Organizing Your Recipes…

Anyone who knows me, knows I love binders.  I love to store all kinds of information in binders: holiday binder, decorating ideas binder, plants & garden binder, workout binder, and RECIPE binder! 🙂

I subscribe to roughly 6 monthly magazines (Southern Living, BH&G, Self, etc).  I love to tear ideas and recipes out of the magazines and then recycle them when Im done.  (No piles of year-old magazines sitting around my house!) But what to do with all the pages once they are torn out?  Here is my (refined) system:

1.  Tear out any recipe that you might like to try from the newspaper or a magazine, or print one online.

2.  Three hole punch the paper and place in your recipe binder

3.  Any new recipes that you have not tried and tested go in front of each section.  Recipes that you constantly use go in the back of each section in sheet protectors.

— This helps you keep track of what you have tried and like

4.  Once you have tried a new recipe

A. Throw it away if it tastes awful

B. Cut out the recipe and tape to a white piece of paper.  Place the paper in a sheet protector

How to Make a Recipe Binder:

1.  Buy a 3 ring binder (1″ or 1.5″ is best) — I like white binders with clear pockets in the front

2.  (optional) Create a cover sheet for the binder on your computer (slide in pocket on front of binder)

3.  Create different sections within the binder with tab dividers.  Ideas of sections: Seafood, Chicken & Beef, Side Dishes, Desserts (always the largest section for me), drinks, breakfast, etc

4.  Start adding to your binder!  

Ive seen some interesting ways of ‘storing’ recipes — Ive even seen a recipe drawer that I immediately labeled ‘A Hot Mess’.  The binder is a great way to keep track of recipes that you love and recipes that you might want to try.  The key — throw away a recipe if you hated the way it turned out OR store it in the binder in a sheet protector.  Make a decision right away when you try a new recipe — it will help keep the madness at bay.

Another idea – vow to try at least 2 new recipes a week.  Your family will thank you for mixing it up.

The reason I recommend cutting the recipe out and taping to a white piece of paper is to cut down on visual clutter.  Most recipes from magazines are on the same page as pictures, other recipes, and ads.  I dont need to check all that out when Im searching for a recipe.  Cut out the recipe — trash the rest!  I take it a step further and organize the recipes that I plan to keep by style.  Example:  all apple pie recipes are taped to the same page (multiple pages for me because I love to bake).  When I want to make an apple pie, I flip to the dessert section and then to the apple pie section.  Now the decision can easily be made! That might be a little over the top for some…

The binder is very helpful when it comes to planning your weekly meals and making your grocery list.  (Tips on this next week)!

Organizing for the holidays with “The Holiday Binder”…

Fall is my favorite season…what is not to love about cool, crisp nights, apple picking, county fairs, hay rides, the list could go on and on.  Back-to-school marks the  change of seasons for me and I’m sure everyone else.  It should have its own New Year celebration.  Once school starts and all of the notebooks, glue sticks, and pencils are cleared off retailers shelves…in comes the Halloween decorations!  Does anything about that stress you out?  Well it used to stress me out to no end…Halloween is just around the corner, then Thanksgiving, then “Hello” Christmas!  I always had so many ideas and plans for such a short amount of time…how can I do it all, and decorate for each holiday, and see my whole family, and party with my friends…it was overwhelming!  Then I came up with “The Holiday Binder”.  The binder was nicknamed “The dork book” by my friends.  I understand my need to have everything planned and organized to a “T” is unnatural for others, but it makes me sleep better at night! 

So on to “The Holiday Binder”…The thought behind it was to keep track of everything holiday related.  There are five sections for Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve.  Within each section are subsections for:

  • Recipes for Holiday Goodies
  • Indoor Holiday Decoration Ideas
  • Outdoor Holiday Decoration Ideas
  • Costume Ideas (Halloween)
  • Present Ideas & Budget Forms (Christmas)
  • Activities to celebrate the season
  • How to Host Great Holiday Parties (general for any holiday party)

The holiday section is separated from the other by a heading sheet I created in Microsoft Word (clip art & word art was my friend).  The subsections are separated and labeled with index dividers.  Where did I get the stuff to put in the binder? Mainly from my favorite magazines, but also from articles I read online or ideas from websites like Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, and Better Homes & Garden. 

Here’s what you do:  tear out pages of the magazine, cut out the portion that you want to keep (might be the whole page), tape to a white piece of paper (or colored for the holiday if you want to go crazy), and categorize accordingly.  I also put everything in sheet protectors – it makes everything visually appealing, nice to touch (I love the slick surface), and easy to clean (I tend to drop food on my recipes when cooking).

I have added to the binder every year and I look forward to getting it out every September.  I’ve been known to fantasize about the holiday binder well into July!  It’s amazing how much I look forward to the holiday season rather than stress over it and all thanks to a simple binder that took a little love and effort to create! 

Id love to hear from you – have you put one together – how does it help you and your family get through the holiday madness?  Send me an email with your holiday organizing questions!

*This is a recap of my organizing article printed in Sophies Womens Magazine-Oct Issue*