How do I organize my cooking magazines?
January 7, 2007 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a lot of cooking magazines (well over 100) that I need to organize and I can't figure out how to do it.

I've been keeping my cooking magazines in magazine holders but this doesn't allow me to access them very easily. I'd like to be able to cut out the recipes I like and organize them so that I have easy access a list of recipes and can search for recipes I'd like to make with ease. The problem is that there are often multiple recipes per page and recipes I want on back to back pages - this precludes pasting them into a book. I'd love some suggestions on how to organize them.
posted by sara558 to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Scan, number the resulting (pdf?) files, and then make an index. Say you want Chicken Gumbo w/ Foie Gras or whatever crazy thing, just search your word document for that, then look up the pdf w/ that recipe.
posted by cschneid at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2007

It's very quick to photograph them with a digital camera and save them as jpegs.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2007

You could pull out all the recipes you want and put them in binders inside plastic sheet protectors, that way you'll see both sides. Decide how you want to break up the binders (entree's, desserts, type of cuisine etc) Put an index in each binder of the recipe pages. If a b-side of a recipe isn't in the same catagory as the a-side, then make a note in the index saying which binder has full recipe.

Then, the tricky part. Because you want it searchable, and you'll want to update it, you should do a computer spreadsheet of all the recipes as well. That way you can do more catagorizing by type, main ingredient, cuisine etc. There are also some software programs that you can use to organize, CNET listed a few.
posted by saffry at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2007

I love cooking magazines for pictures and inspiration (and fun ads, I'll admit), but the scanning ideas aren't worth it if it's a common magazine like Bon Appetit or Gourmet. Almost all of those recipes end up on Epicurious, which is entirely searchable. If it's something like Cook's Illustrated, though, which charges your for their online archives, I think that throwing them into the computer would be a great idea.
posted by rossination at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2007

Oh woman, abandon this foolish plan now while you still haven't wasted a single hour of your life on it. I remember helping my mother doing something like this and it drove us both insane. The multiple recipes per page, front back problem was solved by making photocopies at her office.

But of course this was the days before computers (not really we just didn't have one at home). You could make this a lot eaasier and more practical (if slower to start with) by forgeting about cutting out the recipes, and just type up a selection of the recipes you are sure you want to keep, and use some software for keeping them organised, better still, start a weblog.

That way you also won't run into the problem of where to file a recipe for starters that say have fish and vegetables and eggs, you can file them under all categories rather than pick one and then go nuts trying to remember where you put it.
posted by pleeker at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2007

I keep all my magazines and have an Excel file of recipe names and magazine title and month. That way if i want a chicken recipe, I look in the chicken column, find one that sounds good, and go find that magazine. The magazines are on a bookshelf in magazine holders, so it's not hard to find. Minimal typing, no cutting and pasting, no xeroxing. Email me if you want me to send you my Excel file for you to use as an example.
posted by orangemiles at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2007

I echo pleeker. Don't even try something this complicated (scanning that is).

My wife is a chef (and I am a librarian) and has hundreds of magazines. We tried different permutaions of organizing them, all collapsing under their own cumbersome weight. What she eventually hit upon works pretty well.

For the general ones (Gourmet, Saveur etc) she groups them by all by month since they tend to have the same themes repeating year after year. You will always find Xmas baking in December issues, bbq in June/July etc. She more often just likes to browse back issues for ideas, so it is easy to pull all the similar themed issues as the season or need arises.. Most magazines usually have a recipe index somewhere, so we just scan that and have them in a binder again by month, but she does not make use of that too much.

Rossinatio: sadly Epicurious has cut out a lot of their online recipes. We have found more and more that the index is incomplete.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2007

(Thanks for the tip, Razzle - that's a bummer. I guess I'll start being more dilligent in my packratting).
posted by rossination at 2:30 PM on January 7, 2007

Agree with Razzle Bathbone about the cycle of recipes. I stopped subscribing to Cooking Light after accumulating four years' worth.

During a magazine purge a few years ago, I bought an accordian file and labelled each section: Appetizers, Beef/Pork, Breakfast, Poultry, Soups, Sides, Desserts, Seafood, etc. Then clipped and filed accordingly and tossed the rest of the magazine.

The accordian file has turned out been really helpful and is certainly better than our old system, which was clipping recipes and sticking them into a copy of The Joy of Cooking in no particular order.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:52 AM on January 8, 2007

I do what Saffry suggested. The problem is that I like a lot of recipes, and my binder is getting huge (and I don't have as many recipes as you). Otherwise, it's okay. I like having the pictures and the entire caboodle in the original format and color. I try to be judicious about which recipes I choose. It's a bit of a pain to organize and keep up, but I think it's a decent system.
posted by Amizu at 7:46 AM on January 9, 2007

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