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!