get your recipes organized

Get Clutter Free in 30-Days
With these easy Quick Tip solutions to simplify your life and organize your home, you'll see less clutter each and every day. We are done (this is Day Thirty) but if you didn’t join us in the month long challenge, don’t worry… the wonderful thing about this challenge is that it’s a ‘personal’ challenge. You are competing with only yourself and you can go at your own pace. The idea is to learn new skills or improve old ones to help you get in the habit of staying clutter free on a regular basis – that way things don’t get overwhelming and out of hand! It's NEVER to late to get started, check out the whole series on the ‘Get Clutter-Free’ page.

Day Thirty: Get Your Recipes Organized
Do you love to cook? Do you LOVE a great recipe? But do you have recipes scattered everywhere… in purchased cookbooks, in hand-me-down cookbooks, in index files, in three ring notebooks, in files on the computer... It can be maddening to try to locate a treasured recipe when you are getting ready to prepare a meal… and you just don’t know where to find that great beloved {fill-in the blank} recipe of Aunt So-n-So’s. I have to let you in on a little secret, about 10 years ago I entered all my favorite recipes on a Word Template that I created on my computer. Now all of them are filed away on my hard drive (and on a USB drive – I learned my lesson the hard way on this one). Each time I run across a new recipe that is a WINNER, I just fill-in the template with the title, category, origination, ingredients, directions, a great finished dish photo and “ta-da” – I know where to find it the next time I want to prepare it! I divided my computer cookbook into category sections that most of my recipes tend to fall into: Appetizer, Dips, & Beverages; Soup, Salad, & Relishes; Entrees & Sides; Sweets; and Misc. (You can decide what categories your recipes easily fall in).

So for this last challenge… I got to thinking about what would happen if you were to start organizing recipes and I came up with some ways to streamline the hunt for that beloved recipe you know you have somewhere.

Problem: Finding a Recipe
recipe book
Solution: Mark the page. The next time you're browsing and see a recipe that makes your mouth water, slip on a Book Dart ($10 for 100). Made of paper-thin metal, it does the job attractively and won't fall off, wrinkle the page, or leave a mark. Book Darts come in bronze, silver, and brass, so you can color-code to distinguish recipes you have tried from those you haven't, or entrées from appetizers. Or place markers for favorites at the top of the page and mark others on the side.
index card box
Solution: Make an index. On an index card, write the recipe title (or a name you're more likely to remember), the book or magazine issue it's in, and the page number. File the cards alphabetically in a recipe box, dividing it into sections like Appetizer, Dips, Beverages; Soup, Salad, Relishes; Entrees & Sides; Sweets; Misc.

Problem: Locating a Cookbook
cookbook shelf
Solution: Make a kitchen book nook. Nothing personalizes a kitchen like a row of cookbooks arrayed on a shelf or in a hutch. Keep a chair or a stool nearby so you have a place to sit and peruse. Avoid placing books on open shelves where they’re exposed to humidity and grease, namely over or next to the stove or over the refrigerator. Use bookends to keep books from slumping and bindings from breaking.

Problem: Cataloguing Cookbooks  
row of books
Solution: Organize books to match your style. Your system should reflect your tastes. It may make sense to alphabetize one section by author, create another section for themes (barbecue, dessert), and a third section by geography. If you are big on world cuisines start with those from your region, then move along the shelf in a logical direction from California to New York, down to South America, across to Europe, then to Africa, and so on. Another shelf could follow a trail from the beginning of the day (breakfast), then to middle of day (lunch - sandwiches, snacks) and on to end of day (appetizers and main events). Whatever works best for you.

Problem: Keeping Track of Clipped Recipes
clipped recipes
Solution: Create a filing system. Sort recipes in labeled folders and keep them in a file drawer or in an open-sided magazine storage box on the bookshelf. If you prefer, set up a three-ring binder with tab dividers and plastic page protectors for both full sheets (for pages from a magazine) and divided sheets (for three-by-five-inch recipe cards). Start simply, with just a few sections (Special Occasions, Favorites, and Recipes to Try). Because Recipes to Try can easily turn into Recipes Clipped for Some Unknown Reason, keep this section from getting out of hand by adapting the rule of wardrobe control: Every time you add a recipe, eliminate one you have yet to try.
cookbook 1
Solution: Buy a ready-made system. Two binders with lots of organizing tools are the C.R. Gibson Bon Appétit Deluxe Kitchen Binder ($35) and the Gallery Leather Recipe Organizer ($32).

Problem: Parting With Cookbooks
recipes on computerSolution: Keep recipes; toss books. The computer is a cookbook hoarder’s best friend. No matter how much you love a book, you probably use only a handful of its recipes, so why not scan the ones you love and file them electronically? (Or photocopy them and file in a binder.) Give the books to a food-loving friend, or donate them to a thrift shop or your local library.
just a pinch recipe club
Solution: Make an online cookbook. Use the Internet to find as well as store recipes. For instance, I have heard wonderful things about a recipe site called Just a Pinch. I also enjoy perusing Foodnetwork.com and Bonappetit.com for delicious recipes. When you find a recipe you like, print it out; if the dish was a hit, keep the recipe in a binder. You might also investigate recipe-keeping software that offers additional features.
bigoven Solution: Download a Recipe Software Program. Why give cookbooks a lot of space in your house when you have so much more room on your hard drive? That’s the reasoning behind downloadable software such as Cook’n ($80) and BigOven (Free). Like free websites with online cookbooks, both come with plenty of recipes and let you paste in your own from other sites. In addition to sorting recipes, these programs do other tricks: adjusting for different numbers of servings; offering nutritional information; creating menu plans; and, in the case of Cook’n, generating shopping lists organized by aisle. help via

Your Assignment for Day Thirty:
This is our last day on The 30 Day Challenge to Get Clutter Free. Did you enjoy it?
Would you like to see more Challenges? … if so, let me know on what topic?

I thought for our last challenge… I would offer you a treat to add to your organized recipes! This is so easy (basically, the only kind of recipes I make as you are probably starting to figure out) and this is very hearty and yummy.

  • 1 lb dry navy beans (soak overnight)
  • 2 qts water
  • 1 lb meaty ham bone or pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 whole peppercorns or ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ C chopped celery leaves
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp thyme
Place all ingredients (except beans) in Dutch oven and bring to boil.  Simmer until vegetables are tender (20 minutes). Add beans, cover and cook on low for 1 hour. Add water as needed to keep ingredients covered.