Recipe Binder Revisited

A couple of years ago, I condensed my massive stack of cookbooks and multiple recipe boxes into a streamlined recipe binder. I’m happy to say I haven’t missed the old system at all and I enjoy having only the recipes I love on hand in one place. I think the worn tabs give a good idea of just how much use this bad boy gets. (Even if only I know it, that blue label denotes the “soup/salad” recipes!)

This week, I received an email from a reader, Karen, who referenced the recipe binder and had some great questions:

“I am going to try your recipe binder idea and wondered if you had any great tips or things that didn’t work out for you with it, now that you are a couple of years into it.  I can’t wait to get rid of my recipe books that I only use a recipe or two out of.  It seems like if we want a new recipe for something, we just go online, so they really are wasted space.”

I thought her idea to revisit this binder was a great one, and I definitely have changed how I use it since I first started it, especially with the addition of Pinterest in my life – (I’m constantly pinning recipes!). Plus, I’ve made some changes to it since I first put it together in 2009.

To recap, I originally filled a 3-inch binder with a bunch of 8-1/2 x 11-inch page protectors to hold both recipes I printed out in full page format from the internet, as well as recipe pages I ripped out of cooking magazines.

I also bought several 4×6-inch divided pages to hold existing recipe cards. Since I initially added my existing recipe cards, I have gotten away from using cards at all, so I never needed any more of those pages than what I originally bought. I have added many, many more full-page protectors to accomodate the recipes I print off of blogs, Pinterest, and tear from magazines. In fact, I added so many pages that I ended up getting a separate, thinner binder solely for dessert recipes.

I am a lover of sweets, so this second binder has filled up quickly. It’s to the point now where I would like to add some categories to my desserts (cake, cupcakes, pudding and mousse, pies, etc.) and use tabs to get this sweet tooth binder a bit more under control.

So here is how I use this binder, and in general gather and organize my recipes, today…

In addition to blogs and cooking magazines, I do find many of my recipes on Pinterest. I have three boards to which I save things that look yummy – “Culinary Creations” (appetizer and main course dishes that are a bit more indulgent), “Healthy Eating” (slimmed down health-conscious ideas for everyday), and “Sweet Eats” (dessert, obviously!). I suppose I have a fourth board, “Booze” for all things cocktail. 🙂

I reference my Pinterest boards a lot and often read recipes right off the site on my iPhone while I make them for the first time. But once I’ve made something and know I like it enough to make it again, I print it out and add it to my binder. In theory, I try to delete the tried recipe from my Pinterest board, so that they only have “to-try” recipes on them….but I’m not as great at keeping up with that part of the process!

As for new recipes that come from places other than Pinterest, the cardinal rule of the binder is that only stuff we’ve tried and loved gets filed behind each tab. If I’ve torn out or printed off something I want to try, I don’t add it to its category right away. Instead, I slip it into the folder in the front of its respective tab. (I know it’s hard to see in the photo above, but each clear divider page has a pocket in the front of it.) This way, I can try the recipe at my leisure and toss it if it’s only okay, or move it to a page protector in the binder if we squeal with glee upon tasting it and can’t wait to make it again!

It’s different for every household, but this is the system that works for me. Happy recipe organizing!

Linking up today with Not Just A Housewife!


Comments (17)

  • I smiled when I read that you too use your iPhone in the kitchen to view recipes from Pinterest…. Pretty handy, isn’t?! I also use my iPhone to look up ingredients for a recipe on a spur of the moment grocery trip! So it may not be so bad that you haven’t kept up with deleting recipe pins.
    The binder to compile recipes is a lovely idea because it can be customized to meets one’s needs.
    Loving your enthusiasm for life which comes through in bright colors this blog! And I follow you on Pinterest too, of course! 😀

  • I made a binder like this a couple of years ago, but I have to clean it out because we have adopted a plant-based diet. I have stacks of plant strong recipes that need a home. I like your idea of only adding recipes you have tried and love. I think that will help as I reorganize my old binder.

