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How to Organize Your Recipes (and Find Them)!

These days, we are lucky to find time to plan meals, shop for groceries, and get dinner on the table, much less copy recipes by hand onto those little cards. The type of recipe organization method you need depends on what obstacles you're facing when browsing, clipping, and keeping track of all those potentially tasty dishes.

Organization Obstacle 1: Magazines and cookbooks that have great recipes you want to try, but you never remember which magazine or cookbook they are in. Now you have shelves full of resources but no idea where that artichoke spinach dip recipe is.

Solution: Use those little cards for good. Instead of meticulously copying a new recipe onto a recipe card, write the name of the dish, the book or magazine title, and any other reference information, then file in a decorative recipe box. Organize the cards just as you would actual recipes. Use a recipe sleeve to protect often-used cards. Once you've identified a magazine recipe as a favorite, it might be worthwhile to copy or scan it into your computer (see "Too many cookbooks, too little space" below).

Organization Obstacle 2: Keeping Track of Clipped Recipes

Solution: Sort recipes into a three-ring binder recipe book that lets you keep full-page sheets and small clippings. Sort recipes by category, and don't forget to include space for recipes you want to try. Add one "recipe to try" to your schedule each time you do your menu planning; if it's not a fan favorite, remove it from your binder. Recipe books are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, whether your kitchen is retro, traditional, or ultra-modern.

Organization Obstacle 3: Too many cookbooks, too little space

Solution: Re-think your storage space. Space can be at a premium in a busy kitchen; there's no rule that says you have to store cookbooks out in the open. In fact, open shelves can expose your valuable cookbook collection to grease, dust, and humidity…and that can be a recipe for disaster. Check to see if seldom-used items can be stored elsewhere to free up space in the cabinets. You may also have a shelf available in your pantry for often-used cookbooks.

For seldom-used cookbooks, consider scanning and printing the few go-to recipes to store in a decorative recipe file. Give the books to a foodie friend or donate them to a local library or school. Observe the "one in, one out" rule that you tried to keep when organizing your closet: when you get a new cookbook or magazine loaded with fresh ideas, get rid of one you have that is in the way.

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