Reader Q & A: Recipe Organization

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Occasionally, readers write with questions that I know others might be able to add to or benefit from. Today we’re talking about recipe organization.

Q. You may have covered this before but do you mind sharing how you store your recipes? Do you have an online resource for this?

Our family moves every 2-3 years and some sort of soft storage system seems more realistic for us. I do use keywords with google reader but it seems like there must be something out there for recipe storage that is stored online, off your computer that can be accessed from anywhere.

A. Despite the hundreds of recipes I have in my possession, I actually do not have a stellar means of recipe storage. Many are online, obviously, as I’ve posted many family favorites on my blogs, here and on Good Cheap Eats. I’ve been known to run to my computer for a recipe.

And then get distracted by Facebook.

In a few months, many of my freezer-friendly recipes will all be corralled in one cookbook. Yippee!

Many older, pre-blog, pre-cookbook recipes, are in recipe notebooks or binders that I’ve maintained since high school. Still others are in the cookbooks or magazines I found them in.

This month one of my goals is to begin the process of teaching my three older boys to cook and to be more independent in the kitchen. This means making sure they have easy access to recipes. So, I’m creating a working recipe binder. It’s still in the works, but here’s what I did.

  1. Printed off a copy of this month’s meal plan.
  2. Printed off recipes of every meal I’ve planned for this month.
  3. Collated them all in a binder for easy access for anyone 9 and older.

We’ll see how this works. Stay tuned!

How do YOU store your recipes?

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. Binders mostly. I have binder for favorites, divided by category. Then the recipes I print off the internet, get out of magazines, etc I put in binders and divide by category. Once I try one and if I like it, it goes in the favorites, if not, it goes in the trash. Some are typed, some are not.

    • Corissa says

      We do the same thing, and since I put the dividers on, they are easy for me to search. When I want to try something new just grab that new recipe binder and I’m good to go. I LOVE it.

  2. I have a little binder but I mostly use my computer since it’s in my kitchen with me. I use an app called SousChef.
    When I had an iPad I used an app called My Recipe Book.
    These are both great digital options.

  3. I use Gmail as my primary email address and everything is stored in labels/folders in Gmail. I email myself any and all recipes that I like or might be interested in and give them labels (can use more than one label). So, I can browse my Crockpot label or Poultry label or Easy/Weeknight label and find lots of ideas. I can also search, which helps when I want to use a specific ingredient. Finally, I star the emails/recipes that we’ve tried and loved, so I can easily find a tried-and-true recipe when I am looking for a no brainer.

    The only downside to this method is that for old recipes, I’ve had to type them out. But, it’s worth it to know that they are always at my fingertips when I am at work on lunch break or in the grocery store with my phone. Most recipes I have are from various websites and I just cut and paste into an email. Easy peasy!

    • maggie says

      For old recipes, you may be surprised to fine them online, where someone else has typed and posted them.

  4. I have a recipe binder but it’s a hot mess! I need to get better at keeping it organized!

  5. My oldest daughter is in college and living in a house with roommates this year, and she wanted some of her favorite recipes to cook for her friends – yikes! I had to scramble and photocopy a bunch (from my binder and assorted cook books!) and mail them to her. She put them in a binder, but I’m trying to think of an easy way to give the favorites to the next daughter who leaves!?

  6. I have lugged a binder with me for the past 28 years (now 2 binders…)…just getting organized enough to scan all of the pages in, as many are in my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s writing and I want to pass along to family members.

    Over the past few years, I’ve loaded various software onto my computer (Mac Gourmet and The Recipe Manager), but both are more cumbersome for me to use and frankly, if I have to re-input a recipe, it probably won’t happen.

    Lately, if I find something online, I simply pin it into my recipe file on pinterest. I have one board for recipes we love to make and eat. I have another for recipes that we’d like to try. And when we try something and don’t like it, I simply unpin it. All offline, so all you have to do is remember your password.

    Good luck!!

