Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ask the Internet: How Do You Organize Your Recipes?

Sweet Angela, Bea, and Rosalind, readers! Ask and ye shall receive. Last week, I threw myself at your feet and you lifted me up with more slow cooker tips and recipes than I can use in this lifetime. I am heartily grateful.

This week’s multi-part question is born out two-parts need for decluttering solutions and one-part sheer curiosity:

Q: Readers, I gotta know, 1) how do you keep track of your recipes and 2) what’s your favorite method for reading a recipe while cooking? Dog-earred cookbooks? An index card file? Are you going digital? 3)What are your favorite recipe organization tools/applications?

A: My 1-ft by 1-ft countertop makes using cookbooks cramped and messy. Recently, I used Charming Boyfriend’s smartphone to pull up a recipe while at the farmer’s market and then in the kitchen while preparing the dish. (See last week’s Top-Crust Peach and Cardamom Pie on Serious Eats.) More and more, I find myself replacing my tried-and-true (and recklessly scattered) index cards, which I magnetize to the fridge, with my laptop, which I set it on top of the fridge and use as a recipeasel (though I fear one day it may meet a fiery end).

What about you, beloved readers? Do you still prop up the cookbook on the counter with a canister of flour and a wooden spoon or is the iPad-integrated kitchen on your wishlist? The comments are ready to accept your wisdom.

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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49 comments:

SGal16 said...

Google Docs -- you can share recipes with others too

Laura said...

I store all my recipes digitally - it makes it very easy to search for exactly what I want to make that night. Then, when I'm ready to cook, I bring my netbook into the kitchen and put it in a safe spot (away from the stove, sink, or anyplace it might get splashed on) and just read off the screen.

Someday I may end up printing all the recipes out and putting them into some sort of binder, but right now this works VERY well for me.

Susan said...

I would love to do digital recipes. Being able to do a search for ingredients, and carry recipe files to the market with me on a device, sounds like heaven. I have a lot of cookbooks though, which I prize for their chatter, lessons in techniques, and philosophies as much as the recipes. I am a very tentative cook, don't know what I am doing, so I live for good cookbooks.

That said, I too have about one square foot of counter space. I prop the book in odd locations, sometimes even in the adjacent room if it won't fit in the kitchen.

I would love to learn how to get by without books, or perhaps to have time to transcribe recipes onto my computer (though I wouldn't want to take it into the kitchen, scary water and heat there!)

Lizi said...

Lately I've been tagging them in Gmail and using my smartphone to figure ingredients and follow the recipe. Terrified of that thing ending up in the sink 'cuz I'm notoriously klutzy but for now it's going just fine.

Eyebrows McGee said...

I spent much of last winter's quiet evenings typing up all my most-used recipes (the ones that end up stuck to the fridge), all my family recipes, and several favorites from cookbooks where I only make one or two things from the cookbook.

I had them printed in a 6x9" spiral-bound book at Lulu.com for under $16 shipped.

It. Is. Perfect.

No more digging through stacks of loose recipes, no more calling my mom for the fourth time for Auntie's Potatoes, and I was able to jettison half a dozen cookbooks to free up space.

(Plus with them all in a big giant file on my computer, I'm able to easily edit and e-mail them to others. If I had a smarter smart-phone, I'd put it into a PDF or something and have it on my phone too, but for now my phone is too dumb.)

It was a lot of work, but it was absolutely worth the effort.

Golda said...

I use cookbooks but for recipes I get from the internets and like, I copy them down on note cards and keep them in a recipe box. I'm a messy cook but love having the recipe right by me. I don't trust myself with anything electronic near me while cooking so I don't go digital.

Kim said...

I have a ton of cookbooks, but for online recipe collection and clipping, I use Evernote.com. It took me a long time to get to that point, but it's nice to have the accessible from everywhere.

I don't use a digital device in the kitchen, usually. I end up either printing the recipe out or copying some notes from it by hand onto a spiral notebook that I keep in the kitchen. I know, I know... I'm both high tech and very low tech.

shris said...

I store recipes in a letter size file box that stays on the counter. When I use them, I use a command clip on the wall to hold it.

