone or brick – scratch the stem touching the dirt and roots can grow!
    I need to organize my recipes. I inherited a box full from my dad. Haven’t had the heart to go through them since he passed away. But, I think it would be good for me.
    Anyhow – lovely to meet you :)

  3. says

    I am totally inspired by your recipe organizers, what a fabulous idea, I have some time off this summer and may try it too, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful idea’s! Debbie @ Cottage Hann~Me~Downs

  4. says

    Thanks for the inspiration! I have tons of recipes printed off the internet & clipped from newspapers and torn from magazines. It would be nice (and helpful) to organize them!! =0) I love your ideas!

  5. says

    I have a lot of recipes I’ve saved from magazines and such. Thanks for sharing these great tips, maybe I can finally get them organized and use them!

  6. says

    Lightbulb moment:) I too use a 3-ring binder and sheet covers to house recipes, but it never occurred to me that I could use more than one notebook, a little goofy, eh? Thanks for the tip! My binder overfloweth…

  7. Trifle Recipe Cards says

    Trifle Recipe Cards was created out of a desire to provide recipe cards that are unique, affordable and adorable. Our recipe cards are designed, customized, personalized, and printed right here in the USA. Each recipe card is made with premium card stock and water resistant ink to ensure they withstand the rigors of your kitchen.

  8. AnnJo says

    I’d like to share a recipe trick I started using a couple of years ago. I created a three-column, 5 to 7-row table in my word-processing program. Using 9 point font, I typed a recipe into each cell. Each recipe is organized by steps; ingredients and measures are abbreviated. Recipes of similar length are kept in the same row to avoid wasting space.

    The result is between 15 and 21 recipes on a single sheet of paper. I have two of these, containing more than 30 recipes, taped to the inside of a cupboard door over my work area. To use a recipe, all I need to do is open the cupboard door. The recipes stay clean, are right at eye leve while I’m working, and never get lost.

    To expand the system, you can fold additional sheets and tuck them behind the taped ones, then pull them out and use a paper clip to clip the sheet you want to use to one of the taped ones.

    Here’s an example of the steps and abbreviations, using your Honey Mustard Dressing recipe I’m adding to my next sheet:


    1. Mince 1 cl garlic
    2. Blender: #1 + 1/4C ea. hony, Dijon mstrd; 1/3C rice vingr; 2T lemon jc.
    3. Drizzle 3/4C EVOO into #2.
    3. + S (~ 1/4t) AN*
    Yld: ~ 1-1/2C.

    *(as needed)

    Besides keeping the recipes handy, having the steps clearly identified makes for much faster prep work. I try to streamline things as much as possible – everything that gets measured by cup in a single step is listed together, then everything measured in spoons, etc. But then, I’m incredibly lazy, so anything to save work! Why pick up a cup measure twice when once will do?

    A novice cook may want to include more detailed directions, and be less terse with abbreviations, but this works for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>