  7. Hattie says

    I keep my recipes in a 3 ring binder with tabbed categories. May need to break it into 2 binders this year, if I keep my goal of trying 1 new recipe every week.:)

    I also have an e-version of (most) them now, because one of my homemaking goals last year: Take any recipe not in my binder, and when I make it for the first time after the new year, type it up.

    Then I saved said typed copy to my recipe file on our laptop and printed a copy for my binder, which it went into immediately, under the appropriate tab. Because I wouldn’t let myself make the recipe unless it was from my binder.:)

    That year-long goal made the whole organize-all-of-your-recipes thing a lot less overwhelming.:)

    We utilize free Syncplicity storage as well, so I can access anything on our laptop (well, except photos, because the free storage amount won’t hold all of them) from another computer.

  8. I am loving Pinterest for storing all my recipes. Most of what I find these days are online anyways and then I just organize them within that format. No more paper to lug around. I have gone back and found some old favorites and I find them online again, “pin” them and I’m good to go.

  9. Binders. I tear out interesting recipes from magazines, and print any I find online. I have some stored as document online too, but I find I use them much less, and end up printing them out. Not good for me to have a computer anywhere near the kitchen, I make such a mess!

    My binders are organized by lots of categories and subcategories, making it easy to find things. If I cut something out of a magazine, I tape it to a sheet of paper, so that it doesn’t get torn up. One day, I may put them all in sheet protectors.

  10. I’ve finally found something that works for me. I find most of my recipes on blogs (like this one =), and what I do is copy and paste the recipe into a Word document. I also put the URL on the bottom of the recipe so I can go back to it if needed. I paste using “paste special” and “unformatted text.” That helps with weird fonts and spacing. I save all these recipes in a “Recipes” folder in Word.

    After I’ve made a recipe and seen if we like it or not, I’ll edit it in the Word document if necessary, and then, if I make it more than 2 times, I copy it down by hand onto an index card. The index cards aren’t filed well, I admit, but there are a lot less of them than there are documents in my folder. =)

  11. Great site!

  12. Started using one of those sticky photo albums after we got married for the recipes I cut out of magazines or printed. I also have some pages that are in page protectors rather than just whole punched paper. If I find one online that I like I highlight & copy it and open my recipe file on my computer and paste it there. I’ll also put commentary on my recipes. I also got my mom to type hers on the computer and sent the file to my siblings, and nieces and nephews.

  13. I also have a large notebook that I copy recipes into, or tape in something I’ve ripped from a magazine. But, the other book I use a lot is a family recipe book. Recipes were complied from all families (since my mom comes from a family of 15 kids), and includes some of my grandmothers secret recipes. I’m hoping to create my own recipe book this year – something I can print off like 10 copies, and give as gifts for family & friends. As I make different things, I’m also taking pictures of them to include in the book.

  14. I have used a variety of recipe organization systems over the years from recipe card boxes to binders to tabbed magazines. I have a really good memory and usually can remember where the recipes are stored. As my recipe collection continues to grow, however, and my brain becomes more jumbled with all the things that we moms have to keep up with, I’m longing for a better way to keep it all organized. I don’t have time to be rifling through cards/magazines/binders. Plus I get too distracted in the process. I’ve started a blog – – that I hope will help with my recipe organization for those recipes that I use over and over or want to pass on. I like the Pintrest concept for new recipes since most of the new ones I find come from the online world. I also have included some of our all time favorite recipes (with pics of the kids and/or me creating them) in our family scrapbook because cooking is such a big part of our family memories.

  15. Stefanie says

    I was using and I had really liked it. It is free and I would just copy and past the recipes and their source. Now I am using I had gotten a coupon for the subscription. It is a little easier to import the recipes I find. Both of these sites also create shopping lists and are mobile friendly! I have some recipes in a Evernote notebook, but I like having the shopping list created for me according to my recipes in my menu plan available on my phone.

  16. Holly C says

    I have a recipe notebook in Evernote. It’s easy and I can access it from my computer, phone, etc. I do have a paper notebook that I have copies of old family recipes in too.

