March 27, 2015

Organizing Recipes with Linn

I would like to welcome Linn from A Place For Everything as a contributor to An Organized Family. Linn is a good friend of mine who shares my passion for organization.  She has some great ideas and I am so happy she has agreed to share them with us.

Hello there, I am Linn Allen and I am excited and honored that Amanda would ask me to be a contributor on her blog!

So, this particular idea is a pretty simple one, but in all of the organization seminars I have given, I have been surprised at how few people have given more than just a little thought to how they organize and keep their favorite recipes. And additionally, I can’t tell you the number of times I have shared this idea and afterwards, had those attending my seminars come up and mention that they feel a new sense of freedom knowing they don’t have to keep all of the recipe books they currently own. They share that they seldom use them and feel a bit of stress every time they see them, feeling like they should be using them. If recipe books are your thing, go for it! Keep them and enjoy. But if you are someone that doesn’t operate that way, here is an idea that may be of help to you.
I truly do enjoy cooking. Now don’t get me wrong, I have not made dinner every single night in 16 ½ years of marriage, but for the most part, I try hard to have something made for my family most nights of the week because I truly do like to cook.
Nevertheless, I have a confession. I don’t own a single cookbook.

For a few years, I had a large basic cookbook that would tell at what temperature to cook a roast or remind me how to make asparagus correctly if I forgot, but with the internet these days, I was even able to get rid of that.
So what do I use instead?

Funny you should ask.

I’m a big fan of white binders. (If you know me in person, have been to any of my seminars or read my organization blog, you figure that out pretty quickly.) And recipes are no exception. All of the recipes I have are in one white binder that I have complied myself. (And apparently I haven’t changed the cover in quite a while. Looks like a new little project I need to get to.)

Now there is obviously not only one correct way to put together a recipe binder, but I will tell you what I do, just in case you are looking for some ideas or guidance.

All of the recipes in my binder I have used myself and, except for a few special holiday recipes, I use on a regular rotation. I personally love putting my recipes in a binder because not only does it look lovely and organized, but it causes me to type each of them up and that is a fabulous way to have an additional copy (on my computer) of all of my recipes.
I list one recipe per page (my personal preference) and categorize them into sections that make sense to me (appetizers, breads, cookies, desserts, main dishes, side dishes, soup, etc.) Each recipe is put in a plastic sheet cover, not only because it makes them look organized and calms my OCD heart, but because when I am cooking, if I spill something on a particular page, it is more than easy to wipe it off.

And what do I do with a new recipe that I don’t know if I want to have in my rotation or make the effort to type it up and put it in my binder?

Great question.

When I find, ask for, or receive a new recipe, I slip it into the front pocket of my recipe binder. I often have at least 10 or 12 recipes together in that front pocket. And there they stay until I know it is something our family will like and that I will use often. After trying it a time or two, if I find I love it, I type it up and add it to its appropriate category. If it isn’t a favorite, it makes its way to the trash.

From my own personal experience and from talking to many people (excluding professional chefs who try new things constantly), I have found that for the most part, people use what they love over and over. To the majority of people I know, they feel like their numerous recipe books are a waste because they hardly use them or use the same group of recipes repeatedly. Nevertheless and again, if you use and love your cookbooks, definitely keep them. But if they just happen to be something that takes up space in your house, without frequent use, the above idea may be something you consider implementing.
Some additional thoughts:
  • Compiling all of your recipes may take some time, so go easy on yourself. Choose one category to start with and focus only on gathering recipes in that area until it is completed to your satisfaction. Then move on to the next category.
  • Set a goal to look through your recipe book once a year to see if all of the recipes are still being made and enjoyed. Get rid of those that you initially loved, but later found out were not used as often as you thought.
  • Email your friends once or twice a year and ask them for their favorite recipe in the last six months. This is a great way to get the best recipes out there.

What I Love About This:

I love that she not only keeps this simple and easy to do, but she gives you permission to purge!  Why keep things around that you don't really use anyway?  Thanks Lynn!

My name is Linn Allen and my OCD self writes about my love of organization at A Place For Everything. But first and always, I am a proud wife and grateful mom (six times over). Then I am a nonstop reader, unhurried runner, passionate organizer, relentless picture taker, zealous blogger and perpetual memory maker. Oh, and I’m also pathetically addicted to chapstick.


  1. Thanks again for having me guest post Amanda! It means a lot and I truly enjoy looking at your blog and all of your great idea!


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