Do you find meal planning to be a pain? Maybe it is time to get your recipe house in order
Do you have endless cookbooks stuffed in a cupboard? Or handwritten recipe cards stuffed... everywhere? How many recipes have you pinned in Pintrest? Given the sheer number of ways and places we can keep them, it’s no secret that organizing your recipe collection is tough. With recipes from so many different sources and in so many different formats, finding the right system for you to ensure everything is well kept can be a big challenge. We were doing some research for this blog, and found a GREAT set of resources over on Whisk.com. Check out their article here if you like, or read on for our summary of their points.
The experts at Whisk.com suggest you start with breaking it down into a few simple steps to begin:
Gather all of your recipes
Group recipes based on the format
Choose an organizational method
Categorize your recipes
Determine an organizational system that works for you
Let's dive in!
1.) Gather all of your recipes
Before you can organize, you have to take inventory. Where do your recipes live? Take a minute to think about all the different places you currently store your recipes—both physically and digitally. Some suggestions to get started:
Social media- Pinterest boards, Facebook/Instagram/Tik Tok/ Youtube Videos
Snips from magazines/newspapers
Saved in google or word docs on your computer
Handwritten recipe cards
Screenshots/ photos on your phone
Cutouts from food boxes/ can wraps
Take some time to collect your recipes from as many sources as you can find. Once you have them gathered up, spread them out and get to work!
2.) Group your recipes by format
In the process of gathering your recipes, you likely noticed that you have saved them in a variety of places. Use the following 'buckets' as guides to begin your organization:
Photo by Kim Pufahl for Outshine Co
Printed recipes- these include any physical recipes you have. These may come in the form of cookbooks, handwritten recipe cards, magazine cutouts, box clippings, even recipes scribbled on a piece of scrap paper. If you can hold it in your hand, it belongs in this bucket.
Digital recipes- these include anything you have in your computer, tablet or phone. Think social media, videos, digital notes etc. Anything you do not have a physical copy of.
From here, you can start the process of prioritizing what is important and decluttering your collection
3.) Clean up your collection
Before you go any further, you might want to do some editing. Take some time to sift through your recipes and decide which you want to keep and which you want to toss.
Start with physical recipes, and then move on to your digital recipe collection. Are you holding on to recipes you’ve tried and didn’t like? What about recipes that you’ve been meaning to try but never have?
There’s no reason to organize a recipe you’re not interested in. Stay with your tried-and-true recipes—the ones you really cannot live without—or ones that you’re excited to try out. Once you’ve gone ahead and decluttered your recipe collection, you’re finally ready to get to the good stuff.
4.) Choose a method
You’ve gathered, grouped, and decluttered your recipes. Let's get down to the business of organizing.
Think about how you use your recipes now. Do you find it easier to follow a printed or digital recipe? Do you like to use voice assistants like Alexa or Google to help you when you’re cooking? Maybe you prefer a mix of both.
Whether you decide to store your recipes digitally, physically, or both is dependent on how you prefer to use them in your everyday life. Here are some pros for each method:
Pros for storing recipes digitally:
It eliminates clutter
You’ll always know where your recipes are stored
You can use voice assistants to help you while you cook
It’s easy to share your recipes with others
Pros for storing recipes physically:
There’s no need to have your phone or computer in your cooking space
As a result, you’ll avoid getting your devices messy as you cook
They’re easy to pull from a drawer or shelf when you’re ready to cook
The feel-good nostalgia of handwritten recipes and cookbooks
As you can see, there are benefits to both methods of organization. Once you’ve determined the right method for you, it’s time to categorize!
5.) Categorize your recipes
Now that you’ve chosen a method for storing your recipes, the next step is to brainstorm a structure for how you’ll be organizing your recipe collection. To do this, come up with a list of categories you can use to organize your recipes. Here are a few ideas for how you can categorize your recipes:
Meal type: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, appetizers, sides, snacks, drinks
Diet: low carb, keto, vegetarian, Whole 30, paleo
Cuisine: Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Greek
Main ingredients: chicken, beef, pasta, fish
Cooking method: InstantPot, air fryer, slow cooker, casseroles, sheet pan, grill
Season or holidays: Thanksgiving, summer bbq, fall soups, cozy winter recipes
Time to prepare or difficulty: 30-minute meals, 10 ingredients or less, one-pot meals
Mix and match these categories and choose the ones that fit your needs. What works for someone else, might not work for you. You can always refine these categories as you go!
6.) Finally- determine the best system for you
Photo by Kim Pufahl for Outshine Co
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the last step! It’s time to put that prep work into action. Based on the organization method and categories you chose, the last thing you need to do is determine the organization system you’ll use—then put it all together!
The best ways to organize your physical recipes:
Recipe binder or filing system
Old school recipe box
The best ways to organize your digital recipes:
A Pintrest account
Boards by category
Links to your favorite recipes
Pintrest is best for recipe blogs, websites, publishers, and social media. It acts as a visual filing system for your recipe collection. You can create specific boards for your recipe categories and “pin” a recipe right to a board. Pinterest also makes it incredibly easy to search for recipes and share them with others. Not to mention, Pinterest is full of other recipes you can browse for inspiration. Be careful, though. It is easy to get lost down the Pinterest rabbit hole while searching for inspiration!
Digital Filing System
Recipe documents or scanned recipes
A digital filing system tool, like microsoft word or google docs
This system is best for recipes already stored as Word or Google documents, digital notes or photos, digitized or scanned physical recipes
Similar to a recipe binder or filing system, a digital recipe filing system allows you to “file” your recipes into digital folders. There are plenty of ways to create a digital recipe filing system, but two good options are Google Drive or a note-taking app like Evernote. You can use folders to store your recipes in different categories. This system also makes it easy to search for recipes by name since both of these tools allow you to search your digital files or notes.
Recipe saving app
Apps like Whisk, Paprika, BigOven and Yummly can help you to stay organized can offer suggestions and will allow you to interact with your recipes. All are free or low-cost, too! Regardless of which recipe organization system you choose, you’ll feel better knowing each recipe you love has its home. As you continue to discover and add new recipes to your collection, you’ll figure out which parts of your system work (and don’t work) and be able to further refine your system until it works just right for you. Good luck!