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Recipe Overload

Like most of you, I'm feeling overwhelmed with recipes! From cooking magazines, Chow, other web sites, cookbooks (that are ever creeping into my shelf from bookstores and friends), and finally recipes that are already in my recipe box.

How do you keep up? Short of making a huge feast every single day, I don't know how to keep up with all the recipes I want to try out, not to mention going back to solid recipes that I've already made.

Help for a young-ish cook! (I can only imagine what will happen after 10, 20, 40 more years of this!)

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  1. Keep up??? There's no keeping up, who said anything about keeping up??? (hee, just kidding)...Personally, I've flat-out stopped acquiring cookbooks since about 2 or 3 years ago. The rest is still out of control, though...so there really isn't any keeping up for me, anyway. I do feel better if I can actually TRY a few new recipes each month, though.

    1. i stopped clipping recipes years ago. all the little bits of paper became too unwieldy, even after i'd pasted them in notebooks. nearly everything is on-line now and a quick search and copy to a specific folder keeps decent order. i donated a huge surplus of cookbooks a few years ago to charity, after copying my tried and true to my pc.

      but seriously, it's just dinner! don't stress, lol.

      1. I have a large binder with sheet protector pages in it. When I find a recipe that I think we'll like I cut it out and put it in the protector sheet. When I make the recipe, I make notes on what was good, and what needs to change and stick it next to the origianl. When I have it perfected I put a checkmark on it, or, if I have made many changes, I rewrite it and toss out the original. I have done this for years, and have 2 daughters who are already arguing over who will get it when I'm gone! Guess I'm going to have to make 2! I do recommend that you get a heavy duty binder. Mine is in terrible shape and I need to replace it. I really need to get another as this one is stuffed!

        4 Replies
        1. re: danhole

          I just started my own binder as a means to organize the ziploc bag'o clippings that was taking over my kitchen. It's nice because with the plastic sheet protectors, I can slip a page out and take to the kitchen and prepare without ruining the piece of paper that the recipe is on. I found to that many of the recipes I'd clipped a year or two ago I'd never tried. So, I really only keep those reciped around that are practical for daily use. Self-editting is a must. So, a recipe for some extravagant item that is time and ingredient expensive is not something I'll keep around....I'll likely never use it.

          1. re: danhole

            Maybe it's time to take The Binder online? An coworker (who is a generation older than I) shared a recipe by emailing it to me and returned the favor by giving her a handwritten copy of one of my favorites, she exclaimed "Oh! Aren't all your recipes on your computer??"

            1. re: laurendlewis

              Yes....but I spend so much time on the computer (as a grad student) that there's something soothing in the whole cut-and-paste-arts-and crafts-activity of my binder. But yes, my mother, in her fifties, has her stuff online.....more advanced than me.

              1. re: ashes

                I've been working on putting my family cookbook together and going through my great grandma's enormous collection of recipes. I love seeing her handwriting on the recipe cards, and I love seeing her recipes that she cut out of the newspaper and carefully taped in her countless books. It's not quite the same when you look at my countless print outs from the internet or Microsoft Word! I was thinking about that the other day... no one will look at my Food Network printouts someday and get tears in their eyes thinking about me, so I've decided to write down more of my recipes, if not for me, then for future generations.

          2. I'm never going to cook all the recipes from all the books that fill my bookshelf. So to cope I decided to cook every recipe from one book and see where that gets me. It's been nine years, and I'm 75% of the way through Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. I have a ton of tamales left to make. I cook these recipes when I get inspired to entertain, and go to other sources the rest of the time. I make a yearly trip to the restaurant to see if I'm close to the mark.

            1. Oh lauren, I only wish I could be your age and go back and start over again. I've got a collection of cookbooks that I rarely look at. I have clippings, printouts, you name it. You really have to do what is right for you. I've found that there are certain cookbooks that I use all the time. Others just for fresh ideas, but more often than not I'm searching the internet for inspiration, or just chowhounding. What I've started to do is a collection or printouts, of favorite dishes and compile into a personal cookbook. I know places like Michael's Arts and Crafts, or A.C. Moores have blank books that make it really simple and have indexes already set up. I know I have one that was given to me as a gift and it's great.

              You do have to sift through every so often though. I mean seriously am I really ever going to make creme brulee....:???? Probably not. Or whatever the case may be, and as stated before the search engines can bring up anything in the future.

              Best of luck to you.

              1. Something that might inspire you to delve into the books a bit more often is to form a cooking/dining group. I am the organizer of the group we belong to. We are about 14-16 couples (there are some singles too). We have a big party in the fall where all members come and then there are 4 dinners throuout the year with a head count of about 8 -10 (depending on what the hosts can handle) at each dinner. I try very hard to keep a good mixture at each dinner so hopefully the same people are not together more than a couple of times.

                The hosts plan the menu and assign recipes to each attendee. And the host has a 2 month window to plan and schedule the dinner. Getting involved in someting like this will have you pouring over many of those books, you may get to taste some recipes you have admired (like the creme brulee someone mentioned) and you will be on the lookout for interesting cookbooks and recipes. You and your friends will find yourselves stretching your food knowledge and culianry abilities.

