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How do you organize magazine recipes?

Help! I have stacks of cooking magazines with only a few pages folded over in each one.
I'd love to tear the pages out and keep them organized in a recipe-file-type system, so i don't have to keep all of the magazines. I'm looking for more of a book/album - not a recipe box.
Anyone have a good organizer or system they recommend?

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  1. I took a large stack of food mags, clippings and recipe cards and brought them to Staples. For 20.00 they color copied and laminated the entire collection. For 5.00 more I bought a folder with plastic sleeves and inserted each laminated recipe. Works like a charm!

    1. I recently did this!

      I purchased a binder, made categories that made sense to me, ripped the recipes out of the magazines, put the recipes in plastic sleeves and filed accordingly.

      Now, the trouble I foresee is remembering where a certain recipe is: online, in a cookbook, or in the newly created binder. If anyone can help with this . . .

      Good luck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: marthadumptruck

        M..how about creating an Index page?!

      2. Inexpensive photo albums with peel and stick pages are your best friend. Because the entire page is sticky, you can put as many oddly shaped cut-out recipes as will fit, as opposed to the photo albums with "pockets" that limit the size of the recipes you can put in.

        You can organize the album using stick-on tabs from the office supply store or just get a separate album for each category (if you have a LOT of recipes!).

        Good luck!

        1. Interesting. I did not go with the sticky back method because the glue expires over time, can ruin an original. I was looking to streamline my "recipe stack" - not just re-create a prettier one. Good luck.

          1. i also bought a binder, protector sheets, and dividers.

            works great!

            remembering which recipe is online or in your book? hmm.. you could make index pages and include all your recipes and note "online" next to the ones are aren't in the cookbook .seems like a pain though... hehe

            2 Replies
            1. re: junglekitte

              I did the same thing except with multi binders, on for each food grouping. I went through all the magazines, ripped out recipes that I liked, recycled the magazines and organized everything into categories.

              With my recent magazines, I have flagged the recipes I want and am taking them to photocopy to that I can then donate the magazines to a hospital or something.

              1. re: junglekitte

                I do the same thing with the protector sheets and dividers. I like being able to take out the page that I am using and clipping it to the rack above my counter. I print out recipes I have tested and liked "online" and put them in the book as well. Don't forget to save pictures.

              2. I use a classic 3-ring binder with ruled notebook paper. I tape the recipes to the page, which then has space to write notes. I find it easy to remove pages and put them on the refrigerator when I'm cooking, or even to toss recipes if I've tried them once and vow never to use them again. I use dividers to create categories(appetizers, soups, etc.) and have a separate binder just for desserts, also divided into categories.

                2 Replies
                1. re: susan1353

                  This is exactly what I do as well. I also use a three-hole punch to file recipes that I've printed off the computer (such as those I get online).

                  And when one fills up, I start another one. That way, I find that I can usually remember where something is filed based on "when" I discovered it.

                  1. re: susan1353

                    I do this as well... i think i took about 7 years worth of Bon appetite's into one small binder. I divide them into categories including by types of meats. I enjoy that I can write my notes next to them, also in case the recipe continues on the back side, I only tape half of the recipe down so I can flip it over. I also have a running index in the front, so when I add a new recipe, I add it to the index.

                    I also only do this once every few years so it is just a one day project of diving into it. I also have found that I look through the whole magazine again to see if there is anything I missed the first time. but for some of the mags that I like most, I keep the whole thing, such as the thanksgiving issue or the restaurant issue.

                  2. How about keeping them in your computer and storing them in one folder. That way you can use Google Desktop to search them based on the ingredients you have in the house. It can pull out recipes that match your ingredient list (if you spell them the same way as the recipe!).

                    I don't do this, but you should!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tasty Tater

                      This is what I'd do, scanning in batches to PDFs. First I might try searching the title to see if that was already available online, download to my computer and save as an HTML file. Google Desktop can find words in both, quickly. If you wanted a hard copy, you could also just print those out as needed.

                    2. Primitive I admit. I've never liked cooking magazines, so storage of those is not a problem. But of course, these days I am printing a few recipes a week off the computer.

