I know I have that somewhere....
August 27, 2009 12:17 AM   Subscribe

How do you store or manage your recipes?

I'm looking for a low tech way to manage my receipes. I've tried the computer thing but it really doesn't do it for me... So I'd like to know what you people out in the wide internet world do? Index cards, binders, decorative boxes?

Right now I use 3x5 cards but they don't seem to hold all the info I need.
posted by saradarlin to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

But really, since I went online, it's been a revelation. All I do is email each recipe to a dedicated Gmail account, then tag it according to course(s), cuisine(s), vegan/vegetarian/non-vegetarian. Easy to share, easy to search, easy to implement, easy to print if needed, and easy to carry my laptop over to the kitchen.
posted by tavegyl at 12:35 AM on August 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

A blank page recipe book. It was my Mum's. It has sections for different types of food/courses. When I come across a recipe I like, I copy it by hand or print it out and stick it in the book. I also love reading my childhood favourite recipes in my Mum's handwriting, some of which she got from her Mum. I'll need a new one soon when this one fills up but this system works for me.
posted by Kerasia at 12:41 AM on August 27, 2009

I use those photo albums with the sticky pages, where on each thickish page you can like peel back a sticky plastic cover and stick stuff underneath and re-put the cover back on, and each page goes into a binder. That way it adapts to the size of my recipe, and a bunch of small ones can fit on the same page, or i can write/print out a bigger one if need be. The fact that it's a binder makes it easy to sort and the fact that the recipes are covered by plastic makes me less nervous about having my mom's handwritten recipes in there. Sadly my current one is slightly smaller than 8.5x11 so i end up having to trim any full sheets of paper i put in there, but i don't think they're all like that.
posted by brainmouse at 1:06 AM on August 27, 2009

I only have an organizational system for online as well. I use del.icio.us and then tag the recipe with "recipe" and type of course ("maindish", "soup", "dessert" etc) and whatever prominent ingredients I might want to filter by ("onions", "chicken", "vegetarian").

When I use a recipe I also tag it with "made".

When I make our weekly menu, it's super easy to filter by whatever mood I fancy. Works a treat!

I have yet to find a good system for the recipes in my books. I have nothing for recipes in my head.
posted by like_neon at 1:36 AM on August 27, 2009

I used to use binders with plastic sleeves - they'll take handwritten notes, photocopies from books, pages ripped from magazines. It was a bit difficult to settle on a system for keeping it organised, but once I'd decided on one way of doing it I was fine.

Now I use Evernote, pretty much the way it's described here, only with less scanning and more clipping from web pages. I've been typing in a few old favourites as I make them.
posted by harriet vane at 3:47 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was going to say the same thing that harriet said above - 3-ring binder, sleeves that take all kinds of sizes of recipes. Sometimes I glue or tape the smaller recipe onto a colorful background piece of paper so it doesn't float around in the sleeve.

I have a lot of recipes that I have emailed to myself, but I am definitely going to check out Evernote! Thanks!
posted by LilBit at 4:47 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was using MacGourmet. Usually if I found a recipe online, I'd bookmark it and tag it and then add it later. Lately, however, I've gone back to pen and paper. I have a nice-looking moleskine knock-off that was about five bucks and I write everything in there. I like this better for some reason, even if it may be more work.
posted by synecdoche at 5:23 AM on August 27, 2009

I use a 3 ring binder. Recipes that are still "in progress", i.e., I'm still tweaking them are on notebook paper. Once a recipe has been codified and tested a couple of times, then I type it in the system, file it in my recipes folder, take a picture of the finished product, then print a page with the printed picture and the recipe, which goes in my 3 ring binder in a plastic sleeve. The system back up is just in case of a tragic 3 ring binder accident. ;)

If it's a difficult process, or something I think I might forget how to do, or something that I know friends will want to try, I'll often take pictures of the process, and create a PDF or html page of instructions. I don't print those out, usually. I just stick em online.

I love delicious for tagging recipe ideas; but I've found that I'm a recipe-tweaker by nature, and almost never do I use a recipe exactly as written by someone else, so it's better for me to print it out, make it and take notes, and then follow the process outlined above.

Because in the back of my head, there's always been this idea that I might create a cookbook, I'm very careful to annotate where recipes have come from, if I'm using someone else's recipe.
posted by dejah420 at 5:37 AM on August 27, 2009

I also use a photo album with the sticky sheets covered in plastic. I like it because I can cut a recipe out from a magazine or a newspaper, and just stick it in there. It doesn't really matter what size it is. I have multiple recipes on some pages and others have just one with a big picture. I can peel back the plastic to add notes on how a dish came out and because the pages are plastic-covered, I can easily wipe it off if it gets spattered on the counter.

I also use a 4x6 recipe box as sort of an on-deck circle of recipes I want to try. If I make it and like it, it gets moved into the permanent recipe book.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:40 AM on August 27, 2009

Nth the 3 ring binder and plastic sleeves. It's simple, cheap, and (unlike my netbook) I can get flour on it without freaking out.
posted by anti social order at 5:50 AM on August 27, 2009

I do a crappy handwritten copy (since pretty much all my recipes come from the internet) that I use while I'm actually making the thing for the first time. I also write things on this copy as I'm going along (such as noting that more flour or water is better). If the recipe is a keeper, I copy it neatly into my 3 ring binder with my notes.
posted by sperose at 6:10 AM on August 27, 2009

I used to use small handwritten journals, as I totally get the appeal of recipes in a specific person's handwriting (my husband has a small recipe book of his late mother's recipes in her handwriting and is very attached to it). A few years ago I stopped doing it, mostly in the interest of time.