  17. Kimberly says

    If you’re interested specifically in an online storage option, check out a site called It’s great! You’re able to search other recipes that have been loaded (unless marked private) and upload your own recipes, including photos. The fun part of it is that you can also order cookbooks of your recipes from their site – I found these made great and easy holiday gifts this past year.

    It’s completely free, plus if you have a smart phone or tablet there is a free app available – I bring my iPad right to the kitchen with me!

  18. I use three accordian style files. The cheap plastic one’s from Target. I have one with Main dishes ( includes tabs for chicken,beef, hamburger,pork, other meat, casserole,soup) Second is side dishes( tabs for veggies,pasta/rice, breads , snack foods,dips/sauces, mixes/seasoning) Third is desserts (tabs for cake,cookie,pie/cobbler,sweet breads/rolls,holiday) I also keep a clear plastic envelope type of thing for my weekly meal plan. I go through my files and pick out meals and things I want to make that week then put the recipes in the envelope for easy access. Then I just refile them at the next meal planning day. I have used binders before but I have found this works better for me. I cut out recipes from magazines, print them from the internet or make photocopies of recipes from cookbooks that I use often or really like and want to remember with easy access.

  19. I have a binder with tabs for recipes I print out. Online, I use (I use the free version) and have recently gotten more diligent about organization there. You can set up your own folders which I have done for specific holidays. This year was my second time using the Thanksgiving and Christmas folders for referring to my traditional dishes and I LOVED it. I easily created a grocery list from my traditional recipes. Also, in you can save a link to a recipe that is not in their database and do all the same organizational things.

    • Cheryl M says

      I need to figure out how to save a link & make folders in Allrecipes. I’ve been using them more & more (Also the free version) I have over 60 recipes so far!!
      I also have a recipes folder under my IE favorites that is out of control. I haven’t figured out how to import it neatly into google chrome yet (Yes, I have become technology stupid recently) but I got a laptop for Christmas & really want to streamline my recipes. One of my goals is to waste less ink by printing out the recipes & just take the laptop into the kitchen. I also have 3 Trapper keepers that exploded over the Christmas break & need to be reorganized (or track down the original recipes electronically & do something)

  20. Shannon says

    I use Evernote as well. I like it because I can manually type on recipes, clip them from websites, or take a picture with my iPhone (if I stumble across a recipe on a magazine). Evernote makes all of these items searchable, so I can type “chicken” and all of these recipes pop up. It also allows you to use tags, and sub-folders, add recipe photos, audio clips, and even share recipes. A great free site!

  21. Elizabeth says

    have to agree with the evernote suggestions 🙂 i have a folder for recipes and use tags to easily sort them – tags for new vs. tested recipes, tags for ingredients, tags for type (breakfasts, treats, casseroles, etc.). i love having the online access because any time I’m telling a friend about a recipe I found, want to make something when I’m away from home, etc. I just pull up the recipe online.

  22. Melissa says

    I have recently discovered I love it because I can access my recipes on my smartphone through their app, or on any computer. You can save a picture, and make shopping lists that you can email to yourself or someone and/or text it to you so you have it with you when you forget your list. I love having my recipes with me at all times. If I rave about one and someone wants it I can quickly send it to them and it saves me a trip home after work when I don’t know what I need to make dinner if my recipes were at the house.

  23. I’ve been using a piece of software (for Mac only) called MacGourmet which I like because I can type in my recipes and use the software for meal planning and automatically creating grocery lists. I also like that I can easily search all of my recipes by ingredient so I can start my meal planning for the week by using up perishable ingredients I already have on hand.

  24. I agree with all the Evernote comments above. It is amazing! You can also scan recipes that are precious (like old family recipes) so you have the ‘look’ that you are accustomed to, but no fear of damaging or spilling on it.
    I have emailed friends recipes from Evernote a LOT as well. If there is something on Pinterest that I make and love, I copy it in my Evernote files. Great, free resource!

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