I have a lot of recipes digital--family favorites, stuff I found on websites.. But when I use recipes I print them.

I like letter size because it's easy to print off, no hand-writing to record the recipe. Easy to reprint when something gets smudged. Plenty of room to add notes if I want to..

Jennifer said...

As a working mom, I needed a way to store recipes and also do my menus. I found a software that helps me do both AND after I do my menus for a certain period, it also creates a shopping list for me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. All recipes I save are electronic and I can sort them in different cookbooks, etc. It was worth every penny. I did have to convert all my paper recipes and type them in so there was an upfront time investment also.


http://www.shopncook.com/menu.html

Dawn said...

I just found http://www.kitchenmonki.com/
via another blog that I follow. I'm slowly putting all my recipes in there.

We're trying to focus more on meal planning to reduce our grocery costs, and you can create plans with KM, and then also create a grocery list from said plan. I'm really liking it so far.

However, there is something comforting about pulling down a well worn cookbook with splattered pages that show the love.

carrie murphy said...

i just have a big bookmarks folder in my browser called "recipes," and i also star in google reader. that way, when i have an itch to make something good/different, i just scroll through and see what tickles my fancy. i almost never use printed recipes, because i like to search the internet and compare different methods for the same basic dish, then occasionally combine and or modify.

carrie
masteroffineeats.blogspot.com

Steff said...

I get a lot of my recipes online, so I would love to be able to work directly off my laptop, but there is literally nowhere in my 5' by 5' kitchen to put it down safely. So here's what I do:
I print off the recipe (or write it on post-its if it's short enough) and I stick it to my cupboard with a glob of sticky tack that stays there at eye level just for this purpose. If the recipe doesn't work out I recycle the page, but if its a keeper I'll put it in my cookbook (a three ring, sticky page photo album with tabs to organize the categories of recipes). I do occasionally prop up a cookbook on the counter, as they fit nicely behind my fruit bowl, but if I'm using "my" cookbook (as opposed to a published one) I can just take out the page and stick it up on the cupboard. Works great, and the recipe is right there at eye level whether I'm prepping ingredients or working at the stove.

wosnes said...

Most of the recipes I try now come from the internet. When I find a recipe I want to try, I bookmark it. When I'm ready to try it, I take my laptop into the kitchen and cook. If the recipe is a keeper, I print it, put it into a plastic page protector and into a binder. If it's not a keeper, it gets deleted. I also copy favorite recipes from cookbooks into Word and print them for my binder. They're also stored online.

One thing I've learned: with rare exceptions, if I don't make a recipe within a week or two of bookmarking/finding it, the chances of it being made diminish substantially.

Rebecca said...

I use SpringPad to store my recipes and make weekly menus. The software is pretty smart and includes a web clipper that lets me copy recipes off web pages.

For those I use more than once from a book - I type them into SpringPad. It saves me the effort of finding them again.

Muchadoaboutnothing said...

I use both cookbooks and the internet. I have a composition notebook that's several years old and when I find a recipe online that I've tried and liked, I'll copy it into the notebook.

Kris said...

I wish I could go digital, but don't have a laptop yet and no smartphone, so I don't really have that option.

What I do instead, I have all recipes in a binder. I type most recipes into word and save them. Then print them out and put in a plastic sleeve. If I find a recipe online, I print it out and put it in a plastic sleeve.

Right now I have two binders, one for baking and one for everything else. I recently re-organized the everything else binder so it's organized, the baking one is still very disorganized.

If I don't want to keep the binder out on the countertop, I just take the plastic sleeve out that has the recipe I want. If it gets dirty, I just wipe it clean.

So far this one works great for me.

Anonymous said...

I use Delicious.com to save recipes online. I can share with my friends and access them from any device that gets web access. I use my net book in the kitchen.

Cookbooks have post it notes for quick access to the recipes I want to try.

M Family said...

I am a combo girl, I have my cookbooks for some recipes (or guidance if I am just being creative), I have a horrible recipe card holder in which I stuff recipes that are printed out and given to me, and I have my netbook as well, in which I have organized my favorites with Recipes to try and Recipes that are good with sublists for Main dish, Appetizers and desserts etc....I would love to do what my mother does and print out all the recipes as I use them and put them in a photo album, but I am not that dedicated...yet.

