How can I best file and organise my recipes?
July 16, 2017 9:46 AM   Subscribe

I would like to hear Mefite advice on best arranging paper recipes to easily be able to locate them.

Currently I have a big folder of plastic pockets. Recipes (torn out of magazines/scribbled by me/photocopy sheets, ever expanding) are arranged by categories such as beef, fish, pie, pasta, etc. This was manageable back when I started, but now it means flipping through a whole sheaf of paper before I find that awesome thing I'm looking for. How do other people arrange their recipes for best cookery bliss?

One thing: for some reason I struggle reading recipes off a screen (possibly dyspraxia related) , so i don't want to go down the digital route. Thanks.
posted by threetwentytwo to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Three ring binder with plastic sheet protector sleeves.

You can use divider indexing tabs to separate by type (breakfast, dinner, dessert, etc.) and leave empty sleeves at the back of each section

Then any size clipping or printout will fit and can be added in a few seconds. Bonus is the sheet protectors are spill proof and wipe clean.
posted by sol at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2017 [10 favorites]

2nding the 3 ring binder suggestion.

Another suggestion, if you, like many people, have "keeper" recipes that you end up making once a month or more, maybe consider a separate binder for those and another one for recipes that you haven't tried yet or don't expect to make too often. I have this because it was a gift but a plain binder would have done just as well.
posted by eeek at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a couple binders with the heavy plastic page protectors, because I like having a big-print wipe-clean format to work with. I take out the page I'm using and hang it in a clip on a cabinet door while I work. The actual pages are considered disposable, because all of them live in Evernote, where I have clipped them (with the Evernote Web Clipper) or copy-pasted from web pages, or photographed them (because Evernote can search an image) with my phone. The searching and archiving happens in Evernote, stuff doesn't go into the book unless I print and actually make it, which means I'm not maintaining a giant clutter archive on paper.

The binder sections are made with those index dividers, and I have a frequently-used section up front, a section for holiday-type foods, one section just for stuff my husband makes, and then the rest are broken down into categories that make sense in my head. I am fine having a bunch of sections, each with a smaller number of recipes in. Stew vs soup, chicken casseroles vs vegetable casseroles, breakfast basics vs brunch (my term for breakfast that makes many servings). Those divider tabs are cheap, or you can make your own with stick-on tabs.

But if I can't find what I'm looking for, I just search and reprint from Evernote - where I reformat for big clear fonts and decent page breaks before I print. This way, in case of a disaster, I won't lose anything but some plastic and paper but the actual recipes will persist in the cloud. I also do not like working from a screen once I'm in the kitchen, but there's no way I want to actually maintain a paper system.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, also, this system means that after I cook from a recipe I can go back into Evernote and add notes, changes, issues, suggestions and save it for later or reprint it right then to go in a binder.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the people above. My mom gave us all the family recipes in a three ring binder with big heavy plastic sheet protectors and dividers by category. They wipe clean but are accessible if I want to change something or make a note, and the binder lays flat on the counter as needed but can also be propped up on a stand or against a wall to be seen more easily. You can copy clippings or handwritten recipes onto full sheets of paper to make them easier to deal with.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:43 AM on July 16, 2017

I use a similar three-ring binder system. Recipes that I use all the time naturally drift to the front of the bunch in each tab, plus I don't insert a recipe into a plastic sleeve until I have made and loved it.

My really low-tech method for having a recipe handy when I'm using it is to tape it to a cabinet front with removable tape.
posted by DrGail at 12:46 PM on July 16, 2017

I might suggest having a list of recipes at the beginning of each section, handwritten, added as you get one. That way, you just run over the list instead of flipping through each section's pages. It would mean keeping the recipes in "gotten" order so you'd know where it is within its section (so, for instance, you might have "summer vegetables casserole" between "winter vegetables casserole" and "lucy's pot pie").
posted by MovableBookLady at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

From the age of 23 to 43 I used a three-ring binder with all the recipes in plastic sleeves. But recently I relocated my all my cookbooks from one shelf of wrought iron plant stand with bamboo and jute shelves to a little cupboard (where they'd stay cleaner), and the binder wouldn't fit in the cupboard. Moreover the recipes had become so dirty over the years and the binder was breaking apart. I decided to switch to an old school tin recipe box system. For several months I copied a couple of recipes onto index cards per day, a tedious job, but it was so worth it once it was done.

Those recipe boxes hold an astonishing number of index cards -- mine will easily hold over 400 -- and I find it so easy and convenient to just clip the cards to a magnetic clip and stick it on the side of the fridge, where it's at a comfortable eye level for me while I'm compounding the recipe. The recipes stay quite clean because I don't have to touch them while I'm working, and even if a recipe should become stained or spattered, it wouldn't take long for me to recopy it.
posted by orange swan at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2017

I like MovableBookLady's idea using orange swan's system. Number the index cards so you can easily put them back in order. Example:

B1 - grits
B2 - hash browns
B3 - easter eggs

L1 - salad
L2 - other salad
L3 - sandwich

S1 - supper salad
S2 - rice
S3 - beans

D1 - icecream
D2 - icecream sandwich
D3 - affogato

Add categories and recipes as needed.
posted by aniola at 4:33 PM on July 16, 2017

I have tons of paper recipes that require multiple binders. I find it helpful to classify the binders by Season - "Fall/Winter" and "Spring/Summer", since I tend to cook quite differently per season. I then micro-classify the binders into sections like casseroles, soups, stews, grill, main-dish salads, etc. I do have one binder called "Weeknight Cooking" which has speedy recipes in it (along with the recipes that I can't readily classify into Seasons) and a "Holiday/Entertaining" binder.
posted by sarajane at 10:00 AM on July 17, 2017

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