Monday

Organize Your Recipes and Cookbooks in Five Steps

Have your recipes and cookbooks gotten out of control? Do you have good intentions to get them organized but get overwhelmed when you think about it? Imagine if you could put your hands on the exact recipe you are looking for in seconds! To help you achieve that goal, I've laid out the 5 steps to get your recipes and cookbooks organized using my STUFF System(TM).
Sort
Gather all your cookbooks, loose recipes and cooking magazines. Next, start sorting into piles - cookbooks, cooking magazines and loose recipes. Then, sort your loose recipes into piles by the type of dish (desserts, poultry, fish, meat, vegetables, appetizers, etc). Look at a cookbook to get ideas of possible categories ideas.
Take Out
Go through each pile and decide what you will keep and what you will let go. If you are limited on space you'll have to be more selective. If you use just one or a few recipes from each cookbook, consider making a copy of those favorite ones and pass the cookbook on or donate the books to your library.
If you have a collection of cooking magazines taking up lots of space, tear out the recipes you use or would like to try. Recycle the rest of the magazine.
What about all those loose recipes that you've printed from the internet and clipped from magazines? Do you have more than you'll every try? Toss any incomplete or duplicate recipes.
Utilize Your Space and a System
Look at your available space. Where will your cookbooks and recipes live? In the kitchen? On a bookshelf? In a cupboard? In the pantry? Avoid storing them on your countertops.
~ Ideas for Your Loose Recipes ~
Create your own recipe binder to store your loose recipes. You just need a 3-ring binder, clear page protectors and divider tabs. Lay out your binder just like a cookbook. You've already sorted your recipes into piles - use those categories to label your divider tabs. Then slip the recipes into the clear page protectors. The page protectors also protect the recipes from spills and are easy to wipe clean. Perhaps you can have a section devoted to your family's favorites or a section of new recipes you want to try.
Another idea is to use a portable file box to store your loose recipes. Label each hanging file folder with the categories and slip the recipes behind the appropriate tab.
You may prefer transferring recipes to index cards to store in a recipe box or small plastic photo albums. Here is an example of how I use small plastic photo albums for my favorite recipes. I love using this system because they are always handy.
Fill Containers
Containers keep like items together. Your recipe binder is a container. A recipe box is a container. See how this step and the previous step can go together? Be sure to label your containers.
Follow-Up
Once you have your cookbooks and recipes organized, you'll want to stay on top of them to keep it that way. Be picky about what you keep. If you try a new recipe and it just doesn't work for you family, there's no need to hold onto it anymore.
Think before you print and clip! How easy would it be to get those recipes again when you are ready to make them? When you do come across a new recipe on the internet or in a magazine that you want to keep, put it in your binder and on your menu right away.
If you get a new cookbook, is there another one you can part with? Consider utilizing your local library when you're in the mood to try out a new cookbook.
Make it Happen!
Now that you have all the steps, pick a date to start working on your recipes and cookbook organizing project. Do one step at a time. Depending on how much you have, you may have to schedule multiple sessions.
*Holiday Tip*
If you will be hosting or attending Holiday gatherings this season, start making your menus now. If you come across a recipe you'd like to try, make a note of it and where it is located.
*Gift Idea*
Compile your and your families' favorite recipes, print them so they look nice and compile them into a small photo book. Present them as a gift by itself or in a kitchen theme basket. My Mom did this for my brother and me about 6 years ago. We both cherish that gift of her favorite recipes that she used to make. Every time I make something from that book I think of her and the memories.
About the author: Paula Constable, professional organizer and speaker, works with families who want to make their daily lives easier through organization. She is the owner of Stuff 2b Organized, LLC and she brings understanding, support and solutions to help calm the busy lives of the families she works with.

As The Organizing Expert for Moms, Paula provides her organizing services both in-home and virtually. She holds her tele-classes and Virtual Workshop, Paper Organization for Busy Moms, on a regular basis.

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