Jane said...

I started a blog and now just search my blog for recipes. If I make something new or pull-out an old favourite (from a book or index cards in a book) I just add it in.

Cindy said...

I have lots of cookbooks and I still clip a few magazine recipes, but mainly I use Evernote, which is a free program. It is great because I can just highlight what I want from internet or word documents (including pics) and create a clipping that then is an easily searchable note. You store notes in different notebooks you set up. What I love about it is that I can then access all my notes from my home computer, work computer or iphone. plus since I get many of my recipes from food blogs I read it makes saving those recipes easy.

Cindy said...

I use Evernote, which is a free program. I have a lot of cookbooks and some cooking magazines that I use, but most of my recipes come from food blogs I read. Evernote allows you to highlight what you want (including pictures) and make a clipping that gets saved as a note. You can add tags to the note, write comments, make titles, and then organize the notes how you want in different notebooks. I love it because it is really easy and I can access the notebooks from my home computer, work computer, and iphone (great for looking up recipes or ingredients while on the go.)

I also used evernote to keep all my wedding planning ideas and I save ideas for home projects too. It is really handy.

Mom to J & J said...

I use a lot of recipes from online and print them onto an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and put them in sheet protectors. That keeps them clean and leaves plenty of room to add any adjustments I make. For recipes I love from cookbooks, I will often photocopy them and place them in sheet protectors too for easy access. (and I keep the cookbooks so it's not a copyright violation!)

Lauri said...

About 10% of my recipes come from cookbooks. The other come from various blogs and online recipe sites...I use Microsoft OneNote to keep them organized and in one place. I have a "notebook" for recipes with sections for chicken, pasta, Mexican, fish, etc. etc. All I have to do is cut and paste a recipe from a website into the spot -- it is editable and I can add my own notes. It works great!

wosnes said...

Oh! I've discovered that the real test of whether or not a recipe is a keeper is if I'm willing to copy it by hand! Something I used to do routinely.

Robby said...

+1 for Evernote. I'm a total convert--I used to use starring items in Google reader as previously mentioned, but after a while, my starred list becomes too long! Evernote catalogs everything really well. It also lets me make changes directly to the recipe so I know what does/doesn't work the next time I make it.

Laura said...

I have this thing, it's a bit hard to describe, imagine a three-ring binder crossed with a rubbermaid container and a clipboard... I tried to find a picture to link to, but no such luck. But I use it for handwritten recipes, and for writing things down right after I finish cooking when I come up with something really delicious. Otherwise I set my laptop on the dining room table, or lay the cookbook on my kitchen stool.

It's usually not an issue though, because 85% of the time I'm winging it. 10% I'm baking, and 5% of the time I'm cooking from a recipe. Most of the time I just don't need to worry about where to put the recipe because there isn't one. At least, not until I'm done.

Kate said...

I use BigOven (www.bigoven.com) to keep my recipes organized. I can post recipes on the website or in their windows software. My recipes are easily viewable on their website, as well as in their apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. I make weekly grocery lists that are instantly sorted by aisle and I can bring my list to the store on my phone too. It saves me tons of time and my recipes are easily portable, shareable and never get lost. :)

Amanda on Maui said...

My iMac is in the kitchen anyway as my office, so I use MacGourmet for organizing my recipes. I still have cookbooks in a cabinet though because I love the feel of a cookbook in my hands, and you never know when your computer might go kaput. I have a small old recipe box from my MIL and an index card file I started before the computer program. Geez, I have a lot of organizing systems huh?
Oh, and I also use my computer to watch movies or TV shows while I'm cooking. It's especially nice on bulk cooking days.

Rachel said...

I also use Evernote and it is amazing. Since most of my new recipes come from blogs I just clip the text. It also recognizes the language in scanned pdfs so I've been scanning my items from books into evernote. (Although you would not believe how many recipes from my books are actually online found via googleand easily clipped.)

