My Recipe Problem

Since you’re reading a food blog, I can only assume that you like to cook.
How do know how to make whatever it is you’re making? Do you have a recipe?
Do you even need a recipe? I know there are lots of people who don’t.
When I watch those cooking shows, like Chopped or Top Chef, I’m always amazed at how much they can do without a recipe. Especially the baking, where ingredients have to be exact. I suppose that comes from years of practice, experience and a certain confidence in your abilities.

I don’t have that so I need recipes. Lots of them.

I am constantly collecting recipes. A lot of them come from other food blogs, such as Joy the Baker, Brown Eyed Baker, Sass & Veracity and many of the other hundreds thousands of excellent food blogs available at the touch of a key. I fear forgetting about a recipe that I might want to cook soon, so I hit “Print” and now I have a hard copy.

If I’m looking for something for a specific event or meal, I’m likely to start with Epicurious and Food Network, where there are thousands a gazillion recipes. When I go on these sites, I tend to get sidetracked by that “You Might Also Like…” feature. That leads me to another recipe I don’t want to forget about, so luckily there’s that “Print” icon again.

Now let’s talk about all those food magazines. Addicted. I love the glossy pages that are so easy to rip out and save because I definitely WANT TO MAKE THIS SOON.  I’ll just put those torn out pages in this little pile where I know I can find it. Oh, next month’s issue is already here and I haven’t made anything from last month yet? That’s ok, I know the recipes is right here when I need it!

Newspapers? Yes, I still read them the old-fashioned way. That Wednesday food section is just full of excellent recipes! Can you hand me the scissors so I can just cut out this one. And one other. I’ll probably try it this weekend.

Recipe overload. That’s what I have. It must be managed. Oh how I have tried to manage. Many years ago (pre-internet) there was the recipe box, where the recipes one collected were then handwritten onto little cards. How quaint and wonderful for a woman with so much time on her hands and lovely script. Thinking about passing this precious box on to one’s child made it oh-so-worthwhile.
But the recipe collection begins to outgrow that box and the care of children leaves one no time to lovingly copy those recipes onto the sweet little cards.
Notebooks are called for, with dividers and plastic page protectors. Yes! Three ring notebooks!

The binders grew and grew. After awhile one binder for desserts wasn’t enough (clearly a sign of my priorities) so there had to be two – one just for cakes!
And the recipes grew too and were not able to find their way into the correct binders in a timely fashion. So file folders were needed as back up! Yes, file folders – who couldn’t be organized with these special file folders? When one found herself with time on her hands on a rainy Sunday, surely one would use that time to move the recipes from the file folders into the binders.

Or would she?
Sigh. Soon the recipes began to make piles of their own, not even bothering to get into their designated folders. Then the recipe piles start to take over one’s office and one’s husband begins to complain that there’s no cleared surface on which to sit.
There’s no waiting for that rainy day now. Time for some action, some order! A new year’s resolution to keep that order.

Sort the recipes. Get them in the correct folder. Now put those folders somewhere that is not a chair or sofa. A standing file rack? Sounds good to me. Promise to put any newly printed recipe in its rightful folder immediately.

I’m sure I’ll use them all one day. Soon. Really I will.
Or maybe I should learn to trust myself to cook (but not bake) without recipes.

How do you keep your recipes organized? I am open to any suggestions!

Print Friendly


  1. I have the same problem. Scores of paper recipes everywhere! I got a portable scanner for Xmas, and my plan is to scan them all into my computer and organize them by folder. I can even scan my favorite pages out of cookbooks. I’m sure it will take me a while, but I’ll let you know how it works out.

  2. don’t print, pin! then your hard copies recipes will be reduced to tear outs from magazines (or saving entire magazines like me, ruh-roh).

  3. girl, its like watching years of my life tick by! but i have SOLVED MY WOES! about 4 years ago i decided to make my own cookbooks, with all my own food styling for a year, did you miss that phase? the one where you put the food on the plate, place in the sun and no one can eat until you are happy with your pretty art shots?

    anyway, i started to have loads of pics of food in my computer, besides the 6 binders full of my printed artsy recipes, and a 10′ high stack of recipes from others to try… but that too became way to cumbersome to keep doing, so i ended up cutting out the word print from my life entirely…

    the first year i took pics of every recipe i liked and filled them into folders on my computer, worked like a dream, but i was still saving tons of pics from the net… last year for the first time ever i used word document. i steal my pics and recipes right from the net and file them away, never ever to be lost again and a simple click to a perfectly labeled folder and recipe.

    i have solved all my woes now. i take pics of books i am reading and file away, i print nothing, copy and paste everything. i cook with the laptop open. paper free. i must still have a gazillon recipes, but they are all so easy to find from brunch ideas to pies, veggies to hot or cold appetizers, i have finally sorted my life into one giant fat girls dream :-)

    the best part is i can still add my artsy pics to recipes any time i want, everything is easy peasy for me these days, no more endless paper shuffle.

    good luck!

    • Jain, I like your organization! This does sound like a good idea. I love “cutting out the word print form my life entirely”. Think of all the trees we could save. Many thanks for your input!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I’m with you on this. Endless paper, cut from magazines, printed from or some other internet site and culled from newspapers as well. I have a hanging window box in the kitchen that holds most of them, I too once thought of the box with file cards like my mom had, but realized that wasn’t going to happen. The notebook binders photo albums was also a thought, a rainy day art project but it doesn’t really rain here. SO now i have piles of recipes in no order stuffed into a wooden box and a RECIPES File on my desktop that holds most of my favorites. I try not to print anymore, just take the online stuff and add it to my file, however, the foodie mags still provide me with paper copies. Someday they’ll all come together.

  6. Usually I cook out of my head. However baking requires a recipe – either my own or another’s. Some of those I have memorized, however I do keep a single file – one cabinet drawer of my go-to recipes. If I am looking for something new I tend to bookmark a site I like on my computer.
    I do love to look at food magazines though. Food porn!

  7. I have all the printouts in one file folder. Not really efficient, or so it sounds. Once I’ve made the recipe a few times, I then enter it into a moleskin book I purchased in the Old Port in Portland, Papier. Like the dating scene in our youth, so many recipes look so worth the effort. Only after I’ve tested them out do they make the cut…and become cookbook worthy.

    • “Like the dating scene in our youth, so many recipes look so worth the effort. Only after I’ve tested them out do they make the cut..”

      Ha! That’s hilarious. Perhaps that’s where my problem started. Thanks Janet!

Please leave a comment