                      I must own a couple of hundred cookbooks. So far, I've been able to keep track of recipes by sticking them into the cookbook they seem most related to: Jewish recipes in Jewish cookbooks, Desserts in dessert cookbooks, etc.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: niki rothman

                        I used to do this, but I trashed my 30-yr. old copy of Evelyn Rose's "The Complete International Jewish Cookbook" by placing stacks of holiday recipes throughout the book.

                        I now use the 3-ring binder with dividers that have a pocket, as well as a mix of sheet protectors and sticky pages, which work particularly well for holidays. I set up separate sections for Pesach, Channukah, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, etc. Also a section for dairy main dishes, although most of them would fit under "Pasta" as well.
                        Actually this is mostly in theory. I only sporadically actually put recipes in their proper spots. Argh!

                      2. After trying all sorts of things I finally organized all the scraps, bits, and sheets by creating a number of regular file folders with labels that, as has been said above, made sense to me. Then I arranged all the items accordingly. One of the things that this project involves is thinking through your categories so that you can have as many files as you need without having too many. If I had a page with more than one recipe on it I copied it or simply cut them apart and then filed them separately.

                        1. I cut them out and paste or tape them in a spiral-bound ruled paper notebook, but by category, starting with appetizers, salad, soup, vegies dishes, fish dishes, pasta, poultry, beef, lamb, pork and then desserts. Place the initial recipe for that category like 10 pages from the last one, and repeat the sequence if your notebook has tons of pages. That way there is some organization to it, and you have room to write notes.

                          1. I tried a number of the above and the only one that seems to work for me is I bought those basic black and white composition books. I cut out recipes I want to save, and gluestick them into the comp. books.

                            1. I'm just in the process of working on this, and I think I am going to keep untried recipes in a separate file that I can flip through when I want something new. This will cut down on filing and cut down on the number of recipes I have to hunt through to find the ones I really use.

                              Once I've tried a recipe and decided it's a keeper, I'll put it into my ring binder inside plastic sleeves (a system I adopted partly because we made the switch at work a year or two ago from overhead projector to powerpoint, and I have a whole bunch of plastic sleeves available to use now at no cost).

                              1. I used to tear out pages and use the indexed binder/plastic sheet covers or taped to paper style of organization only to wish later I had not destroyed the magazine and thrown it out because I will recall seeing it in one of my cooking mags
                                Call me wierd, I relook at my food mags over and over again when I am searching for a particular recipe of a dish I want to cook.
                                Since I can't just follow a recipe without adding my own spin, I often combine recipes as well. I find great peace in reviewing my library of cookbooks, and mags that are all arranged on bookshelves in my own personal easy to find, way. I think it is called the "Lucy" system. It works for me. i have such a great collection I rarely buy new cooking magazines anymore.

                                1. I guess this wouldn't be practical for those who have hundreds of recipes, but once I've tried something and decide it's a keeper, I create a Word document, then punch holes and file in a three-ring binder organized by types of dishes. I insert the source at the top of the recipe and use a font that's large and plain so it's easy to glance at the recipe as I'm working--so many magazine recipes are printed in small fonts that are hard to read, or are set up in two columns or on two pages, and by doing my own version, I can organize it in a more useable fashion, also adding my own "editorial" comments as I type. They're all saved on my computer, and can be easily re-printed when the original gets splashed with grease or whatever (I don't bother with plastic) or when someone requests the recipe.

                                  1. Anne H
                                    thanks for the idea of filing the ones actually cooked apart from the futures - a perfect division for the overflowing file. Mercifully most new stuff is coming in on the computer, where it can be burned on to CD. Love that.

                                    For clippings, I use a smallish plastic accordian-style file case with lots of categories. I'm often at cross purposes as to whether something should go in by it's main ingredient or ethnicity...and then there are those mixed pages where you have to decide if the side dish is why you're keeping it, or the equally fabulous main. I'm *not* copying these pages!

                                    HillJ, I didn't know that about Staples and getting a book made -- great idea for the Keepers!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pitu

                                      Pitu-I learned a few new tips on this thread myself!