                I have a lot of cookbooks but I have been at this for over 32 years. I like reading them like novels. I do make use of my public library and before buying a book I will take it out and go through it thoroughly. I put postits on pages where there are recipes I think I will want to try. Sometimes I am so engaged with a book I'll have it ordered before it is due back in the library. I did that with Mongoes and Curry Leaves, what a great book and travelogue. And, most recently with Into The Vietnamese Kitchen.

                I try to keep my books catagorized by subject so I can more quickly find what I am loooking for. Every few years I get honest with myself and donate books that I have not used in several years to a fundraiser, first checking out value for taxes. I just found that my whimsical purchase of The Nancy Drew Cookbook I paid $9.00 for is worth $75.00.

                No I don't make a huge feast every night but I do try to keep our menus from being the same old same old too. Beign just 2 of us a huge feast daily would mean bariatric surgery would be in our futures. Pick one new interesting thing each meal see how it works and if you like it. You just never know.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Candy


                  as always, you are a culinary inspiration. i love the dining group idea and i think it's a great way to put some of those recipes i've clipped into action, thinking "oh, amber would love this" and "carolyn would love that".


                  1. re: funkymonkey

                    If you will send me an e-mail address I will send you a copy of our "rules". We used to laboriously keep track of every penny we spent and then at the end of the evening divid up the expenses. That was kind of a downer and we figured it would all even out in the end. We have also agreed that if the host(s) want to do something that would be very expensive they discuss it with the people attending the meal and decide if they want to share the costs of doing something like flying in lobsters or having a caviare tasting. If a host assigns a dish where someone feels it is way out of their budget that person is free to ask the host if there is an alternative. We are in it for fun, food and knowledge. We vary widely in ages, grad students to retirees. We have a wine buyer member so he is frequently called upon to make suggestions for menus.

                    We had a lot of fun a few weeks ago. I decided on a spur of the moment Asian Pot Luck. No menu and no recipe assignments, it was for the whole group. They each got to make whatever they wanted and like at our fall party each guest brought wine or beer to share. We had food from China to Indonesia to Vietnam. All delicious. All varied.

                    Anyway e-mail me and I'll give you our guide lines and you can adapt them to what ever suits you and your friends. cgrover@kiva.net. I can send along a couple of sample menus and some pix if you'd like. You can check out some of the pot luck here:http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b... Look at Vietnamese in the Midwest.

                    1. re: Candy

                      Fantastic idea! I like how you handle the financial part, too. Very diplomatic.

                  2. re: Candy

                    Great idea! We've just started a wine group with some friends & acquaintances, thinking it will eventually turn into a wine dinner (although not sure how well the others cook....)
                    Thanks for the suggestions!

                    1. re: laurendlewis

                      Don't worry about the other's cooking abilities. That is part of the fun. Many will improve and many may find skills they did not know they have. It makes us stretch and grow in our abilitiles.

                  3. 1. Catalog all of my books here:

                    2. Never clip recipes

                    3. Database of recipes I want to try from my library

                    4. Realize it's out of control

                    5. Deep breathing

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                      1. Decide to forget the very thought of cataloging. Just counting books is enough.

                      2. Clip recipes and put them into big envelopes by category.

                      3. When I get around to it, keyboard said recipes and file in the appropriate folder on the hard drive.

                      4. Control? Who has time for that?

                      5. Keep breathing.....

                      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                        I thought I was the only person OCD enough to have a database of recipes I want to try!

                      2. I don't ever really keep up, but one thing I started doing last year was cooking from a different book or magazine every week. I would pick maybe three or four recipes from a book and cook them during the week... one week would be Michael Chiarello week and the next week would be Fine Cooking week, etc. I still couldn't keep up, but it made me feel better! Of course, I didn't keep it up for very long either, but sometimes it's the thought that counts... right?! ;-)

                        1. I keep a card file. Yes, I know it's old school. I started it over thirty years ago and of course have plenty of books. Although I'm trying not to buy any new ones because of shelf space. But the box of index cards has worked well for me. I've rated the recipes using a couple of simple rules and thrown out the ones that didn't make the cut.

                          The fun part about the card file (or binder) is that over the 30 years you can look back and see the trends in food. (nouvelle etc.) But, more importantly, you can see how you've changed. It seems when I was in my twenties there was no such a thing as fat and cholesterol.

                          1. keep your absolute favorite recipes in a notebook, binder, whatever is most convenient for you. STOP BUYING COOKBOOKS! they just take up space

                            the best cooks, both professional and home, work on theories and ratios. once you learn these (whats the ratio of stock to couscous? or the ratios for hard rolls? ounces of gelatin for a pannacotta?) you won't need recipes unless it's something new or complex. and these have infinite possibilities as well. they'll be the same 40 years from now, too!

                            1. I use Microsoft One Note to keep track of my recipes. It's a fairly new program that allows you to clip full web pages, pictures, text, from the Internet and seamlessly paste it on to your One Note notebook's "pages." The notebook is subdivided by tabs like "Poultry" "Pasta" "Desserts," etc.

                              Most of my recipes nowadays are from the Internet, so One Note is a great way for me to organize them. For cookbook recipes, I tend to just dog-ear the page and write notes on it if necessary. One of these days, if I'm feeling really motivated I will probably transfer the cookbook recipes over to One Note.

                              When I cook I just bring my laptop out into the kitchen, leaving it open to the needed recipe. I find it very useful to have the laptop around while cooking anyway, since in a pinch I may need a substitution, and a quick Internet search will usually turn up helpful information.