Evernote allows me to search by ingredient and I use tags for items like "snack, lunch, winter." I also use the iphone app to pull up ingredients when at the grocery.

Jennifer said...

I use cookbooks rarely. Mostly I use the Allrecipies.com & the Epicurious iphone apps. I like the extensive user reviews in All Recipes. I also tag recipes in google reader & I get those on my iphone too. I also have binders with magazine cutouts in page protectors but I rarely use them. I'd rather make something that's been reviewed.

Anonymous said...

I print recipes out and store them in plastic cover sheets in a binder, sorted by category of food. Recipes that were on note cards go in plastic photo-sheets if they fit.

The thing I do that I didn't see mentioned here is that I have a google doc full of recipes I want to try. There's a column for favorite recipes, a column for the name of a new recipe, and a column for a link to that recipe. This way my husband can also look at the list, and we can decide together what to make that week. I found when I just bookmarked recipes, I forgot about them and they sat in limbo, sometimes for years.

Erin said...

I mainly find new recipes via food blogs -- I read them via RSS feeds in Google Reader and open any that I want to save in new tabs. I use the Firefox extension for Delicious (delicious.com) to save them to my virtual recipe binder. I can tag them with the main meal categories (breakfast, dinner, dessert, appetizer) and then tags such as glutenfree, vegan, soup, cake, cookies, etc. When I want to figure out what to make, I can then browse all of my links tagged as "dinner", or I can search my bookmarks for recipes with "pork" in the title, for example. It is getting to the point where it is a little unwieldy (I have 4500+ recipes saved), but I love having ability to access my saved recipes on any computer so I can make up shopping lists at work or the bf's house. My dream is to write my own software to go through all my saved links, scrape the pages, and create a searchable-by-ingredient database of all my saved recipes.

When I get food magazines, I mark the recipes I like with sticky notes and then go through and find each recipe on the magazine's website (Cooking Light makes this easiest with their issue index of web links to recipes) and save it in Delicious. I can then recycle the magazine.

Unfortunately, this does mean my cookbooks get short shrift because I do almost all my menu planning digitally. Often I'll use a website that has copied a recipe from a book that I own instead of looking it up in the book! I like reading the cookbooks more as recreation :)

I used to print the recipes, magnet them to the fridge while cooking, and then store them in a binder. Nowadays I just take the laptop into the kitchen with me, keeping it far away from food. Once I did cover the keyboard in saran wrap so I could pause and play a chicken trussing how-to video while I was doing the trussing :P

My delicious recipe collection can be found here: http://www.delicious.com/Queequeg18/recipe

Anonymous said...

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious! I started using it about a year ago and my recipe collection has exploded. But since I can tag things anyway I want, it's super easy to find what I need. You can add your own comments in the "Notes" section. And really, given the name, isn't recipe organizing what you should be doing with it?!

Anita said...

As someone else already said, I too use a binder and plastic sleeves. I'm kind of transitioning into this right now, so I have cookbooks, loose papers, magazines, bookmarks on my browser and a notebook I'd previously handwritten recipes into. Quite a mess! But I have semi-photographic memory in that I can remember what most of my recipes look like on the page and where on the page and what sort of book they're in, so that narrows the search a bit!

Julie said...

I have a binder with sheet protectors that I use to hold all of my recipes. I put two recipes back-to-back in one sheet protector, and I have them organized by type of recipe (vegetarian, crockpot, etc). I also have a 2nd binder for all of my dessert recipes.

MonsteRawr said...

I type up all my recipes in a word document, then print them out, slip them in a page protector, and keep them in a binder. I have all my favorite recipes on hand, and when it comes to cooking I can just take out one page to reference instead of the whole book. And the page protectors keep everything dry and protected.

Heather said...

I get most of my recipes off the internet. I print them out and put the sheet in a plastic sheet protector. I have a big three-ring binder in the cupboard and the recipes are organized by protein.

Leigh said...

Y'all! Once again, I'm speechless! Thank you so much for the wealth of advice and info.

I am leaning toward digital because of my intense pack-rat tendencies. I am going to investigate Delicious, Springpad and kitchenmonki. I also have an Evernote account, but I've never quite figured out what to do with it. Perhaps, this is it.

