how do you organize recipes?

claraserenaJune 26, 2007

I have 120 pages of recipes on a Word document, recipes on cards in file boxes, recipes torn from magazines and newspapers and lots of Martha Stewart LIving magazines. It's such chaos that I end up going on-line for a recipe when I know I have a really really good one SOMEWHERE among my "files". Any ideas?

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Oh Sure; I've got that one covered! First of all you're way ahead of the game since you have so many already on your computer. What I've done is typed my absolute favorites (also in Word) with a font that I particularly like, that isn't commonly used. This way I know I've taken the time to make sure the recipe I'll make over and over again. On the recipe page, I usually reference where I got the recipe and make notes at the bottom in italics, so if there's something that made it easier, or an important step to remember it's all there. I may also make notes on when I tried it, who I made it for, and what they thought of the dish (which is fun to remember and makes it like a scrapbook for recipes). Typically, I also list all the ingredients in bold type so when I'm making a shopping list, it's easy to read. Those go into a binder with all the categories indexed, with headings like Breakfast, Italian, Mexican, Bar-B-Que, etc. What I also like about this method is when you want to share a recipe with someone, you can print off another copy since it's already in your database.

For those recipes I want to try, I copy or paste as written and print. This allows me the space to make changes, or make notes about the recipe. Once I deem it worthy to go into my Favorites binder, it's retyped (or copied and pasted) in the font I've chosen (with appropriate notes) and put into the binder. This way I know exactly which recipes I've chosen to make over and over again because they are Favorites.

I do this with anything I'll want to make again so I don't have to try to remember where I got the recipe, or have to look it up again in my cookbook collection. I've often said if my house were burning down, the one thing I'd run to save would be my Favorite Recipes binder! A friend was reading my recipes and laughing about some of my notes, in particular one that read, ''Oh, WOW. These are the waffles you always wanted to eat, but could never find.''

This works well for me, but you'll have to be the judge of how well it may work for you.

Here's an example of the way I print a recipe without the font change:

No-Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll peanut butter mixture into little balls. Bake 12 minutes for chewy cookies; Bake 15 minutes for crisp. Makes 24 to 30 cookies.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 1:09PM
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I have used the program called Mastercook for years. I enter all my "keeper" recipes into. I have created my own cookbook within it with my picture on the cover. Entering ingredients is easy as it has a fast fill preference. For example if I type ta it gives me the tablespoon option, pork t and it gives me pork tenderloin. You have different printing styles as well. It is really easy to email recipes using this program. It comes with several digital cookbooks but I never use them. I back-up my recipes onto a CD or external hard drive every so often so I won't lose them if my hard drive crashes.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 1:29PM
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Lena M

Great ideas here!
I scan recipes I like from cookbooks, and create PDFs. I use OCR to extract the text - Adobe Acrobat version works well. I also take photos of recipes using my digicam (it even has a setting for text).


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 5:16PM
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I tend to look up recipes online now. I'll print it off. For those paper recipes, I started out by going through the pile. Handwritten from my mom or MIL or recipes I had tried and liked got put in a stack. Torn out stuff (not yet tried) went in the trash. There are recipes every week in the paper and in every magazine I read. I wasn't afraid it would be a once in a lifetime recipe. The ones I kept are in a recipe binder which has pockets for the different catagories. I just slip them in there.

When we see something we would like to try in a magazine, I rip it out right then and there and put it in a manila envelop with my recipe binder. I look through these about once a year. I usually throw most of them away. If we try something and it's a keeper, it goes in the binder pocket. Not a keeper goes right in the trash.

I still pick up cookbooks at the thrift shop and don't hesitate to rip out pages. If it's a library book, I just make a copy. I'm not going to ever remember one recipe from a book, so it's better to pull it out and get the book out of my space. I'm not interested in changing over to a computer system. I just want to pull my little binder out of the cabinet, put the recipe on the counter and cook.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 7:52PM
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I use a program called MacGourmet for my keepers. I have all our best recipes with me when we travel, since I usually take my laptop for photo storage. I can also print out recipes for binder storage or email to friends.

