If chef Alison Cooper ever contemplates what she’d save from her home in a fire, the answer is easy.
“Assuming people and pets are safe, one thing would be my recipe binder,” says Cooper, 52, author of The Sticky Kitchen food blog.
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The binder is a compilation of the greatest hits in her cooking repertoire that have been approved not only by Cooper but also by her husband and their three kids. Inside, she says, are printed recipes (and some cut out from magazines) complete with notes in the margins — all slipped into plastic sheet protectors. “I imagine one day my kids wanting copies of the binder for their own homes,” Cooper says.
Chances are you’ve got some favorite recipes lying around, too — perhaps crumpled up in a kitchen drawer, stuffed into a cookbook, or somewhere out there on the internet waiting for you to look them up every time you crave them.
Without an organized system, it can be a time waster to hunt for that family recipe passed down for the generations, or the online recipe for the perfect chili from a few months back. Here are a few ways to keep those cooking instructions more organized.
1. Make a recipe binder or family cookbook
When it comes to keeping physical copies of your favorite recipes organized, it’s hard to beat the ease of building a recipe binder.
Two-inch binders hold about 350 sheets of paper, while 4-inch binders can fit as many as 800, so choose your size accordingly. Then start collecting.
“I usually use a three-ring hole punch and add the sheet of paper directly into the bindings,” says Kelsey Riley, founder of plant-based food blog Planted in the Kitchen. For smaller sheets of paper with recipes on them or recipe cards, she suggests buying clear plastic sheet protectors and sliding the recipes into them before adding them to the binder.
It’s a good idea to use plastic sheet protectors on all your binder recipes so they can be easily wiped off if Nonna’s spaghetti sauce splatters or that bottle of vanilla tips over.
Tabs, with a table of contents to remind you of what each section holds, are useful for keeping recipes organized within different sections of the binder. And you can consider organizing your recipes by courses (appetizer, soups, entrees, desserts, holiday dishes, for example) or by seasons, suggests avid home cook Ashley Schuering, who pens the Confessions of a Grocery Store Addict blog.