• How I create and organize my binders
  • Organization on my recipes themselves
  • Resources I use for finding new recipes

When Bob and I were first married I had my recipe cards stuck in a little 4×6 recipe box.  This completely frustrated me as I could not see all of my choices before making a selection.  So, I designed a whole new system for myself!  *smile*  I’ve used it ever since.  Now I have easy visibility which enables quick decision making for meal planning, and quick access to every recipe and category.  I have places for small recipe cards and for my full-page recipes now which show doubled and tripled sizes of recipes for our family of 11.  And I even have places for my cooking tips in each category!  *beam!*  Here’s how I do it…

How I create and organize my binders

My recipe binders and books live on top of our refrigerator for now.

The first two binders contain all of my family’s main recipes in 16 tabbed categories; the third recipe binder contained my Trim Healthy Mama recipes while I was doing that, with all the same food categories.  *smile*  

Here’s how I organize my binders.  First, I chose three D-ring binders with the clear pocket front so that I could design themed covers for them with scrapbook supplies.  Next, I chose to use binder tabs that are the extra-wide size so that the tabs extend out past the edges of the photo sleeves where I can see them easily.  The tabs come with directions on how to create the tab labels in the computer, which I prefer, but they can also just be hand-written. I also purchased online some clear plastic 3×5 photo sleeves for all of my recipes on 3×5 cards.  I can see the front picture of the recipe, and the directions on the back by simply turning the page.  

Here is a list of the tabbed categories I use.

Binder #1 ~ Topics I draw from most every week:

  1. Chicken & Turkey
  2. Beef & Pork
  3. Fish
  4. Soup
  5. Pasta & Potatoes
  6. Crock Pot
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Salads
  9. Veggies
  10. Breads
Binder #2  ~ Topics I reference less often:

  1. Breads
  2. Breakfast
  3. Appetizers
  4. Desserts
  5. Cookies
  6. Cakes & Pies
  7. Beverages
I also purchased clear plastic 8×10 page protectors for four types of recipes in my binders:

(1) My full-page recipes that I mostly now use because they show doubled and tripled sizes of my recipes for our growing family.  I don’t like rethinking these quantity measurements each time I cook, and I don’t like wasting time, energy, and money by making avoidable mistakes because I can’t read my “chicken scratch” on my recipe cares.  *chuckle*  So I type it out once and save time, energy, and money through organization.

 (2) Most recipes I have a photo for because I got the recipe online, and which I like to see as aids in my meal planning efforts,

and (3) for recipes that show step-by-step directions that I need to see.  

I also have some 8×10 clear photo sleeves in the front of each binder for the few times when I’ve found a full page in the magazine that I’d like to keep for future reference, for a page like “Inexpensive Gifts You Can Make Yourself”.  I keep one photo page at the front of each food topic where I put little clipped out cooking tips appropriate for that topic that I read about in the magazine, too.

And (4) sometimes I’ve found magazine pages I’d like to keep with things like lists of cooking tips, or lists of inexpensive gifts to be made at home. 

Organization on my recipes themselves

I also organize the recipe card or page itself when I’m cooking.   I’m a highly visual person, and I don’t like to make mistakes that waste my time, energy, or finances… *chuckle*  So, I make marks on my recipe cards to help me see at-a-glance what needs to happen to prepare that dish.  

  • I highlight ingredients so that I can see quickly and easily what I need to shop for, and to help me avoid missing an item causing me to have to either make an additional trip to the store or not prepare the meal I planned for.  
  • I also highlight the amount of time it will take to cook so that I am able to have it on the table when I need to.  
  • The ingredients that will take time to prepare (things that need to be chopped, or browned) have an Astrix; this helps me plan for the amount of time it takes to prepare that dish. 
  • Ingredients that can go in to the pot as a group have [brackets] around them.  

I really like recipes to turn out just right and yummy every time; I do not like to improvise or “wing” anything – including my cooking.  *laugh*  Some people love this and are very successful at cooking this way – not me.  I prefer guaranteed success over creativity when it’s optional.  (click on the photo to enlarge)


Resources I use for finding new recipes 

I have four different resources that I frequent for finding a yummy new something!  My favorite way is to have recommendations that are tried and true, and even improved upon, from my mom or from friends.  But a close second is through a couple of online sources.  I’ve also enjoyed a certain recipe magazine for many years.  And I have just a few recipe books that have earned the right to remain in my tiny kitchen (because I’ve gleaned many recipes from them and they still have many more to harvest).

The online resources that have become my favorites are here:

The magazine I had a subscription to for many years is called, Taste of Home’sSimple & Delicious” magazine (used to be called “Quick Cooking”).  Not only are the recipes great and quick to make, but they all have photographs of each recipe with them!  Yay!  To this day I still cut out the several recipes I want to keep from an issue and glue them to 3×5 cards.  Some people have said that they keep all the issues of the magazine, but then to meal plan you have to spend more time than I have to select a recipe, and try to remember which ones you liked and any modifications you’ve made.  No thanks.  I like my binders with every recipe I’ve tried and will be making again for sure.

Gluing these pieces to a card with a glue stick takes less time than hand-copying recipes, plus I can keep the photograph of the dish with the recipe.  

So – no more little recipe card box for me; I love my binders that are full of our favorites.  No repeated searching, no mistakes in the recipe itself or with my timing; meal planning, preparation, and presentation can be pleasant and relaxed and time-efficient.  *smile*

I would really love to know if you have any additional recipe organizational tips or websites to share with us all, or questions you have, or comments!  Happy cooking!
Blessings on your efforts,