Now I use a three-ring binder, in which I can tape recipes that I've gotten from the newspaper or magazines onto a three-hole-punched piece of paper. If I get a recipe from the internet I can just print in out on regular paper and punch the holes. My mother uses this method also but since she's retired and has more time for projects, she usually decorates her pages with cute food stickers and then uses her color copier to photocopy the pages for neatness and uniformity; a scanner might be good for this if you want to store online for a backup.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:44 AM on August 27, 2009

By "computer thing" do you mean storing .doc or .pdf in a file on your computer, or do you mean some web-based recipe bookmarker/organizer? I store my recipes in my computer, but it's essentially just a digital file box/ringbinder. Sometimes I print them out to use, sometimes I just haul the laptop into the kitchen. I used to use a ring binder divided into: Bakery, Vegetables, Meat, Soup, Chinese (half my family is Chinese), Fruits, Liquids and Drinks, Holiday. These are now the labels on my computer folders. I sometimes have recipes in more than one place.

I switched to the nice, searchable computer folder, because unfortunately, I also have a hard folder into which I've stuffed random newspaper and friend's recipes in no particular order, relying on my ability to remember that Holly gave me an amazing recipe for raspberry compote once. One of these days I'll get around to scanning/retyping them.
posted by nax at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2009

We normally print out a recipe we like, or make it from the book the first time. If it's a keeper, we'll put it into the keep pile and copy it out by hand into a blank notebook later. I'll annotate the old recipes with comments and discoveries over the years.

I'm a big fan of writing out recipes. Clipping and pasting just doesn't work as well for me. As well as including new finds, it allows me to mix in those "heritage" recipes from family and friends and keep everything together.

Like Kerasia, I like seeing the handwriting on the page, and I find, just as with taking notes and revising them in school, the physical act of writing helps solidify the recipe in my mind. Looking back at the recipes, one can see a pattern of likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn't. Reflecting on the recipes and compiling them this way, I find, leads to a greater understanding of what other cooks think and how that affects your own cooking.
posted by bonehead at 7:48 AM on August 27, 2009

Physically the notebooks I use are hardbound, at least hardback book sized or larger, generally 100-200 pages. Spiral bounds tear to easily, paperbound are too easy to damage. Smaller pages are too small, as you've discovered. The smallest convenient size to me is about the size of the large Moleskein 5' x 8'. That's comfortable room to put a single complex recipe on one page. I like blank pages because I like to sketch things into them, my partner prefers lined.

I've found that artists' notebooks work well, like this basic one, and are reasonable priced. I have something very similar in 8 1/2 x 11 and it works very well for me.
posted by bonehead at 7:56 AM on August 27, 2009

If you handwrite, I might suggest using pencil instead of pen--I always did, largely because if you drip on a page, pencil lead suffers far less than ink. I understand that some folks might have a problem with that because they don't press hard enough on a pencil to make the writing dark enough to read comfortably while cooking, but that's never been an issue for me.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:02 AM on August 27, 2009

Like many others here, I use a 3-ring binder. A big one - 3 inches. I use tabbed dividers: chicken, pork & other meat, vegetarian, sides, desserts, misc.

I use 3-hole punched plastic sheet protectors. This allows me to either print a recipe, placing the whole sheet in the protector (with another recipe on the other side), or I can take a piece of paper or card stock and tape smaller recipes on it, placing the card stock in the protector. This works well for recipes from magazines or the newspaper, etc.
posted by peep at 8:51 AM on August 27, 2009

I usually find my recipes online. When I go to print them out, I also print to .pdf, and save them in a folder. This way, I have a physical printed copy, and a digital copy. Both are formatted for regular size paper.

The paper then gets hole punched and goes into a 3 ring binder, which ideally is organized into categories (currently it's a big mess). When thinking about what to cook in the coming week, I move my 5/7 dinner recipes to a front section of the binder, and make the shopping list from that. This way, both the BF and I can think about what to cook that night, and we can both find the recipes. I'll add notes to the paper copy, and heavily used pages get a plastic protector. It's not the prettiest looking system, but it works.

I've also been trying out different database programs, like SousChef (for mac). I like it, but haven't totally converted yet.
posted by fontophilic at 10:02 AM on August 27, 2009

I like to live dangerously and bring the laptop to the counter where I'm working. Not kidding. And so far no spills. For me it's easier than dealing with the cookbook holders and bulky binders I used to have. Plus, doing it this way I remember to rate the recipe after it's done.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:22 AM on August 27, 2009

nthing Evernote. God I love it.
posted by dmd at 5:01 PM on August 27, 2009

I use Spark Recipes. I have all my recipes in cookbooks based on genre, so it is easy to open a genre up and browse e.g. breakfast, lunch, soup, entree, snack. I like Spark Recipes because it calculates the nutrition info for me, and when I periodically do a few days of journalling to make sure I am on track (I have special dietary issues) I can just click to add it to my daily tracker on Spark People.
posted by JoannaC at 9:12 PM on August 27, 2009

I sort of kind of remember stuff, and then use the Google to find recipies that will help me make stuff. This is very tidy, but there is a chocolate cake I can't find.

Also, I have a couple shelves of cookbooks from the turn of the 19th century up through the middle of the 20th and those are fun to use.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:13 PM on August 27, 2009

Thanks for the good ideas so far. For computer thing, I've done word files, PDF and web bookmarks. It was just a pain to print out or read from a laptop when cooking. If anyone has a computer system that they love I would consider revisiting but as people mentioned, there's just something about making brownies from a recipe card that shows the years of wear (mine and my monthers).

I will check out Evernote though. Keep the advice coming!
posted by saradarlin at 9:24 PM on August 30, 2009

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