Most of us have recipes that have been handed down from our families, friends, and neighbors. You know, the ones that are jotted down either on a scratch piece of paper, or the recipe cards that say from the kitchen of: ______. Some of them we treasure, make frequently, and bring fond memories.
But others can cause us stress and clutter in our home. Lots of people hold onto the recipe just in case they might want to make it in the future, but something about it causes them not to make it. Sometimes we get stuck because it has a flavoring that you do not use in your kitchen, it just looks WAY too complicated, or the picture sucked us in by how good the food looked.
Then months go by and you have never made the recipe and probably never will. Whether it is a handed down recipe or just one that sounds super yummy, these loose recipes have a tendency to get misplaced and buried. The challenge is that, although one recipe or piece of paper by itself is no big deal, when you get lots of them together they get mixed in with other papers and they just become clutter.
I get it, life gets busy, recipes get buried and then forgotten, and the paper clutter keeps stacking up. We have all had things that we intended to do, like make a recipe, and then we get distracted and it just sits and becomes one more thing that you “need” to do when you have time. But the days just seem to fly by and soon it becomes a faint memory and just more clutter around the home.
However, what we can do is create an organizational system for your recipes so that you can confidently see what you have, and know where it is at. There are vast organizing options when it comes to recipes. But first they have to pass the 4 Question Test:
1) Have I actually made this meal?
2) If I have, would I make it again?
3) Is it a family member’s recipe that I want to keep?
4) How likely am I going to look for this specific recipe vs just looking online for an idea?
If they pass the 4 Question Test, here are some options to tame the recipe paper clutter and to organize them:
- I place the recipes that I have made and will make again and again in a sheet protector and then put them in a 3-ring binder with dividers to keep them clean, sorted, and protected. This allows me the most flexibility to add recipes to the binders as I try and like new ones.
- It has been 16 years since my mom passed away and I treasure her very unique handwriting. However at times it can be a bit difficult to read, so I typed up her recipes and then placed the original in the sheet protector behind the recipe. This allows me the ability to pull it out, touch her handwriting and reminisce when I want to. It also allows me to copy her handwriting for other family members that would appreciate having her unique handwriting.
- I place recipes that I have not tried in the front pocket of the 3-ring binder. They do not get a sheet protector until I have tried them and decided that they are worth keeping and will make again.
- In short, edit out the “they sound good” but have never made them recipes.
- For small recipes (like the ones you cut off the side of a box) I have taken a piece of copy paper and used a small piece of tape and taped the recipe to the paper so that I can get a few of them on one piece of paper.
- Sometimes recipe cards have writing on the back, so I will photocopy the back of the recipe and then cut it out and place it on a sheet next to the front of the recipe.
- If a recipe is in a magazine, rip the recipe out and then recycle the rest of the magazine.
- You can choose to scan them and organize them digitally.
- You can search and download apps to scan and store your recipes online, such as Recipe Keeper.
Whichever way you decide to organize them, creating an outline of categories is super helpful and helps you avoid making too many categories or changing the plan part way through the sorting and organizing. I use dividers to separate the types or sections. Here is a suggested outline to get you started:
- Main meat – Chicken, Beef, Pork, Fish/Seafood, Lamb, Soups
- Fruits, Vegetables, and Salads
- Breads – dinner rolls, sweet breads, muffins, noodles
- Cookies, Brownies, Cakes, Pies, Crisps and Cobblers
- Appetizers, Drinks, Sauces, Brines
Pro Tip: If you have cookbooks that you want to sort through, spend a rainy afternoon looking through the cookbooks. Do they have flags or markers on certain pages? If not consider:
- Donating the cookbooks you no longer want or need.
- There is a subscription site called Eat my Books that allows you to discover recipes in books you already own.
Looking for additional support in your decluttering journey? Visit cluttercutterswa.com to explore my home and paper organizing courses, packages, and support groups!