Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Recipe Conundrum

If your love for cooking and recipes is anything like mine (and I would venture to guess that for many of you it is), you have a recipe problem. Not a problem with the recipes per se but a problem with organizing the recipes in a way that they are usable. They are everywhere, in all kinds of formats, and they are driving me bananas.

Way back when I was in library school, I picked up a key phrase in the world of library and information science. It went something like this: information is only as usable as it is findable. I'm sure that the scholar who coined the phrase said it far more elegantly than that, but you get the idea. What's the point of having a bazillion recipes if, when you are making your grocery list for the week, you can't find the recipe you want?

At present, my recipes are in the following places:
  • in cookbooks - These are the easiest to find as they have indexes and are all together on a shelf. They subsequently get used the most.
  • in magazines - If the magazine in question is Everyday Food, then they are on the top shelf in chronological order going back to 2005. A print index is occasionally released, and I think there is an index on the website as well. If the magazine in question is any of the countless other magazines to which I subscribe, the recipes are likely still in the magazine with the corners bent over. They are then in a huge pile waiting for the day when I get a system figured out. On a side note, I find it hilarious that all of my January magazines want me to "get organized" when one of the areas in my life most needing organization is...figuring out what to do with my magazines.
  • in a folder on my hard drive - Those that I download from the Internet get saved in an aptly named "Recipes" folder. This does not mean I ever look at them again.
  • in a folder in my email - Those recipes that I receive by email often end up here. Per the above re: ever looking at them again.
  • in my allrecipes account - Those recipes that I save in allrecipes get saved in the "recipe box" feature.  The catch is remembering what recipes I saved there when I am looking for a recipe.
  • on my pinterest board - Again, there if I remember to look.
  • on sheets of paper in a folder on my shelf - These are generally recipes that I find online then print out or recipes that I photocopy from books I check out from the library. This collection may also include recipes clipped from magazines or recipes given to me by friends. To be filed into aforementioned desired system, of course.
  • on this blog - With a grand total of 33 entries at present, I can generally remember what recipes I've included here...for now.

Does anyone out there have this figured out? Or have any brilliant ideas?Anyone?


  1. I am so glad I am not the only person to have this problem. We have stacks and stacks of recipes laying all over the house...I can feel your pain. I decided when I discovered Pinterest to convert everything there and I have been semi-successful...its a work in progress for sure. When I get my cooking magazines each month I go through and rip out the ones I want to make and then go find them on-line and pin them. That's as far as I've gotten...still haven't pinned all the recipes pre-pinterest but at least the piles aren't growing! :-) Also, I took a very deep breath, closed my eyes and threw all my old cooking magazines (that I was saving for, what? all the recipes are on-line) in the recycling bin.

    1. It's funny, Maggie, but the simple thought of ripping the pages out rather than turning the corners and putting them off to the side is ridiculously liberating. So I think I'll start with that. I like pinterest but I haven't begun to harvest its full potential...this may be a place to start. Have you started reading your magazines on the iPad, or do you still read the print?

    2. Still read the print version...haven't converted yet because, well, I just like sitting down and flipping the pages! Glad to have helped, if even a little bit. The recipe conundrum is a biggie!

  2. I haven't really had this problem until recently... I think I might consider using Evernote (it is already a place that I keep recipes that I "clip" from different internet sources. I have also registered on but haven't moved anything there yet. I like it because it has a menu planning component, but it would be starting all the way over.

    Yeah, even as I type here I think Evernote (which could be used for lots of things) is the way I am going to go...

    1. I hadn't heard of Evernote, but I think I'll take a look at that. I'm a list person. It sounds appealing.