How I Organize My Recipes

I love to cook,  but I’m not really a cookbook kind of gal.  I like looking at cookbooks and gaining inspiration, but for whatever reason, it’s rare that I actually make a recipe out of a book.  My go-to sources are the members-only sections of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country, and I’ll sometimes cook recipes from the Food Network website or The Pioneer Woman.  (I get a lot of food “inspiration” from Pinterest, but avoid recipes from there since many of them seem to be of the quality of “I made this once and it worked so I’ll post the recipe” – I have better luck with ones that have been tested a bit more!)

Anyway, so most of my recipes are here, there, and everywhere on the internet, and really it is quite a pain to access them!  A few months ago, I started organizing them into a simple binder so that my tried-and-true recipes are easy to access.  I’ve tried keeping them in a file on the computer, but even though I can see my computer from my kitchen counter, it’s still not easy to use them on the computer since I’m usually needing to change windows or type when my hands are dirty.  I also really wanted to get them all in one place so that if I needed to tell Jeremy or one of the kids to start a recipe, they would actually know where to find it.

I considered doing a photo book as a recipe book, but realized that was going to get really expensive, really fast – plus, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to add new recipes.  (Though, now that I have all our family recipes in one place, I can forsee printing a nice book for my kids when they are older!)

I decided to just format all the recipes nicely in Apple iWork’s Pages, print them out in color, and then laminate them at Mardel.


It costs $0.25 per foot to laminate at Mardel, so it’s really cheap.  It’s also self-serve and there’s not usually a line, so it doesn’t take very long to go in and laminate just a few pages at a time, which is what I’ve been doing as I add tried-and-true recipes to my book.

I’ve also been working on typing up the recipes that I’ve developed on my own and don’t follow a recipe for – mostly so that the aforementioned husband and children can start a recipe if needed!


I added the pages to a simple binder that we had lying around.  At some point, I might buy a pretty one; but my white one is doing just fine (though it’s one of the smaller ones and I need a bigger one!).

I’ll need to figure out a better way to divide it into categories, and perhaps create an index.  The pages aren’t numbered, but in the future, I will be re-printing and re-laminating the whole thing as I tweak recipes and fix typos, so I may add the page numbers and index then.

I only put recipes that I’ve made at least a couple of times in the book.  It seemed to be a whole lot more useful to have a book where you know you like every single recipe, than to have your tried-and-true recipes mixed in with magazine clippings and printouts of ones that you thought looked good enough to try.

All in all, I’m really happy to finally have my recipes organized!   My only problem has been remembering to use the cookbook and not look them up on the computer as I’m accustomed to. :)

How do you organize your recipes?



  1. I’ve done something similar, using page protectors (recycled from a project at work) and a 3-ring binder. I also scavenged a set of index tab page dividers (again, recycled from a work project) to use as section dividers.

    The page protectors have worked out well, as they can be wiped clean, and I can pull out the sheet to make notes on the recipe (i.e. if I’ve made substitutions, Weight Watchers point values, etc.) and I can put two in back-to-back.

  2. My recipes are currently a stack of printouts from the internet that I have to leaf through every time I want to find something. I have been wanting to put them in a binder for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it. Laminating them is an awesome idea!

  3. I made a similar binder…even made a custom coversheet. I’m glad someone else does these same things so I don’t feel so nerdy. I was willing to put money into it and purchased photo sheets that had two horizontal 4X6 slots. I used those for family recipes that I had typed up. Cook’s Illustrated is also a huge resource of mine and I have printed out our tried and true favorites and stuck those inside page protectors. I bought a special binder because I was looking for a certain size/style and a certain type of dividers that stuck out farther than the pages. I also had the idea that there could be a digital version of it that I could print out “copies” of the book for my kids or sisters someday.

    It is still a work in progress…something that I haven’t kept up on…and one of those things that never gets crossed off my “to do” list. I have a folder of “recipes/ideas to try someday” but I would prefer to get those organized into a binder, too, because I usually forget they are there and never end up trying them!

  4. My recipes are all over the place. I made a binder a while back and put recipes by category in page protectors (ie desserts, chicken recipes, etc) But, the ones I use the most tend to stay out on my kitchen counter (well, it’s a window ledge above the sink, really). I also have some saved on my computer as Word documents, some in my favorites, and some on Plan to Eat. My binder has a pocket on the inside and its full of recipes to be filed, as well as new recipes I want to try.