Thanks for the inspirado and keep those suggestions coming! You are amazing.

Anna N said...

Digitally, I use Google Reader and I love it. If a recipe catches my eye, I tag it "recipe," and then "main dish" or "bread" or whatever, and then by ingredients or other things that I commonly search for. I have tags for all the vegetables I get in my CSA, and also for "beans" and "old bread" and "slow cooker." Then I can search by tag. I use the "Note in Reader" tab in my browser to add recipes to Reader if I don't subscribe to the feed for that site.

I still use cookbooks often, and I also have an accordion folder of newspaper clippings and printed-out recipes. I dream of helpful elves who will type out all of my favorite cookbooks' indexes to make a master index that's digitally searchable.

jibogus said...

I use evernote desktop application for windows to copy and paste recipes off the internet. Then I use the app on my iphone while I am cooking. It works great!

MagnoliaSouth said...

It really depends on the recipe. They fall into the following categories and each category is treated differently.

1. Someday recipes, that is recipes that sound good but I'm not going to fix now. These are usually clip and save, or some I see online. I just clip them (copy and paste into Notepad, then print) and toss them into a shoebox. Every now and then, I go through the box and throw out what I probably won't make, or pick one out to try.

2. Family favorites, are tried and true recipes that my family LOVES. I have software that keeps my recipes organized (that I backup onto a portable hard drive from time to time). I print them then file them in a 3-ring binder.

My 3-ring binder has tabs like any cookbook has. I just put it in there somewhere. I also keep one sheet protector at the front so when I make something, I slip the recipe sheet into the protector.

I have long flat knobs on my cabinets, which has benefits and drawbacks. I don't much like them, but what I LOVE about them is that I can use a clothes pin to pin up my recipes while I'm cooking. It's then right there at eye level.

3. Icks. Naturally those get tossed to never try again. I keep one section in my binder for a list of yuck recipes and why I didn't like them, so I don't make the same mistake twice by accident.

4. Special recipes and tips. These are for things I make fairly frequently and go on plain index cards which are filed in a filing box that belonged to my grandmother. :) Some examples in there are homemade condensed soup as an alternative to canned, internal temp chart, common substitutes, homemade whipped cream, etc.

I use the clothes pin for these too.

/list

Everything I have, except for the yuck recipes, are put on my computer and backed up for safe keeping.

All my purchased cookbooks are gone through page by page when I get a new one, to look for Someday recipes. If I see something interesting, on a scratch sheet of paper (I usually use envelopes from junk mail) I write down the name of the recipe, book name and page number then toss it into my Someday box. This prevents cookbook overload and they stay OUT of my kitchen.

MagnoliaSouth said...

Apparently my comment is too big, so I have to split this in half. :( Stupid blogger. They should let us know as we write. Anyway...

It really depends on the recipe. They fall into the following categories and each category is treated differently.

1. Someday recipes, that is recipes that sound good but I'm not going to fix now. These are usually clip and save, or some I see online. I just clip them (copy and paste into Notepad, then print) and toss them into a shoebox. Every now and then, I go through the box and throw out what I probably won't make, or pick one out to try.

2. Family favorites, are tried and true recipes that my family LOVES. I have software that keeps my recipes organized (that I backup onto a portable hard drive from time to time). I print them then file them in a 3-ring binder.

My 3-ring binder has tabs like any cookbook has. I just put it in there somewhere. I also keep one sheet protector at the front so when I make something, I slip the recipe sheet into the protector.

I have long flat knobs on my cabinets, which has benefits and drawbacks. I don't much like them, but what I LOVE about them is that I can use a clothes pin to pin up my recipes while I'm cooking. It's then right there at eye level.

MagnoliaSouth said...

Part II

3. Icks. Naturally those get tossed to never try again. I keep one section in my binder for a list of yuck recipes and why I didn't like them, so I don't make the same mistake twice by accident.

4. Special recipes and tips. These are for things I make fairly frequently and go on plain index cards which are filed in a filing box that belonged to my grandmother. :) Some examples in there are homemade condensed soup as an alternative to canned, internal temp chart, common substitutes, homemade whipped cream, etc.