                                    2. I too had a huge stack of cut out recipes I had been saving for years. I could never find what i needed, so, I purchased a 3 inch binder and a box of plastic sleeves with the holes in them to fit in the book. Me and my daughters spent an entire afternoon organizing the recipes into catorgories and slipping them into the sleeves and than placing them in the book. I can't believe it took me so long to do this, now when I need a recipe I know just where to find it.

                                      1. I had stacks of recipe and food article clippings that had been accumulating since the 1970s. A couple years ago I scanned them and used OCR software to convert all them into text files. I also scanned the original photos and other graphics that had accompanied the clippings. Then I converted the text files into Wordperfect documents with the graphics. I put them all into a computer folder called Recipes and separated them into sub folders according to category. The WP software automatically created an index. I ended up with an indexed and searchable data file with my entire 3-decade-long recipe collection. All this was done gradually over a 2-month period. But well worth the time.

                                        I don't use MS Word but I would suppose you could accomplish the same thing with it.

                                        I printed out about 30 of my most frequently used recipes from the collection and put those into a 3-ring binder which is kept alonside the cookbooks I own.

                                        1. They get shoved into the very messy binder (untried) or the very messy school assignment folder (tried & true).

                                          I tried to keep my cookbooks in a bookcase in the kitchen, but am always pulling them out to read on the couch, while eating dinner, in a cafe, next to my bed, etc.

                                          Also I keep a small notebook that fits in my purse for when new recipe inspiration strikes, or to jot random info (bisquick equivalent, # of dried shiitakes to an ounce) or to copy down some recipe in a bookstore when I don't want the entire book. These get checked off, crossed off, or modified as I get around to making them. Current page headers: soups, sides & dips, pasta/polenta/main, meat, desserts, to try from (3 different cookbook names), more pasta ideas, veg dishes cold, starch sides warm, to find uses for, meat dishes, unloved condiments & leftovers, routine ingredients to keep on hand, veg sides hot, lilikoi curd. whew!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Louise

                                            Another idea, that I don't think I've seen yet, is to find a beautiful picture on the Internet of the food/dishes/topic that is in the book, print it out, and glue/adhere to the front of the book, instead of, maybe, just a title on the front. Also gives you an instant idea of what's in there. : )

                                          2. I do this with internet recipes: I got a very large scrapbook cover and bought clear slip sheets that are three hole punched on the side. I put tabs by type of food in to the binder. I put any internet recipe I want to make again into a slipsheet and behind the appropriate tab. It actually looked very nice until I spilled clarified butter all over the fabric cover.

                                            It's my go to resources when I need to put a shopping list together quickly for the entire week.

                                            1. I see this is old, but I am responding for those like me who are still searching for info like this. I think I am going to try the three ring binder system, but still need to figure out how to keep the trys vs the tried separate...because most are not tried! Maybe I will need two binders. Once I have tried, I think entering it on the computer to print out will work great, but could be more time consuming than just attaching it to the lined paper. hmmmm...Something I thought of while reading all of this was to cut out the picture of the food and keep it with the recipe so you can attach that in the binder too. What should I do with my recipes I have in my cute recipe box??!!! These are the ones I use the most. By the way...I much perfer looking at recipes on paper than keeping them all in the computer.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lululovesu

                                                I've changed to having two binders now as well... I used to have one binder with everything in it and I would make notations next to the title of what I've tried, "delicious, etc" but it got too big and too confusing. So now I have a separate binder for only tried and true recipes. I move it over after trying it and now can have an easy go to file of something I KNOW will be yummy! Anything I've tried that wasn't that great I throw in the bin! :)

                                              2. I usually read mags and go to the computer to print them out. usually the recipes will be published online and are easily printable. I will add comments from reviewers and pictures within the same page of the recipe.

                                                I put the "To try" recipes stuck on the fridge door (not for neat freaks) and when i'm cooking/ shopping i grab the recipe and use it as a list. highly recommend getting big strong magnets online/lab supply stores.

                                                Once it has been cooked, I would write notes and review on the paper and eventually file it in the plastic sheet protector in a "sweets" and "savory" binder.