  5. I have collected cooking magazines for years and have tried tons of recipes that we love. Rather than to copy and bind my recipes, here’s what I do. I have shelves in my laundry room where I store all of my magazines. Each stack is by month, so my “January” stack might have issues from 4 different publications over many years. Then I keep a legal pad as my index of all recipes I’ve tried over the years. The first page might be “salads”….the next “soups” etc. Each page has the following columns on it: Recipe Name…Location….Note/special ingredients……Rating.

    In the “Location” column I would list either the cookbook or magazine name or “recipe file”….So it might say “Taste of Home, Jan. 2000, pg. 43”

    In the “Notes” column I might note: “Tim loves this one.” or “Expensive” or “uses Sweetened Condensed milk”.

    The “Rating” column is where I give each recipe a number for 1 to 5 based on how well we liked it.

    This system has served me well for years. If I’m looking for a 5-rating muffin to take to an event…I jsut go to the breads page, scan down the rating column and it tells me where to find the recipe quickly.

  6. For years I’ve printed out recipes that I want to try from and other sites and then written in comments like “5 stars – perfect” or “needs more spice” etc. This works OK, but I have a thick binder overflowing with recipes.

    Just last week my daughter convinced me we should start writing our favorite recipes onto Google docs and that way when my kids leave home it will be easy to send them out with their favorite recipes. Also, it will make it easy to share one or several with friends. So many of us have tablets or laptops, it’s easier to pull up a favorite on screen than to dig through the binder for it. Once we get them all typed in, that is!

  7. I’ve been using the app Pepperplate. You can import recipes using a browser button from websites like All Recipes, Food Network, etc., or cut and paste recipes from other sites or offline. You can tag recipes so I can easily find slow cooker recipes, chicken recipes, etc. It can be accessed from the web or a smartphone. You can add ingredients from recipes to your shopping list which can also be accessed on your phone – which is my favorite feature. You can also export recipes with your notes, which is how I printed some of my favorite slow cooker recipes for my sister to go with her new slow cooker this Christmas. :)

  8. Last year I tackled the recipe conglomeration at my house. I finally organized them into a recipe file box, with protectors from Current ( I don’t remember how much they were, but it was cheap). I have a recipe holder that holds more than one recipe card usually from recent dinners, but for the most part they get filed back away, and I can print recipes I like in the 4 x 6 format and file them away if they are keepers.

  9. How does the Mardel machine work? Do you manually feed your printed pages in and it keeps on running while you do it? Then, when you get home you cut them out? Any way you make sure they all end up the same size?

    • Yep. You manually feed them through and then cut them later. It’s not as heavy duty as some of the office-supply stores, and it’s easiest to just trim it right at the paper’s edge, without a border.

  10. I actually made a binder for my sister in law years ago and when I was done made one for myself as well. Everything was typed into word and then printed and I put them in the sheet protectors and then in a large 3 ring binder. I have them separated into sections like main dishes, sides, deserts. None of my pages are number unless the recipe is a couple pages (I used big font). When picking recipes I just pull them out of the book. I can always pull out a page if I need to make notes or corrections and they page protectors are easy to wipe off when I spill something on them. When I am done I just put it back in my binder. If I need a few recipes for the week I just hang them on the side of the fridge. The cost up front can be a bit for the sheet protectors but you can always add more. Now I just make sure to buy ink for the printed and recycle my empties in the same month so I get good rewards from the office supply place and that could help with the cost. For my sister in law we color coded the recipes depending on who they were from alot were family recipes and now I just add any new ones I really like.

  11. I have 2-3, go-to cookbooks (Taste of Home, BC). As we try a new recipe I leave the cookbook out during the meal. We discuss if we liked it and why or why not (in the case that I can make a few changes). If its one we enjoyed I have a rubber stamp I color with a hilighter and stamp next to the title of the recipe. If we didn’t like it, it just gets marked with an X so we don’t return to it.

    With this system I’m able to flip thru my cookbooks and find my favorites very easily!

  12. I use a 3-ring binder and sheet protectors also for the recipes I’ve printed or modified or are on notecards. I have some sheet protectors that hold two 4×6 cards and some that hold a full page. For my cookbooks, I write my favorite recipe titles and page numbers on the inside of the back cover. That way, if I don’t remember what book it’s in, I just flip to the inside back cover instead of looking at the index. And I’m not shy at all about making lots of notes next to the recipe in the book–that’s why it’s *mine*, not a library book! :)

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