{Food and Gardening} Creating a recipe binder

I have a secret to share with you. I am a recipe collector. I don’t hoard them, there are many times I freely recycle the paper a recipe is printed on. However I have more than I’ve actually tried making. Shamefully I have spent as much time reading recipes as I have following them. Finally my collection had started to grow out of control. The recipe book I had used for a long time became so wore out that the binding gave way before half the book was filled. The collection of random index cards and odds-n-ends pages was to much to shuffle through. Something had to be done and the answer was a recipe binder. There are many ways to approach this project. Here is what I did.

First choose a binder that will work for your needs. I am using a three inch, but I have a lot of recipes to transfer. The binders by the company Guided are wonderful. They are easy to take apart with the removal of two screws. Then you can recycle both the cardboard cover and the metal binder rings.

Use dividers to help you find things. Label you sections with categories that work best for you. Use a folder that fits in your binder to hold pages that don’t work with your divider categories. I decided to divide my binder into seasonal sections with a fifth section for year round recipes. These sections then get subdivided into main ingredient and style of dish prepared.

Get some great paper that you will enjoy writing on. I’m using the sugarcane printer paper from ecopaper. I like this paper because it is bright and easy to read. It’s easy to make copies of your recipes and share them. Ecopaper has some other great stock that includes fun food fibers like mango and banana. Also consider using some clear sleaves if you save magazine and newspaper recipes.

If you aren’t the type of person to collect recipes but would rather write about your food experiments try keeping a food journal. You can track what you make and keep a running food budget using a kitchen journal and I use one with my new binder.

This is a big project but I’m looking forward to it. It will take some time to go through all these recipes, but this time I will try them out before keeping them. Here is what some of the eco etsy team have to say about how they keep track of their recipes.

“I have discovered my recipe book for iPad and love love love it.  You can search for new recipes on popular sites like foodnetwork and epicurious, and the recipes import automatically.  You can also copy and paste from websites not on the list of compatible sites.  What I really love is being able to edit the categories and hand-enter my own recipes.  I even have a category for home remedies and kitchen crafts for my kiddies, like homemade play dough and paint.  I know that’s not what you had in mind, as far as a binder goes, but i thought it was worth mentioning.”

Tiffany of picnic basket crafts

“I use an old photo binder (the kind with peel away clear sheets) for my recipes. I do find myself using it less and using recipe apps more, but I still love to get hand me down magazines and cut out their recipes. Sometimes friends give me paper versions too, and I put everything into my recipe binder. When I try something and don’t like it I just pull it out of the binder. When I change what the recipe called for, I make little notes on the pages. I would love some ideas on organizing it. I have it divided into four sections: main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and fun food activities (for parties, holidays and the kids).  For dividers I just use pages full of useful tips, like a ratio conversion chart or a wine pairing chart I pulled out of a magazine.”
Bee of the wooden bee
“I made a recipe binder to give as a gift at a wedding shower and also keep one for myself; I use the following categories:
10 Minute Meals – Organized by Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner  – I always keep this one on top
30 Minute Meals – Organized by Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – This one is second
Main Course
Easy Desserts
Fancy Desserts
I have some personal recipes that I’ve written out on 4×6 cards and a lot of recipes that are pulled from magazines. I use those photo divider sheets and a regular binder.  For the bridal shower, I covered the binder in fancy fabric and embellished it. I also added a few sheet and a categories called “Epic Fail” with instructions to place recipes she has tried and couldn’t get right.I also included star stickers so she could use it to mark favorites on a scale of 1-5 star and the colors of the stars would mark level of difficulty.  So red stars are more time consuming/difficult where green stars are for easy and yellow are for not that bad to make.

I’m a total foodie so this was a fun gift to put together and mine isn’t always as organized but I try.”

Myra of Herbanlux

“Hey there. I’ve been lurking in the group for a while, (waiting to get my hip replaced tomorrow & then I will again have a clearer head to focus on art & selling once again)… but I wanted to reply because I am crazy about my recipe collectoin.  I have cookbooks, and binders with ones I’ve printed off the internet or from magazines & used to have many stored on Mastercook on my computer (need to upgrade the version because now my recipes are unobtainable until I do – back up & print outs are so important!).
If I were to have one binder, I’d have the typical choices: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Appetizers, Salads, Vegetables, Soups, Breads. I keep a mix of vegetarian & meat dishes, I don’t bother separating them.
I do measure most of the time when it comes to baking, not so much when it comes to other cooking. One thing that I do is write in my cookbooks & make notes – I think it’s important to remember things like “add more salt” or “never make this again” or “family favorite”.
Well, that’s my 2 cents worth.”

Tammy of Tamdoll

“I’m a recipe clipper from magazines, so I have a few binders full of them.  I put them in plastic sleeves and organize them by season and then by course and/or ingredient.  I try to eat what’s in season, so I love to be able to flip through light fresh foods in the summer and heavy rich ones in the fall.  I also tend to have certain foods in the fridge, so I like to look up recipes by ingredient such as “eggs”,  “chicken”  or “fish”.  I’ve also been known to create categories for ethnic foods…helps when I have a craving.  :)My newest find has been the Mealboard app for my phone.  It’s a great way to meal plan and once you’ve entered your recipes it will auto generate a shopping list.  I usually plan my meals for the week on Sunday and hit the market Monday AM.  I generate my list and then cross off the things I already have in my kitchen…what’s left is my list.  Super fast.  The time consuming part is entering all the ingredients for each recipe, but I just add a few at a time and keep building it as I go.”

Cindi Brooks  of The Brass Paperclip Project

What are your best recipe collection tips? Do you prefer to cook measure free?

Hope you enjoyed


PS Thank you to Brad at Guided and Harry at Ecopaper for making this project and article a possibility.

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  1. Maggie Garman says:

    I do this with free knitting patterns, we have had a lot of great-grand kids and these offer lots of patterns to make. I also do lace knitting just to sharper with my thinking.

  2. Nice binder. I will have to try that myself :)

    • I love the rebinder from guided. It is so nice to know that when this one finally bites the dust I can disassemble it and recycle the components.
      Have fun making one.

  3. Great Post!! I constantly save magazine recipes (often tearing them from magazines in waiting rooms;) and I have a ton of old recipes from my grandmother!! Now I’ll be able to organize them without feeling like I have to spend more money to do so:) Always a good feeling.

    Cheers to a great article Beth!!