The Recipe for an Organized Life

I just so happen to come from a family of extremely talented female cooks: my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my cousins, my sister. I’m not exaggerating when I say every woman in my family has been blessed with the Kitchen Gene… except me. To be fair, I’m not horrible in the kitchen (in fact, I’m pretty skilled when it comes to making scrambled eggs), but I definitely spend more time collecting recipes than I do testing them. I’m constantly bookmarking ideas or e-mailing them to myself—all tagged in Gmail with a “Recipes” label, of course. Then there’s my manila folder full of ideas: pages torn from Real Simple and Women’s Health mixed with handwritten recipes scribbled on scraps of paper, and, for good measure, a few childhood favorites Xeroxed from my mother’s cookbooks. The only problem? I love feeling organized, and I hate not having one consistent means by which to keep track of all my carefully collected recipes—you know, the ones I’ll probably never make.

Needless to say, I’ve given this recipe situation a lot of thought. Here are a few (hopefully helpful) suggestions for storing and keeping track of your favorites:

Create an online cookbook. Sure, the Internet is full of databases like AllRecipes.com and virtual cookbooks like MyCookbook.com, but I’d rather have more control over the layout. My solution is a blog called “The Blogged Cookbook” (creative, I know)—a password-protected collection of recipes. The best part? My mom and sister have the log-in information so the three of us can share family recipes and build a comprehensive database of all our favorites. We tag each dish with keywords ranging from “cold weather” and “baked goods” to “healthy” and “side dishes”. The best part? Your recipes are accessible wherever you go.

Save your recipes in a Word document. One of my coworkers saves all his recipes in one document so he doesn’t have to store cookbooks in his apartment. I still prefer to save my recipes in a blog so I can access them remotely, but saving recipes in Word is a great way to eliminate clutter and save paper, especially if you use the “Notebook Layout” view and assign a different tab to each food category (Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Entrees, etc.)

Create a recipe binder. If you’re the hard-copy type, you can always buy a three-ring binder and some plastic sheet protectors with holes.  Whether your recipes are ripped out from magazines or typed neatly, storing them in see-through covers keeps them legible and clean, and you can always add and delete recipes as needed. Use dividers to create customized sections—it’s like your own personalized, constantly evolving cookbook.

Go the Martha Stewart route. What’s wrong with a good ol’ fashioned recipe box? Handwrite your recipe on an index card and file it. You can always re-purpose a shoebox (I’m personally not crafty enough for something like that), use a photo-storage box, or look for an actual recipe box. Store it in the kitchen for easy access.

Use Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. My new obsession. I just can’t get enough. If you’re already on Pinterest, you can probably relate. A virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share images you find online, Pinterest is both useful and addictive. You can browse other people’s boards and then re-pin images you like (make sure to cite your sources and link back properly!) You can also install the “Pin It” button on your toolbar—just click it whenever you come across a delicious-looking recipe that you’d like to save for future reference. The end result? A visually stunning collection of images that would have otherwise wound up in some never-visited Bookmarks folder.

How about you? How do you store your recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas! Happy cooking!

Post authored by Lia Zneimer

Originally from Colorado, Lia is a Junior Publicist at Scholastic with a love of all things organized, color-coded, and grammatically correct. When she’s not drooling over sites like Praxis and Real Simple, Lia can be found working on her own blog, Simplicity. You can follow her on Twitter @liazneimer. (And be sure to check out Scholastic’s official blog, OOM.)

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