Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Organization: Recipe Binder

For far too long my recipe binder was nothing more than a huge stack of recipes in no particular order. This made it not only incredibly time consuming to find a recipe I was looking for, but the lack of organization also made it impossible to remember all the recipes I had. Meal planning was much more challenging as well. I should also mention I have a LOT of recipes, many tried and loved, and many that I want to try, but haven't yet.

It had been on my "to-do" list for at least a year to re-organize this mess. One thing about me (and it's not something I love) - I sometimes can get really caught up in over-thinking - trying to figure out exactly the perfect system, and instead, nothing ends up getting done. I have to very consciously make sure I don't get too stuck in that over-thinking process and just DO things sometimes, whether or not it is the perfect system. (Because an imperfect system is better than no system at all, right? This is what I tell myself!)

So I decided enough was enough and began tackling this project. It was an excellent decision.

1. First I decided I wanted a large 3 ring binder. I think it is a 3 inch - it was pretty much the biggest one they had. I picked lime green.
2. I picked a binder with the clear front covers because I knew I wanted to create a personalized cover and spine.
3. I created the cover and spine...didn't take me very long at all - I just used Publisher, nothing fancy here.
4. I figured out what sections I wanted  - again, I had to stop myself from over-thinking these and just decide :) My sections: Appetizers, Main Dishes, Crockpot, Sides/Salads, Snacks/Kid Food, Breakfast, Dessert/Drinks, and Miscellaneous (things like sweet and sour sauce, homemade pizza sauce, and jam recipes ended up here). I also purchased colored dividers with pockets on the front so that I could put recipes to try in the pocket for each section.

5. I went through my huge stack of recipes and threw out any that didn't sound great to me, or that I had tried and didn't love. Then I made two stacks for each of my sections: recipes tried to file, and recipes to try.
6. Only recipes I have tried and love make it into the clear plastic sleeves in the section. The recipes to try go in the divider pocket for that section as mentioned above.

7. in the back inside pocket of the binder I put some printouts I had for popular recipe substitutes, measurement equivalents, and other useful cooking related info I wanted to keep.
8. In the front inside pocket, I placed recipes I plan to try very soon and want up front for me to remember to add to my meal plan.

I had visions of designing pretty labels for the tabs, but it came down to completing the project or that whole over-thinking thing again, and I decided that for now, my handwriting would work just fine. This may not be my end all system, and I may re-tweak it over time, but for now it is light years better than what I had been dealing with and I love having everything organized and easy to locate.

What system do you use to organize your recipes? I'd love to hear about them!


  1. We are two peas in a pod when it comes to the over planning, over thinking and not getting it done overly fast because of it!! I put my recipes in a binder recently, but didn't think to use the tabbed separators with pockets - liking that idea. I also just hole punched the papers, but the page protectors make much more sense. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The sheet protectors are amazing for wiping up any splatters and spills, and just make it look and stay nicer too. I love the tabbed separators too - and having the pockets on them is really nice! Thanks for your comment :)

  2. I got the recipes in a three ring binder and that's where it stopped :) I definetly need to put this on my to do list!! Thanks for linking up at Homemade By You!!

    1. That is how mine were for a few years - they weren't even in the rings of the binder though, just stacked in a big mess and then slipped in the binder. This system works MUCH better for me :)

  3. Love your blog name!

    Wonderful job organizing your recipes! This is an item that has been on my to-do list far too long as well. Might just have to get on that! ;)

    Thanks for stopping by Domestic Bliss Diaries - http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com

  4. For far too long my recipe binder was nothing more than a huge stack of recipes in no particular ... binders3ringforgirls.blogspot.com