“My Favorite Recipes” Household Binder

by Melody on February 21, 2012

This recipe binder has been a project in the works for over a year.  My recipes were such a mess and I could never find the same recipe twice.  I had approximately one zillion recipes bookmarked online and until Pinterest came along, they were threatening to overload my computer.  I had stacks and stacks of cooking magazines with way too many dog-eared pages.  I still to this day can not find my favorite roast recipe and you try Googling “roast in the crockpot”.  Good luck.

My aunt made me a fantastic notebook when my husband and I got married with copies of all her favorite recipes (and she is a GOOD cook), which inspired me to make something similar.

I have seen several different methods of creating a recipe binder, but I wanted something that wasn’t going to take me hours and hours but would still be efficient.  I wasn’t going for cute here, just functional and effective.

I chose to separate my recipes in the following categories:

Main Dishes (Pasta, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Meatless)
Side Dishes

This was hard to narrow down.  I went back and forth on how to organize and separate my recipes, but ultimately, this is what worked for my style of cooking.  The two categories that I decided to leave out were “Kid-Friendly” and “Holidays”.  I tried to think of what my first search instinct would be for a recipe.  For example, I have a fun recipe for Macaroni & Cheese Muffin Cups that my kids love.  This could definitely be filed under “Kid-Friendly”, but I think my first instinct would be to look under “Pasta”.

Instead of photocopying or rewriting every recipe, I decided to keep them in their original format (printed, recipe cards, magazine pages, etc).  For full page recipes, I just slid them in sheet protectors.  For all the smaller recipes on cards or ripped out of a magazine, I taped them together on a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ printer paper and then slid it in a sheet protector.  This saved a lot of time as I didn’t have to rewrite anything and I could fit more on one piece of paper.

I chose to use sheet protectors to keep the recipes a little more protected.  Hopefully, this will keep the binder intact for a lot longer than if I had just left them as hole-punched sheets of paper.  I tend to splatter when I cook.  It seems the more comfortable I get with my cooking abilities, the messier I get.

I chose to only file by category the recipes that have been tried and tested.  I add any substitution or modification notes to each one and try to remember to throw in a note about when we used it.  I think it will be fun to look back in a few years and remember what I made for my husband’s birthday cake or for a certain Easter dinner.

For all the recipes that I want to try but haven’t gotten to yet, I have a labeled sheet protector for each category.  I cut out or print the recipe and throw it in the designated folder. My plan is to toss everything I haven’t made at the end of each year.  Or every six months, depending on how full the binder gets.

I’m in love with this binder for two reasons.  I love that the majority of my favorite recipes are in one easy-to-find place and that it is so easy to add to in the future.  I also love the idea that it will chronicle my cooking style and our family’s favorite creations throughout the years.

I would love to hear how you manage your recipes.  Do you have something similar to mine or have you come up with your own system?

While my binder is not a Samsill binder, they did send me some different styles to check out.  My favorite styles were their Biodegradable Binders and their Raw Binders, both made with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled material and both 100% recyclable.  For more information on Samsill binders, click here.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Arica February 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I love that you kept the recipes in their original state. Mine always bring back memories associated with that particular meal and perhaps a good friend or family member who gave that particular recipe to me. Kinda like a scrapbook.


Melody February 21, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I totally agree! It wouldn’t have felt quite the same if I rewrote them all, some are already splattered and torn and “loved”. This is about as scrapbook-y as I will ever get. 🙂


Suzanne February 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I had mine separated into large manila encelopes
Separated by categories, one for each
Envelope. Always hoping to make a family cookbook so this would be a good start. Thx


Karen February 22, 2012 at 6:48 am

One year in my Easter basket, my mom included a cookbook for me titled ” I writing my own Cookbook” It was nothing but blank pages. I have only my favorite recipes in it, however, they are in the order I put them in the book. Some are hand written, and some are just how I found them or received them. I wish I had them put into catagories like yours.

I also have a book case full of cookbooks. If I have a tried and true recipe, I use a post-it flag to mark the page and and make comments. It isn’t a sure fire way to find a recipe as I need to remember which cookbook it is in, but it does save some time. I also notate on a recipe if we didn’t like it also. Saves me time from making it again, when I am looking for something different to make.


Melody February 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I have a total cookbook addiction. I love the pictures and LOVE to dog-ear recipes, but then can never remember where I found a certain recipe. My plan is to create some kind of index, separated by the categories of my binder. If we try a recipe from a cookbook and love it, I’ll add it quickly to the index with the name of cookbook and page. That shouldn’t add too much work and (hopefully) will make things easier!


Mari Moffitt March 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

I also have an addiction for recipes. I have purchased a program called Matilda. (www.cookingpeople.com Two years aga I went through all my recipes and entered them into this program. It was smart, easy and always within reach for me to find THE recipe. Try it.


Valerie July 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

For my computer edition of recipes, I finally decided the best way was to have a folder with separate documents for each recipe. One folder for Tried and Trues and another one for Recipes to Try that I copy-paste into complete with their picture from the internet, again 1 recipe per document. Then when I want to find a recipe that uses up broccoli or whatever ingredient, I can just type it in the search window of that folder and all the recipes with that word in the document come up. Or search by recipe name, etc. This method also makes it easy to email a recipe to people who ask for them. Plus I have all the space in the world to make comments and notations.

My notebook version is similar to the one you describe. No fuss, no muss, just functional, versatile and practical. Any on the computer can be printed easily and added, those on 4×6 cards or magazine clipped, throw ’em in. Love it.


Mandy December 1, 2013 at 10:03 am

I just did the same thing last year! I have two binders that are organized just like yours: 1 for beloved and tried recipes, and 1 for recipes not yet to be tried. Each new recipe is rated by the family, and if it’s lower than a 7/10, it gets recycled. Anything with a score of 8+ goes in our favorites binder. Cookbooks threw me for a loop, but I found a system that works. I put a sticky note on each tried recipe in a cookbook with its score. If it scored 8+, I scan and print a copy to put in our favorites binder too. That way if I have the ingredients for a food, like beef, I can find all my favorite beef recipes at once.


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