How To Organise Your Recipes Offline

Photo: Kara Eads, Unsplash

There are a lot — some might say “too many” — recipes floating around in the world. Books and magazines are full of them but, thanks to the internet, you could cook a new recipe a day and never open a cookbook. There are many apps for keeping track of your online favourites, but the truly special recipes deserve a hard copy.

For the printed piece

Food magazines are one of the few magazines I still buy, but I do not have room to keep stacks of periodicals in my 56-square-metre apartment. The problem with printed recipes is that they usually come in all sorts of fun and varying shapes and sizes. Some are a sidebar, some are a full page, and some are a shape in between the two.

A ring binder, filled with clear plastic sleeves, works particularly well here, as you can mix and match the sleeve sizes — I like to use a mixture of full-page-sized sleeves and smaller sleeves meant for photos, to keep things as neat as possible.

You can also keep the binder as organised (or not) as you like with dividers and tabs, and move things around without messing with the structural integrity of your filing system.

Beyond magazines and newspaper clippings, you can also use the binder to clean out your cookbook collection, and make photocopies of your favourite pages before donating the book to a library. (Just make sure you only use the copies for personal use.)

If it’s a family thing

Recipe boxes are charming, nostalgia-filled filing systems that make great family heirlooms, but things can get contentious if there is more than one sentimental cook in the family.

A few years before my grandmother passed away, she made a spiral-bound book that contained copies of all of her recipe cards, along with photos of the family, and gave them to her children and grandchildren for Christmas.

She had a family friend (who conveniently owned a printing business) help her make the book, but you can make one at any big box office supply chain, or — if you want to be a little fancier — create a bound book using a company such as Shutterfly or Snapfish.

If they’re a personal project

I do most of my recipe development in a notebook or notepad, but my dad recently sent me a fancy Moleskine recipe journal, and I am into it. Rather than work out my rough drafts in it, I record the winning combinations and techniques, then make notes of how long it took, what heating elements I used, and how difficult it was (there are neat little boxes provided for each).

You can use a recipe journal for your own creations, or you can use it to keep track of your favourites that were written by others, including any modifications, tips and tricks you learned while cooking them.

If the format — or price tag — of the Moleskine journal doesn’t work for you, you can always use a cheap, blank notebook; create your own hyper-specific format; bullet journal style, and get really creative with the look, feel and format.


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