                                                the problem with this system is that i still end up with all these magazines laying around.... i don't really want to clip because i don't like irregular pieces of paper in my binder = uneven folder.

                                                1. I'm replying to this even though it's an old post, because it's been brought up to the top again, and because I'm in the process of organizing my magazines this year. I say this year because I think it's going to take me a year (probably two) to go through them all. I have 10 to 12 years of BA, Gourmet, and Food & Wine, plus Saveur, Fine Cooking, and a smattering of others. I have found over the years that the way I search for recipes is by month. In other words, if it's May, I'm looking in my May issues for ideas. My magazines are so very out of hand, so I decided I needed to trim them down and throw out what I don't want. So here's what I am doing.

                                                  I start with four basic tools: a plastic utility knife type of instrument which uses a razor blade, a red felt pen, a box of small paper clips, and a box of large paper clips. I use the blade to cut out the pages I want. I start with the recipe index page for one magazine, then I read through the magazine, cutting out any page with the recipes I want, plus the page with the photo, if available. I use the small paper clips to clip the photo page to the recipe page if they're different sheets. I use the red felt pen to circle on the index page the name of the recipe which I've cut out. I do this for the entire magazine. When I'm done with that magazine, I put a large paper clip on the whole set I've cut out for that issue, then file that bundle in a file folder marked "May" in a hanging folder in a banker's box, and throw away the rest of the magazine.

                                                  Then when I actually prepare a recipe, I make a mark right on the index page next to the recipe name some indication of a grade, if you will - A or B, or if I don't want to make it again, I cross it out.

                                                  I find this system to be very useful. I might not care whether I make beef or chicken, but I know I want to grill, so I'll pull out the recipes from July through September (when I get to them). Or if it's Thanksgiving, I can pull out the November files.

                                                  I find that doing this process this year is giving me a lot of ideas, because I'm only doing the issues for the current month - right now I'm only doing May issues. So actually, I'm pretty sure the process will take me two years, because the most I've managed to get through is all of my F&W and half of my BA for any month so far this year. I decided to be consistent and at least get through all of F&W so that I can definitely have one shelf cleared off by the end of the year.

                                                  So far it's working. It is definitely not beautiful or techologically savvy, but it does fit my recipe search thought process.

                                                  1. jfood has two methods:

                                                    1 - For the on-line magazines he reformats in word and has several recipe word dox separated into categories like beef, chicken, fish. The each one of those files has sub-categories like grilled, braised, etc.
                                                    2 - For the paper magazine ones, very few at this point since most have on-line access, he scans them and stores a digital copy. After collecting 20+ years of Gourmets and Bon Appetites, he just could not store all the boxes any longer. If he can not scan, he makes a copy and types them into files in "1" above while he sits in the plane or hotel.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      I use a similar approach - and I keep an Excel Spreadsheet as a master index, with as many category columns as needed (course, main ingredient, rating, etc.) and a link to the recipe itself. It's easy to pull up the spreadsheet and isolate the recipes I'm interested in quickly by filtering the columns, clicking on the link, and printing the recipe (which I annotate with mods, suggestions, etc.). That way I can keep all the recipes in one doc folder, and use the spreadsheet to categorize, select, etc.

                                                      You just need to remember to keep the spreadsheet updated. :)

                                                      1. re: Striver

                                                        Try the Table of Contents feature in Word. You change each recipe to a heading then you have the TOC as the first few pages. Then you look through the TOC and when you see something you click on the title and it takes you to the recipe page. very cool.

                                                        Then jfood keeps his notes in each recipe. And when he makes it he changes the heading on the recipe itself to Italics so when he scans the TOC he can see which are tried and which are to be tried.

                                                    2. I normally just had them in my recipe box, some old index cards, some mag recipes, some just hand written.

                                                      A couple of years ago I started scanning mine. Also created a simple page with a notes section on the bottom and a date section so I know when I tried it. I now scan in the magazine article or recipe and just print it on my template I made. For me it is easy and quick. I keep them all in a binder with simple tabs This way I don't have to rely on the computer or worry about loosing folders. I used to tape some to paper and then the tape dried out. The glue on the sticky photo albums tend to dry and then ruin the original. But we all have out favorite ways. But just a simple tabbed systems is fine for me. I have main dishes which is divided into poulty, beef, etc ... There are always overlaps but you can only do so much. Should my chicken dish go under chicken or pasta, and I also use the chicken over rice too.

