Organize recipes to save time. You can find the recipe you want quickly and easily without having to search for it. This will also make it easier when menu planning or making grocery list. Another important benefit is that this will preserve your recipes for many years/generations to come.
Gather all your recipes. Print and include the recipes you may have saved on the computer. Discard recipes that are incomplete, ones that you tried but did not like and also the ones you are never going to try.
Group the recipes you are going to keep into categories. You can create categories by types of meal (appetizers and snacks, salads, soups/stews, main dishes, side dishes, desserts), by main ingredient (meats, seafood, pasta, vegetables), by cuisine (Asian, Italian, Mexican), by method of cooking (baking/oven, pressure cooker, slow cooker) or by time of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks).
If you have many meat recipes, you can subdivide the meat category again by type of meat (chicken, pork, beef, seafood). Similarly, if you have many dessert recipes, sub divide them into cookies, cakes, pies and tarts.
You can also make a section for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, if you entertain a lot.
It is a good idea to have a miscellaneous category where you can have a table for conversions and substitutions along with the recipes.
You can look in cookbooks or cooking websites for more ideas on categories.
If your recipes are in the form of recipe cards that are of the same size, you can organize them inside a box. Use recipe card dividers to separate each category and label them. You can use divider tabs cut to size to separate each group of recipes. Divider tabs have raised edges where you can put labels on. Cut them so that the labels rise above the group of recipes making it easier to find.
You can also reuse cardboard pieces, notebook covers, greeting cards or any kind of thick paper (like card stock) instead of divider tabs to separate each category of recipes. Card stock comes in different colors if you would like to color code each group of recipes. Cut the paper with a raised edge or you can get self-adhesive index tabs that are write-on or with printable inserts (available at supermarkets or office supply stores to write/print category names).
If you have standard size (4 x 6 or 5 x 7) recipe cards, you can also use photo albums to store them. Use printable/write-on index tabs to label categories and stick them on the edges of the album pages. This way you can easily find and pull out the recipe you want.
Leave some blank pages/sleeves under each category in the photo album for future recipes.
Another option to organize recipes is a 3 ring binder. Put the pages inside a sheet protector so that you don’t have to punch holes in them. Sheet protectors will also protect the recipe pages and provide easy clean up from spills since you can just wipe them clean. You can use divider tabs to separate and label each category of recipes. Unlike recipe cards in a box, you don’t have to take the recipe out to see both sides of the recipe. Also you can add or remove recipes within each category easily when using a binder, rather than a photo album.
You can scan and print (or photocopy) the recipes on recipe cards into a standard 8.5 x 11 paper and use the binder to organize them. This will preserve your hand written recipe cards as you are not handling them often.
Otherwise you can get photo page inserts that fits standard 3 ring binders to organize your recipe cards inside a binder.
It is a good idea to laminate heirloom/hand written recipe cards.
No matter which storage option you choose, organize recipes alphabetically (by the first word of each recipe) within each category.
Maintain the organization. Return the recipes to the appropriate place right away after use. Also organize new recipes as soon as possible.
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