Organzing Recipes

To the left of my sink is a slim, awkwardly sized cabinet that can’t hold much. I keep in it small decor items, the cookbooks I use most often, and a loose collection of recipes I found online and in magazines.

To the right of my stove, which is also diagonal to the slim cabinet, is a standard sized cabinet. Inside I store plates, bowls, platters, tea, my recipe box, and a loose collection of recipes I found online and in magazines.

This is a DELUXE RECIPE BINDER my dad bought me for Christmas, bless his heart. I put it in the return pile, and when I couldn’t figure out where he bought it, I put it in the donate pile. At some point I was curious and opened it up. It’s not my style and not anything I would buy, but it wasn’t half bad!

There are plenty of stickers and labels for food gifts and storage, matching loose-leaf paper, organized tabs and dividers (not enough, in my opinion), printer-friendly recipe cards, several at-a-glance cooking guides, and plenty of pockets (about 7) to store loose items. It’s not beautiful, but it sure is useful. I looked online and couldn’t find a DELUXE RECIPE BINDER with a modern aesthetic, but even if I did I wouldn’t buy one. This one is brand new and will do nicely. I would feel wasteful buying the same thing in a different pattern, especially since this one is nonreturnable.

I pulled out the recipe box and all my loose recipes. I thought the project would take me 20 minutes, tops. Fool!

So many of my online recipes were duplicates! And a few of them–the ones I’ve made over and over again–I remember printing out multiple times. My “system” was so unorganized, so nonexistent, that it was easier for me to go to the computer and print out another copy than rifle through a stack of stained, crumpled paper spread across two cabinets for a recipe I wasn’t sure I had.

I then tackled my recipe box, which was equally pathetic. I kept only a handful of recipes, three from my grandmother that I didn’t even know I had. The rest went in the garbage. I will write out the recipes I cut from packages or ripped from papers on the recipe cards provided. They are huge, which I like. My writing is large and sprawling; I can use the room.

I also did what I should have done years ago, and that’s slip the recipes into sheet protectors. That’s what took forever! But it’s done. Yay. I love that the binder tabs account for that and far enough that you can still see them. Fun fact: I blogged that recipe almost two years ago to the day right here.

In the end I was left with a neat, tidy, and easily accessed collection of recipes.

That didn’t fit in the cabinet. Sad trombone. Eventually (like, five minutes ago at 10:55pm as I was showing off my handiwork to the Mister) I figured out I could fit the binder if I stored it in the middle of the cabinet, away from the hinges and frames. And by “I figured out,” I mean the Mister pointed out what should have been obvious.

Before that revelation, I had decided to store it where I used to keep my recipe box. It wasn’t ideal, but I quickly found a silver lining. For starters, now I know what William Morris project I’m going to be tackling next week. Yowza.

This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.

Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

        1. Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
        2. Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
        3. No links to giveaways, please.
        4. There are buttons to add to your post or sidebar, too, thanks to the lovely Alex, of Type A Calligraphy. Please link the buttons back to this site.
        5. Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.



Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    That’s very lovely!

    I just started using Evernote to organize my recipes and I’m loving it. I have a ton of magazines with recipes I have bookmarked in the past, but never found the magazine again down the road. So I started scanning them and am tossing the magazines (well, giving them to my MIL who wants to browse them also and then letting her find a new happy home for them) and then I use Lightroom to shrink and crop the pages. Then everything gets imported into Evernote, which has the ability to scan images & PDFs for text. *LOVE*

    Ultimately, I hope to put pretty much everything in there. Sure, it would suck if I had no computer handy…but I certainly hope it never comes to that. And you can sync it all to your phone, iPad, PC, etc without having to think about it.

    I’m new to your project & have read Carrie’s posts a few times (Carrie’s Busy Nothings) about her progress, so I figured it was time to finally brag about all the decluttering & organizing we’re doing around here too! Are you really only doing this for 31 days? 😉 Cause I’m going to need more like a full year to get rid of our 10 years of build up!

    • says

      Oh no, the 31 days was in October! The post tag is confusing (and from October) so I changed it. Thanks for the reminder! We do it once a week now, more if you are up for it! I might do a big 31 day push in October again. We’ll see if I have the energy! I’m hoping that when October comes, there won’t be enough projects for a month. We’ll see about that.

      ZAs for Evernote, that sounds like a great idea! I’ve heard of it, but don’t know what it is. (I’m assuming a program of some sort.) Lightroom I don’t have. I’m pretty slow when it comes to technology, so I’ll save your suggestion for 2018, when I am finally ready to take the plunge just before everyone moves onto the next thing.