                                                      1. As stated on here before, I keep mine in binders by degree of how likely I am to use them. I keep two seperate binders, one for Tried and True Where to Find it, and another for Gotta Try Where To Find It. Lists which binders/cookbooks/online/whever place those recipes are. Mostly likely to try recipes are tabbed as Silver, less likely but almost made it Gold, and for those I can't throw away but don't make it to one or two, Bronze. Works like a charm for me - I'm the one who wants things in my hands as well as on the computer.

                                                        1. Archeologically. I throw them all in the capacious bottom drawer of my sideboard, and when I want one I start digging. This often brings up serendipitous finds that are even better that what I thought I was looking for! And for the record, these days a lot more quick Internet printouts (many from Chowhound) go in there than actual magazine pages.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            I lost connection due to a hurricane 3 years ago and diggin in the road to replace cables and a hard drive problem. Well 1 month without internet, all my phone numbers, all my contact and schedule ...

                                                            Nothing is on the computer that way anymore. I use good ol fashioned hard copies. But also have some stuff on the pc. Amazing how much we rely on it and when it isn't available ... what do we do?

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              BB - that's one great pleasure I get out of not carefully arranging my recipes in their binders - I'll come across one and it'll be - oh yeah, I want to cook that now!

                                                            2. Instead of keeping them in a paper format, you could always scan them into a recipe box you create online. This way, you will know they are ALL online. I notice in many sites that I search such as Pillsberry, General Foods, Martha Stewart, Food Network, etc., many of them have options to send the recipe to your own recipe file. Now if you don't own a scanner or a copier that scans, this would be an investment. But if you're like me and you do a great deal of online searching, or have a very large number of magazine recipes, it may be worth it. I have an Epson printer that is also a copier and a scanner. Bet investment I've ever made in the computer world. Mine is the 6600 but I believe they now have more current models with new numbers. In fact, the last several printers I've owned have been Epson. I have bought them for every computer I"ve ever purchased for any of my businesses. Been extremely happy. So.....this is a alternative suggestion to keeping tons of papers and notebooks. This is a system that should last you for MANY years to come.

                                                              1. Also just ran across http://scanmyrecipes.com/ (an advertiser at a site called Key Ingredient). I've heard about services that will scan your family photos similarly ... and I might opt for this kind of thing but only if I'd already made rough photocopies of the recipes just in case. The nice thing is that they'd be digitized too, when you got them back.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Cinnamon

                                                                  For a recipes and menu filing I just got some mini sheet protectors and binders from a web site named keepfiling.com they had the best prices. This binder is not too big for the kitchen counter top only about 9 x 6 when closed and 9 x 12 when fully open. This binder is also made in plastic so it is easy to clean off with a damp cloth the same for the recipes filed in the sheet protectors. Here is a link if you are interested:

                                                                2. so far I have not found a really easy way. I have Cook'n software (which I haven't started to use.) I did get into the binder/sleeves etc....and Word (then to a CD) it depends on what is easy for you

                                                                  1. I keep all my recipes in an old-fashioned three ring binder. I've recently moved into two binders (frequently used and hardly ever used but not throwing out, but the system is exactly the same for each binder)

                                                                    Here's the system:

                                                                    Put all the recipes on a piece of paper, So if they start on the computer, print them out. If they're in a magazine cut them out. If they're in a book, copy them either by hand of use a photocopier or scanner.

                                                                    Put each recipe in a plastic sleeve protector.

                                                                    Get some dividers for your binder and set up categories that make sense to you. For example: APPETIZERS, BEEF, POULTRY, SOUPS, DESSERTS, SEAFOOD, etc.

                                                                    Take each recipe in its sleeve and file under the appropriate category.

                                                                    When cooking, leave the recipe in its sleeve, in the binder. The binder can lay flat on the counter or be propped up.

                                                                    It's a very simple system but it works.