For keepers in cookbooks I own, I always use a yellow highlighter to highlight the recipe title plus all references to it in the Index in the back of the cookbook.

I use Post-it notes for recipes I want to try in books & magazines.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:00PM
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I used to put all my recipes into plastic sleeves and organized them by type of food. Now, I save the untried recipes in its own folder. The recipes that are tried and true are saved in another folder and the title of each one is like this: Beef BEEF STEW. This makes it easier for me to find a recipe. Even among these recipes, there are some that I cook more often than others. I am going to follow the advice above and put the titles of these in a different font. Whenever I need a recipe, I just print it off.

After losing all my recipes a few years ago when my computer crashed, I now save these recipes to my yahoo account and update this every so often. I don't know how to save the whole folder at one time and have been saving each recipe one at a time into a yahoo folder. Does anyone know how to save the whole word folder into yahoo in one easy step?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 2:54PM
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I print or photocopy out my recipes, and put them in a binder with plastic sleeves. That way, if they get splashed on, it's easy to wipe off. I keep them organized by "type" within the binder -- general "American" food, Italian, Mexican dishes, and so on, so we can easily find a recipe when we're in the mood for a specific type of thing (we're vegetarian, so we can't really split things up by the more usual way of beef, poultry, etc). I occasionally make notes on Post-it notes as I'm working on a new recipe, and if it's a "keeper", will then transfer the notes to the paper inside the sleeve. If it's not a keeper, it gets pulled and replaced with something else to try later.

My favorite magazine for recipes is Vegetarian Times; I also keep an eye out for good vegetarian cookbooks -- but I'm a very lazy cook, so any recipes have to be minimal effort recipes ;) I use post-it notes to indicate any recipes to be photocopied for later.

My husband and I really only "cook" once a week (the rest of the time it's just easy, fast pasta or take out) -- I usually let him pick the recipe that he wants out of The Book, and we cook together. It's been fun.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 3:28PM
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I also use plastic sleeves. I tend to write directly on the recipe "family fave" or something similar to show that it's one we like. If I've changed the recipe I write the changes directly on it.

Small recipes or things I've cut off boxes are glued to construction paper and get a sleeve as well. I try to group them to save paper and plastic.

I've got a fairly good-sized notebook now! I've done the same thing with all the "great ideas" I find in magazines; I call it my "Idea" notebook. Tearing the articles out of magazines, filing it in the notebook and tossing the rest of the magazine makes excellent sense for organization and clutter control.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 2:48AM
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I organize my recipes by not having very many.

I keep the loose ones, either on a 4x6 card, with a hole punched in one corner, and stuck into one of those oversize binder rings.

But then I got lazy, and now I just stick them in the front of the baking drawer.

I also have only a very few cookbooks, and a friend gave me these really neat bookmarks (w/ a slit in them that you can slide over the pages do they don't slip out, and they poke up above the book like atab, and you write the name of the recipe on the tab. So I only put bookmarks on the recipes I know I like, and I just ignore the other ones.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 9:53AM
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I have Living Cookbook software and an OLD little wooden recipe box. I have put most of my old recipes on the program. When there are recipes I want to try, they go into my "Want to Try" cookbook on the computer; if they're worth keeping, they get transfered to "Becky's best" cookbook.

One really convenient feature is that I can "capture" recipes from web sites into the program. Before I got the software, I had tons of printed recipes that sounded good at some point, then couldn't find them by category, etc. when I wanted to try it.

Recipes from magazines, I can scan onto computer, then capture into program.

It's been a GREAT help!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 1:15PM
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Mine have all found their way to my computer, either through recipe sites or my old ones on cards to Word Perfect. I print them out and put them in a photo album, loose leaf with the plastic peel back to put the recipe on the sticky part, then cover with the plastic over top of the recipe. This way I can take out one page for reference while cooking and not have to deal with the whole book, and it wipes clean if I splatter.

I have to say that the newer programs sound interesting; I may have to try one out. I love the recipe sites where you can change the # of servings. I'd like a program like my old DOS one that gave fat and calorie values......after I had input a lot of the foods that the program didn't have, along with their values - manually!! OK, I'm going back awhile ;-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 1:50PM
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