  2. says

    I have always wondered what the point is of small thin cupboards. Every kitchen that I have ever had has had one of them and they don’t fit anything. I think your idea of putting small cookbooks in them is the best thing I have seen.
    As for the William Morris quote… hmm…. I think I am a bit of a pack rat I’m afraid. Although, I do believe that the odd bits of string and bits of colourful paper that I keep will one day have a unique purpose :)

    • says

      It’s very handy to keep the book (and now the recipes) so close at hand!

      The William Morris quote is a tough one, that’s for sure. I think most of us participating have a bit of the pack-rat in us. Do what you can, when you can.

  3. says

    That’s on my list . . . for when I dare clean out my office closet. Yes, that’s where my online recipes currently reside. Because I started this here project, oh, a year or so ago–but ran out of space in my binder. I also ran out of sheet protectors. A sad tale, for certain . . .
    I do, however, think you’ll love the covered recipes. At least I have, the times I’ve pulled my binder out from the hodge-podge that is the bottom of my closet.

    • says

      I did a major cull of the recipes, or I would have run out of sheet protectors, too. Honestly, some of the recipes I printed I can’t believe I wasted the ink on!

  4. says

    Love your progress with your recipes, Jules. I have a stack of recipes that I’ve printed out and used and then stuffed in my cabinet and I know I need to get on the ball and do something with them (besides continue to stuff them in a basket). {sigh} No linky post for me this week, but I DID manage to clean out another bag of clothes from my closet (unbelieveable that there is still stuff to get rid of) and I’m doing a second purge around the house to make sure I really use everything. I think it’s helpful to clean out, wait a week or two or three, and then go back and see if you still need everything you kept. I’ve been finding that…I don’t. The bag of clothes went away because I thought, “Who am I kidding – I haven’t worn that jacket in the two years since I got it, I’m not going to wear it in the future.” It’s basically about being honest with yourself, isn’t it? :-) So, the cleanout continues and maybe I’ll have something more to share next week…in the meantime – keep up the good work!

    • says

      I agree that it’s good to wait a bit before you drop everything off. It’s a system, and you have to give it time to see if it will work in the long term. There are a few books I’ve referenced since last October that I am glad I still had. Had I dropped everything off at Goodwill, I would have had to go to the library.

  5. Susan G says

    Beautiful job! And now I know what my next project will be. For someone who, at the age of 54, still doesn’t cook regularly, I have an amazing number of recipes, cookbooks, and issues of Cooks Illustrated. I keep thinking the next thing I buy, print, or copy will be The One that will turn me into someone who wants to cook. Now baking? That I can do and love it! If we could only live on homemade pound cake…

  6. says

    You just had to bring up the subject of recipes, didn’t you? I have a drawer overflowing with slips of paper AND a shelf in my pantry filled with cookbooks. Dang it. At this point, I don’t even know if I’ll remember the recipes that are sentimental and the ones that are just old. But my tastes and dietary habits have changed so much in the past several years that I’m sure most of them are obsolete.

    Thanks for going first. (sigh)

    • says

      Oh, I have a shelf in my pantry full of cookbooks, too. I purged a few of them in October, but it probably deserves another go-round. Not probably–I know it does. SIGH.

  7. says

    Oh – this is something I need tackle! You could cover your book with fabric that is more ‘you’ ~ then it will be useful AND beautiful :-)

  8. Karen F says

    I do the same thing with printing recipes from the internet – printing them again and again!
    I also have a recipe organizer/book, that’s sitting, empty, waiting to be filled with all my little scraps and printouts….thanks for the push! I think this is one of those relatively small projects that will make a big difference! The funny thing is, I originally bought the book for my sister, but then kept it for myself because I liked and needed it. But it’s sat, unused (I don’t even want to admit for how long!)

    • says

      It really does make a huge difference. I can’t believe how easy it is to find things now! I mean, I can believe it…I guess I just can’t believe that I waited so long to do it. It just that…you have to go to Staples, buy a binder, get sheet protectors, etc. etc. See what a procrastinator I am?

  9. Missie says

    This is something I can totally relate to. I have so many pages from magazines torn out. Hard to organize those in any way because often there are multiple recipes (dinner, desert, appetizer) on one page and none having one ingredient in common. I was thinking of scanning and tagging them but haven’t gotten around to it yet. So thanks to Tiffany for the Evernote idea! This past weekend I was very productive. I purged 2 linen/medicine/toiletry closets, the cupboards in the laundry room, the kids arts/crafts bins (I think the pencils are mating) and the DVD/CD storage cupboard. I threw many of the kids DVD cases out and put them in jewel cases I had just laying around. Huge difference in storage space. Also removed duplicate CDs and those that we’ll never listen to again. This weekend I tackle the pantry, kitchen cupboards and my bedroom dresser, which I cannot see the top of. My donate pile in the basement is huge.

