Organize Recipes So You Can Actually Make Them

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Recipes can be some of our most prized possessions and regularly used resources to help us eat well and enjoy good meals with family. How can you organize recipes so they best serve you?

This post was written by Life as Mom contributor, Prerna Malik.

recipe books

Have you ever saved, pinned or clipped a bunch of recipes to make later and then, never made them? I have.

That’s why, one of my main organizing missions this year was all about organizing recipes so that I actually end up making them. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for pinning away to my heart’s content recipes that are more aspirational in nature than any thing else but I also like to have a stash of new recipes to try so that dinner at our home isn’t always same ol’, same ol’.

On that note, here are the 2 simple and easy ways that I’ve organized my recipe collection so that I can pull out a new recipe without getting sucked into the vortex of pretty pictures and complex instructions.

How to Organize Recipes with Ease

1. Use a Real Recipe Book to Organize Recipes

I’ve gone old-fashioned and organized my recipes in a regular recipe book. It’s working wonderfully since the recipe book has categories in it and all I need to do is either paste a clipped recipe in it or write it down.

It’s also good writing practice since I think I’d actually forgotten how to write with all the typing that I do. You can also do the same with recipe cards. They’re pretty neat too!

The only rule I have here is to write down or paste a recipe that I’ve tried. I don’t want to fill it up with “should make this” recipes. That I reserve for my 2nd organizational tool.

pinterest recipes

2. Pin It to Organize It

Yes, Pinterest. Hear me out though on this one. Organizing my “should make this” recipes on Pinterest is SO much easier. I find a recipe on a food blog, like Jessica’s Good Cheap Eats and all I have to do is pin it so when I do want to make it, I have it handy.

The only rule here is to organize your pin boards in a way that YOU will understand. I have them organized into Mains, Desserts, Snacks, Gluten-free, Dairy-free. You can have them organized according to ingredients, time taken, style of cuisine, and so on. Your choice.

But again, be selective. Don’t pin everything because it looks pretty. 😉 Pin recipes you’d actually consider making.

There you have it. Two painless ways to get that recipe clutter under control and actually make
some of them.

How do YOU organize recipes in collection?

Prerna smallGourmet content chef, author of the Content Cookbook and community manager for time-starved entrepreneurs and bloggers, Prerna Malik, along with her husband Mayank, infuses online communities with sugar, spice and everything nice… for a small business. Grab her FREE social media and copywriting goodies here!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. Andie D says

    I use PlantoEat. I’m easily able to import recipes directly from the web or enter my own favorites. You can add recipes to your calendar and also make shopping lists. You can even search by ingredient. I’ve tried a bunch of different archiving and this is by far the best and easiest to use!

    • Ooh yeah.. I’d dabbled with Plan to Eat a while ago Andie and while I didn’t stick with it long enough;) .. am SO glad to hear you have a system that works for you!! THAT is key!

      Thanks so much for sharing!!

  2. I have severe back issues and I’m disabled, so life has changed over the years. Long ago, my two daughters jokingly argued over who got my cookbook collection (it fills a bookcase, and I have my great-grandmother’s recipe box.) I decided I would computerize the family favorites, with all the changes we’ve made. It’s categorized like a ‘real’ cookbook, and has important stuff I’ve learned over the years, too. When they move out, they’ll get a flash drive of the food they’ve loved. I try one new recipe every week, I collect the possibilities in a file folder. If it’s bad – trash. If it’s okay but not worth tweaking, trash. If it has potential, I date it, indicate who ate it, and suggested improvements. Next time I make it, we incorporate the changes, and reevaluate.

  3. I use a small photo album for my recipe cards. It is the perfect size for them and can be wiped off easily,

  4. I also love the phone app “All Recipes.” It has a recipe box that you save favorite recipes in right on your phone. It also has a dinner spinner. If you happen to have an ingredient on hand that you want to use, you can spin dinner, amount of time you have to cook, and that ingredient, and it will populate many options for you. I cook one and save my other favorites in my recipe box on the app, for later.

    • I just got a new phone so a whole new world has opened up for me. I was able to pin on my phone, something I’ve not ever done. Game changer. (Or time suck….)

  5. I have 2 file boxes for my recipes. One for the ones we’ve tried and liked, and one for the ones I want to try. A recipe book sounds like a great way to organize them too. I love pinning recipes, and I only pin the ones I like, but I do need to organize them better. They’re just all in one group.

  6. Some time in 2007 I decided to try to find some type of computer program to organize my recipes. We were going to be moving around a lot, and I knew I couldn’t take all my favorite cookbooks and magazines. I mentioned this to a friend, and she showed me a program that she was using. ( It was time consuming getting my favorites into the program, but worth it. I mark recipes I have made with an asterisk, and add notes to jog my memory about variations, etc.
    For things I want to try from the internet, I use Pinterest. I have them separated by types of recipes, and occasionally browse through for ideas. I also occasionally delete some things that might have looked good, but I would never get around to doing.

  7. Cheri A says

    I’ve been using Pepperplate ( for the past year. It looks like it does a lot of the same thngs that Plan to Eat does, but it is free! I have the app on my iPad, my phone, and the recipe bookmarklet on my computer. I add tags to recipes that I haven’t tried yet and search for them and move them to the correct categories after I’ve tried them. I think I must be one of the only ones in the world that doesn’t like Pinterest much.

  8. Martha Cushman says

    I also use, which lets me create my own categories, and save recipes, with my comments when I have made them. My latest folder is from researching Vegan recipes for a guest. I can even make a folder such as Susan’s wedding for planning….

  9. I use Pinterest to organize potentials online, and use categories that are easy for me to sort through. (Every once in awhile I’ll take the time to go through and make sure everything is in it’s proper place too–worth the time!!)

    For paper recipes that are potentials, I use old folders from college and high school. Those too are organized–entree, dessert, breads, sides, drinks, etc.

    For keeping the recipes we liked, I tried quite a few different things. (Both on the computer and off.) I finally came up with my own format,saved as a doc in google docs: In the header, I have “Main Flavors” on the left and “Type of Dish” on the right. In the body I put the title, picture (if I remember to take one, ha), ingredients, directions, yield/time, nutrition facts, and comments. The footer has the original source. I print them out, and put them in a 3 ring binder with page protectors–so even if I spill something on it while cooking, it’s not usually a big deal!
    That system works great for me–it was moderately time consuming at first, but now I just try to type up my new recipes every week or so. (Sometimes that turns into every few months, but hey I try,)

    The best thing about using google docs is that I can access my recipes from anywhere–If I am at work and a coworker likes something I brought, it takes just a minute to print it out for them!

  10. Nice tips Prerna, I love the point you’ve made in this article.
    When it comes to managing multiple recipes, we all suffer from idea overload.
    So many recipes make us excited, whenever we open a TV or social media something new just pops out. And as you said, being selective is extremely important here. I like the way you separate
    recipes you’ve tried, from those you would like to cook in the future. I think this is the we should prioritize our cooking. To give more focus on I’ve tried recipes (family favorites), instead of newcomers.

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