I use the clothes pin for these too.

/list

Everything I have, except for the yuck recipes, are put on my computer and backed up for safe keeping.

All my purchased cookbooks are gone through page by page when I get a new one, to look for Someday recipes. If I see something interesting, on a scratch sheet of paper (I usually use envelopes from junk mail) I write down the name of the recipe, book name and page number then toss it into my Someday box. This prevents cookbook overload and they stay OUT of my kitchen.

Emily @ Relishments said...

Recipes from friends and magazines which I receive on paper get put into binders, organized by course (breakfast, appetizer, main course, side dish, dessert, etc)

Recipes I see online, I copy and paste into Evernote (http://evernote.com). The search feature is amazing, there are iPod and iPad apps for it and it makes clipping and organizing recipes super easy.

Laura said...

I use Evernote, too, and LOVE it. You can also scan in recipes from magazines and Evernote will "read" them so they can be searched as well.

Anonymous said...

I also use Evernote. I started using it to be able to consolidate all the "web-found" recipes. Do the folks who are using it for scanned recipes have the upgraded version? I thought I had read on the website that it won't search the text of pdfs in the free version.

I still need to refine my system because as of now I have accounts for a lot of the major recipes sites (allrecipes, my recipes, etc.) where I have already saved a lot of recipes. I don't want to go back and copy them all to Evernote.

I also have a hybrid system where I have printed copies in a binder (in sheet protectors) and other recipes saved digitally. I do sometimes access recipes on Evernote/web from my smartphone, but its a little annoying because I have to keep unlocking the phone and I don't want to get it dirty. Supposedly, a future iteration of the iPhone will have a projector?? Or is that urban legend. I use a Droid anyhow.

The PlantoEat web-based recipe organizing/meal planning program (http://www.plantoeat.com/)is also good and you can copy and paste recipes into the program directly. It does a good job of parsing everything into the right fields.

Anonymous said...

I also use Evernote. I started using it to be able to consolidate all the "web-found" recipes. Do the folks who are using it for scanned recipes have the upgraded version? I thought I had read on the website that it won't search the text of pdfs in the free version.

I still need to refine my system because as of now I have accounts for a lot of the major recipes sites (allrecipes, my recipes, etc.) where I have already saved a lot of recipes. I don't want to go back and copy them all to Evernote.

I also have a hybrid system where I have printed copies in a binder (in sheet protectors) and other recipes saved digitally. I do sometimes access recipes on Evernote/web from my smartphone, but its a little annoying because I have to keep unlocking the phone and I don't want to get it dirty. Supposedly, a future iteration of the iPhone will have a projector?? Or is that urban legend. I use a Droid anyhow.

The PlantoEat web-based recipe organizing/meal planning program (http://www.plantoeat.com/)is also good and you can copy and paste recipes into the program directly. It does a good job of parsing everything into the right fields.

Paula said...

I have to second SpringPad (www.springpadit.com)!!! I never liked to cook because I could never find the recipes that I had saved or printed out and then I would forget about them. Since discovering SpringPad (FREE by the way), it has changed the way I save recipes, shop, and even cook! I love it because if you find a recipe online, you can use their "clipper" tool to automatically import the ingredients list and the link to the original source. You can simply block, copy, and paste the directions into Springpad. You can tag it with notes, photos, and all kinds of other info such as cuisine, type, cook time, and even mark whether you've cooked it yourself or not and you can give it a star rating. You can also quickly share the recipes via facebook, email, or print out when you need them. You can also access all of your recipes from your smart phone while at the grocery store and even use it to make a menu and shopping list. Love, love, love it!

Becky said...

I'm a bit old-fashioned, I guess--I do use Evernote to store recipes I find online, but for the keepers, I type them up with whatever changes I made, print them out, and store them in a binder. (I'm actually currently in the process of sorting through that, because my aunt recently gave me a new binder with a beautiful homemade cover and several of the family recipes in it, after I was joking at a recent bridal shower for a cousin's fiancee that she'd have to make those for the single gals sometime. Wow.)