  • Thanks for the update! I also think I will need a separate binder for desserts. That is by far the largest section of my recipe box. I agree with Cristina as using Pinterest on my iPhone as a reference when you are at the store and want to look up a recipe’s ingredients. Maybe a new board for tried-and-true recipes. Then you can still differentiate those that you have tried and those that are for someday. Also, not deleting recipes from Pinterest is nice for those of us that follow you and want to see those recipes that you have actually tried and enjoyed. The first recipe I tried from Pinterest was a huge failure, so I’m a bit leery of trying things unless someone that I *know* (relative term, I know – ha!) has made it successfully. Now I just have to get some time to spread out my books and recipes and get to work on this.

    • That’s a good point, Karen! Maybe I’ll make a board of “Tried this…and loved it!” recipes!

      • I created a separate board on Pinterest for my recipe “successes”. I just pin the recipe to that board, too, so that I know which ones our family used/liked. I include any changes I made to the recipe in my comments.

  • …and there is my picture. YIKES!

  • I love your Pinterest idea about deleting the ones you’ve tried! If I were to do it (and I just might!) I would have the different food categories and then instead of deleting them I would move them to a board called “Tried it!” or something like that. I have a board that I pin everything to that I have actually done so I can keep track of it all. Just a thought! 🙂 Thanks for the great advice!

  • How did you / where did you find section dividers (tab dividers) that are big enough to show outside of the sheet protectors? I use a similar system but finding the tab dividers behind the pages is a pain! I love how yours looks!!

    • Hi Cherie,

      I bought all of my supplies at Office Max – and the tabs are actually separate from the divider pages – they are made by Post-It and they’re super-sticky. I just stuck them on to the edge of the dividers!

      • Yay OfficeMax 🙂 I work there! Yeah, we sell all sorts of dividers, have an entire aisle devoted to them. Another aisle for Post-It notes too. One thing I personally like is the smaller binders, they’re 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches and if you print two recipes to a page and cut them in half, then you can have a handy small recipe book to take with you on the go (to the grocery so you can see what’s on sale and what recipes can use those items).

  • I’d love to give this binder idea a try. My old box is just too full and not organized. I need to throw away those recipes that were not a hit. I’d love to see what tab names you used. No use in recreating the wheel! Thanks for all the wonderful info you share!

  • It’s so werid, I could have totally written this exact post, because I did the same thing with the binder, starting with one, and now I have 6. HAHAH.

  • Found your site through Pinterest today and have really enjoyed browsing and pinning, looking forward to following you in the future!

    • Thanks,Carrie! So glad you stopped by! 🙂

  • Love this! I started doing a somewhat similar version of a recipe book. I have a hardcover spiral notebook and I hand write recipes in there–family recipes, Pinterest recipes that I’ve tried and loved, and a few from cookbooks/magazines. I started it originally because of family recipes once I got married (ie: dad’s spaghetti sauce literally says “4 shakes of basil”, as I was notating while I watched him make it.. lol). I also use tabs to organize everything in the notebook. I really like your idea though, and I might have to re-do it and type out my recipes! What I would love to do is also take my own photos and add it to the recipes after they’ve gone through the “screening process”. You should see how obsessively I’ve organized my food boards.. I have Foodins (main dishes), Slow cookin’ fool, Small bites and side dishes, soups and breads, dips sauces and dressing, morning munchies, sweet tooth, and liquid libations. One of the things on my to-do list today is add a casseroles board and fix up my sweet tooth board to be a bit more separated (cakes, cookies, etc.). Ah Pinterest, what have you done to us?!

  • I also made a recipe binder several years ago to try to organize all those loose recipes, pretty much the same concept you have going. I love your tips, I think it’s time to revisit my recipe binder and reorganize. Love the method of only “tried and true” recipes entering because it seems that it can get out of hand.

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