    • says

      If I had multiple recipes on a page, I would probably photocopy the page so I could section out the recipes in a binder. But, I’m slow. If you can do the computer thing, do that. Less paper!

  10. says

    The recipe binder is CRITICAL in an age of internet print outs. Mine is a super utilitarian black binder with no frills, but I do it the same way (page protectors, sections) and I have a section in the front for “testing” which is recipes I’ve printed out that haven’t been made yet. If I make them and like them, they move into one of the established sections.

    We are purging books today. It’s painful but we are plugging away at it because we finally decided that what we are holding onto might be overkill.

    • says

      Thank you for saying what I didn’t want to say in the post: make your own. I don’t want to poo-poo a company for something that clearly some people find useful and lovely, but this is something you can make on your own and be better for it because it’s completely customized to your way of working. Like I mentioned in the post, this binder doesn’t have nearly the number of dividers I would like.

      I LOVE your idea of having a testing section. Smart.

  11. says

    I feel like a big copycat, but I’ve been meaning to deal with the recipes for ages, and I’m finally going to do it. I need a trip to Staples or someplace to get a box of document protectors (I’m sure I can dig an empty binder out of the basement), and then I’m going to purge the overstuffed accordion file I use currently. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who prints recipes out multiple times!

  12. Leigh says

    I am just so glad to see that someone else keeps Dixie plates stacked on top of “real” plates in their cabinet, too. I feel bad about it almost everyday, but life goes on. As for the recipes, I definitely need to tackle that stack of 100 Southern Livings that each have one or two recipes flagged. Why oh why do I keep the entire things?? (Answer: laziness) But I did clean out my closet yesterday. Woohoo!

  13. says

    I made a recipe binder last year, and it has helped tremendously. I find that despite a constant stack of found-on-the-internet recipes, I go back to a handful or two of favorites. Love the idea of a “test” section, too!

    • says

      Never! Truth be told, I haven’t used them because they are so stinkin’ cute. I don’t want to ruin them! I’m going to use them for my favorite recipes and put them in the protective sleeves.

      p.s. I knew you were going to comment on the elephant cards! :)

  14. says

    My questions is, what are the recipes that you print out over and over? I always seem to need irish soda bread, now, NOW, NOW!, and I have multiples. Purged the cook books last month, but my binder is hopeless and I’m not ready for some emotions that some hand-printed sheets bring up.

  15. says

    Hey- my recipes are in a black plastic binder with no rhyme or reason to their order, so the Deluxe Recipe Binder looks amazing! Having the sheet protectors over your recipes is such a brilliant idea.

  16. says

    If you know you are going to keep it, why not put a cover on that you like? You could use modge podge glue, or contact paper, or… Well, any number of things to make it lovely.

  17. says

    One thing I am learning as we move from week to week…so many of the projects we each have are universal challenges. I have a drawer of loose recipes that is on my list of projects and I have been looking for a recipe collection books just like that one!

  18. Carla says

    I love collecting recipes and very rarely follow them. I could probably chuck all the magazine clipping and internet prints I have shoved into folders, organized by season, and not even notice. This week I let go of emotional junk (not linking here as my recipe pile, jewelry pile, ect. remain) but I love this project and look forward to what everyone is up to.

  19. says

    Yes–I have done this myself in plain binders bought at Michael’s–because they’re a little prettier than the plain white ones I use for everything else, including teaching. So great to have everything in page protectors, although my recipes are not organized. Hmm. Perhaps the next step is to reorganize completely with notebook dividers.

  20. says

    I have a mental commitment to participate in this every week, and I tried to get a post up about finishing decluttering the garage, but we moved this week and it just didn’t happen. Next week!

  21. says

    I’m late to this party, but I still wanted to join in. A few years ago I organized all my recipes in a series of giant binders categorized by food type; favorites tend to find their way to the front due to frequency of use. I’ve also discovered a clothespin does a good job of pegging the recipe to the handles of my wall cabinets, allowing me to see the recipe without having to hunch down all the time.

    I shared a link to organizing the appliance cords in my kitchen; I found yet another way to justify the purchase of lovely japanese washi tape! =) Thanks for running this series; it’s so inspiring!

  22. Julie S says

    You can cover the non-you binder with a sheet or two of scrapbooking paper in a pattern you like! Sold by the page at Michael’s and similar places. Waterproof it by covering with clear contact paper. Or, you know, get creative and collage the cover if that’s your style (it is mine).

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