Recipe Organization

Several ideas from several people

Here is an idea that I use for menu planning and shopping:  Index cards.  I write the complete menu on the front, and all the ingredients I need for the main dish on the back.  I include a reference for finding the recipe in my books if I need it, but I started the system with dishes for which I don’t need a recipe (family favorites).  I have the cards color coded for beef, chicken, pork, etc. but this isn’t absolutely necessary.

According to the specials at the grocery store at the time, I pull out as many cards as I want to shop for (a week, two weeks, whatever).  I mark my master grocery list from the backs of the cards, and I add the side dishes from the fronts.  The master grocery list was created while I was making the cards, listing everything I need.  I use a highlighter to mark the list for shopping, adding “tally” marks for how many of meals of, say, ground beef, I need.

I keep the current cards in a “deck”, so I know at any time what choices I have.  Just thought I’d share...this system has been working great for me.

A newly-wed friend of mine was admiring my cards, saying, wow, someday I’ll be that organized, so I made a card for her to start with....the front says “frozen dinners” and the back says “frozen dinners”.  She got a good laugh from it!

 3-Ring Notebook

 I bought a 3 ring notebook and some plastic sheet covers. I sorted through all my recipes and magazines and ripped the pages out I wanted to keep and tossed the rest. Any recipes I knew I’d never use I also tossed. I then slipped them into the sleeves. You can put two recipes in each sleeve back to back.

Some small recipes I retyped on my computer using pretty pink and yellow paper and slipped those into the sleeves.  Then I sorted the cards by desserts, main dishes, appetizers, etc., and put them into the 3 ring binder. You could even buy little tabs to help out with finding them although I didn’t get that far!  Tami

Create a Simple Database

This really only works with a computer, but I have found it really does help.  When you come across a recipe that you like, think you will like, make every year at a particular season, etc., list it in a data base. Do it in Word or WordPerfect or even Excel. Set up a table with the following columns - name, location, page #, info/type. If you do it in a table, it can be sorted by recipe, location, or type. I know this takes a while in the beginning and IT IS A PAIN, but once you have it set up, you will love it because you can always find where a particular recipe is, be it a magazine, cookbook, recipe box or on your computer. I usually sort by either recipe or info/type because frequently I am looking for Holiday recipes or a particular type of recipe. You can add more columns if you need to, but I find these adequate for my use. I collect cookbooks and have been know to have to sort through 87 cookbooks looking for the particular Pasta Primavera that my family likes (I write in my cookbooks so I know).  Mary deJ

A Software Solution

My husband just gave me a wonderful Christmas gift ... It’s a software package from Current and DVO called Cook’n 99. It has recipes from over 60 cookbooks, it can help in planning menus a week at a time and will even print out a shopping list with (estimated) prices. Also, you can add your favorite recipes and create your own cookbook! (No more loose recipes on 4x6 cards hanging around!) The software can also adjust recipes depending on the number of servings you need. Additionally, you can download updates from the internet.

The cost of the package was around $30.00 (purchased at Best Buy). The company also has a referral can send in the names and addresses of your friends and family and the company will send them brochures - for each person that buys the software, you get $10! I’ve only had it a few days, but I love it already and highly recommend it!  Karla

Try MasterCook

I love to be able to plan menus around the grocery specials too! What helped me was getting MasterCook software. Not only does it have a bunch of recipes with it, but allows you to create your own cookbook.  As I find and try a recipe we like, I enter it into my own cookbook in that software. Then, when the specials come out in the paper, the program allows you to do a search for recipes by ingredient. It’ll even create a shopping list of all the ingredients needed for each recipe. What a time saver!  Donna P.

Editor’s note: of the responses that mentioned software programs, Mastercook was mentioned far more often than other programs.

Notebook With References

Here’s how I solved my “scattered recipes” dilemma. I got 3-ring binder style photo album with magnetic pages and a set of dividers. I labeled the sections with headings like chicken, beef, pork, veggies, salads, appetizers, etc. Then I placed the collected recipes in the appropriate categories. I included recipes I had clipped from magazines and newspapers, those written on recipe cards, and recipes written on scraps of paper.

If you have a lot of favorite recipes in cookbooks, you might consider adding a page at the front of each section with a list of the names of recipes followed by the name of the cookbook it’s in and the page number. That way you have just one source to consult when you do your menu planning, and you’ll know exactly where to look for recipes that are written out in your other cookbooks.

I organize all my recipes into categories. For example, All my chicken recipes go under a category of “Poultry”. I also have categories of vegetables, meats, pork, soups, salads, pasta, desserts, etc. When you make your menu for the week, you pick out 7 entree recipes, 7 vegetable recipes, 7 starch recipes, etc., and put them in an envelope marked “Recipes for the Week” This also makes it easier to do weekly shopping. It will be less likely that you will forget something. Elizabeth G.

The “Ringer”

I too have recipes on cards, in notebooks, cookbooks etc. I actually lost a couple of recipes because they were just on a little card. So I purchased the larger index cards and wrote my most used recipes on them. I took a hole punch and punched a hole in the upper left hand corner of the card (about ½ inch from the top and from the side of the card). I took a key ring type loop and hooked them together. I ended up with two rings of cards. One has main dishes and the other has everything else. This way I have the recipes in two places and hopefully I’ll never loose one again.  Rebecca C. 

Two Photo Albums

I save all my “loose” recipes (cut from magazines and such) in a photo album that has those sticky pages covered by a sheet of plastic. It works great. I can make whole sections like “Main Dishes”, “Desserts”, etc. I can add more pages, move pages around, add recipes, toss recipes, etc.  I use one book for recipes and another book for weekly planner. I can take just the recipes I want to cook and insert them in the weekly planner book then put them back into the recipe book at the end of the week. I can also put loose leaf notebook paper in the weekly planner for grocery lists and tear them out after I go to the store.