On Recipe Organization

So, I LOVE to cook. Some women don’t like to come home after working a full day and have to cook, but it’s literally one of my favorite times of day! It’s my “me” time, it’s my relaxation time, it’s my time to create and experiment with flavors, textures and styles!

As you can imagine, I’m always finding new recipes. I see them on blogs, I get them in my email, I get them from friends, I pin them on Pinterest…you get the idea. And almost none of them come in the exact same form.

This created a large build-up of papers (of all shapes and sizes), napkins, recipe cards, etc. Whatever form the recipe came in was shoved into a folder, which meant that every time I said, “Hmmm…where did I put that recipe for Paula Deen’s meatloaf I found the other day?” I had to pull out the folder and dig through until I found the desired item. VERY ANNOYING. Not to mention that our kitty figured all the papers spread everywhere was a direct invitation to come along and pounce away. An even bigger mess.

As the holidays drew near (last year), our family began to set up menus for all of the events, and there are always requests for specific dishes I make. The only problem was finding the recipe for all the requested dishes. And I was over it this past holiday season. Something had to give.

So, I searched and searched for the perfect solution. To no avail. After a few weeks of frustration, my husband commented, “Geeze, why don’t you just make your own! You make everything else, don’t you? That way you can customize the whole thing and it will be exactly how you want it to be!”

Smart man I married, smart man.

Here’s what I did – it’s all pretty simple.

1. I picked up a black 2-inch ring notebook, a set of black and white 8.5 X 11 scrapbook papers and a set of sheet protectors from Walmart.

2. I went through all of my recipes and separated them all into categories that made sense to ME and the way I cook.

3. I created sections for each chosen category using the sheet protectors, scrapbook papers and my big label maker.

4. I put ALL of my recipes on the SAME SIZE sheet of paper in black and white.



What I love about it:

    • It’s all black and white. I’m a very black and white person, literally and figuratively, so this worked great for me, and it saves on printer ink, too – but you can do it in any color combination!
    •  It’s customized so I know exactly where everything is.
    • It’s easy to add a new recipe.

Here’s what a section looks like:


And here’s what a typical entry looks like! (I just copied this out of a magazine somewhere…I think! Ha!)


I even made the back cover pretty!


I was originally going to put a Table of Contents on the back cover, but I decided not to yet, because I’m always adding and changing things!

This made the holiday season much less stressful, I have to say, and it’s still working perfectly. Did I mention it makes meal planning and grocery shopping SO MUCH EASIER? It does!

Whatcha think? Fairly simple, right?

If choosing categories and organizing everything from scratch makes you nervous, never fear! Check out these templates:

Clean Mama
A Bowl Full of Lemons
Prudent Baby

Those should help!

How about you? How do YOU organize YOUR recipes?

26 thoughts on “On Recipe Organization

  1. Great idea!! My wife did a similar thing. She’s trained to be a chef from college and she has notebooks full of organized recipes. Some she came up with herself.

  2. This is very timely. I just decided yesterday to go thru my “Favorites” tab and write down all the recipes I have saved. Now I know what I can do with them. 🙂

  3. I find it works so much better if I organize things my own way rather than trying to use a system that someone else developed. I store most of my recipes on the computer but the ones I used (and printed) a lot, I ended up taping to the inside of our kitchen cabinets. I really like your idea of making a binder though for the cookbook recipes I always have to search out.

  4. You are my kinda lady! I like your creative cover. My binder is boring but you gave me an idea…I got a coupon for JoAnn’s, gonna use that to get some scrap paper to prettfy my recipe binder.

    You loving to cook helps me out a great deal! My husband is straight meat and potatoes and it’s challenging cooking for him. If you call anything a casserole we won’t eat it. He closed his ears and started humming when I told him baked macaroni was a casserole. LOL! I know…gotta love’m.

  5. I need to go through mine again and straighten them. 🙂 We tend to eat the same things, so I rarely use recipes, with a few new recipes thrown in every once in a while, so I haven’t looked in my cookbook except to throw in the recipes that we tried an liked. I got one of those premade cookbook kits from Hobby Lobby. I’m sure your version is much cheaper. And it’s super cute too! My has a scary rooster on the front. :-p

  6. I used to have mine in a notebook in sheet protectors… but somehow they all escaped so they’re stuffed inside the notebook. I think I need a bigger notebook. Plus… I have lots of repeats because I re-write them down all the time. I love that you did it in black and white. Everything is always color color color. And while I love color, I don’t love the idea of shelling out some pretty pennies for it all. Plus, it’s nice to have it just be simple and relaxing and just what it is. Plus, it has some lovely patterned paper in it for some punch. I think I’ll need to brave my recipe collection one of these days. I’ll give you a call for moral support.

  7. What a great idea. I too am a lover of cooking which is surprising because I could hardly brown ground beef when I met my husband. I honestly don’t use a whole lot of recipes anymore most of the time I wing it. A little of this a little of that and voila, Dinner! I am trying to get better about writing things down though since I am starting a paleo food blog. Maybe a note book like this is just the ticket. Great Idea.

  8. I WISH YOU had been at my house today then! Company coming tomorrow AND a ladies event at my church. Cooking for both…started at 9:30 this morning and didn’t totally finish until 9:00 tonight!! I hate cooking with a passion! I’m glad you like it. All the recipes can look pretty, I still won’t enjoy the cooking. I’ll clean up, no problem, I just don’t want to cook. 🙂

  9. Talk about brilliant minds… We are such kindred spirits. I was organizing and putting together a cookbook before last Christmas too! I also used a three-ringed binder and page protectors. It worked amazingly well for the book I was putting together for my son. I had bought him a mini crockpot for college and compiled a book of recipes to go with it. I had all the different categories and everything. It’s is a GREAT way of doing this: it’s rearrangeable and expandable! I just used white paper and black ink, but I did have a lot of fun with fonts. I couldn’t go too crazy, it was for my son… LOL

    Life With Lorelai

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  11. I started a recipe binder and then I stopped now I have recipes everywhere. I don’t have kids at home so I don’t rarely cook. But, I do love this idea. Thanks for sharing at Throwback Thursday.


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