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Have you ever thought of making some sort of recipe log...[Moved from Home Cooking]

to keep track of particularly good menus that you have come up with, or to keep track of what book you got a recipe out of? I do a lot of baking and, in the holiday season, a lot of cookies especially. I sometimes remember where I got a recipe from, or at least the author, but not always...So I got to thinking I may start keeping some sort of list in a folder. Am I obsessing too much, or just figuring out a way to better organize myself?

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  1. Shayna Madel
    I'm not nearly that organized.(I only wish!) Over time, I've just made copies of my personal Best of the Best, and kept them in a tabbed binder.

    1. I think that could be a good idea. I recently made a lunch for about 100 people. I had my menu and shopping list in excel. Then, after the event I took notes on how much was and wasn't eaten, what I needed more of, etc. I saved it and will have it on record for next time. I do the same with our annual Purim holiday baskets -- how many we made, who we delivered to, what was in them, etc.

      1. When I have people over for dinner I always write down the menu so that I know what to buy/cook/serve. I usually just save them in the back of my recipe box, and if I'm organized I write some notes on them about what did or did not go over particularly well. it makes sense- if a friend mentions that he absolutely loves or hates something, I make a note and I have it for future reference.

        1 Reply
        1. re: shpitzlefan

          I keep most of my recipes in a Word document. At the end of that document, I list my dinner parties with the date, who was there, what I served, where the recipe came from, and, if approporiate, notes on what was particularly successful and what was less so. I love being able to refer to it when company is coming if for no other reason than to make sure I don't do a repeat of what I've done before for the same guests.

        2. I used to document menus for Holidays... in my case, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter... I wrote down who attended, appetizers, and the rest of the menu. It helped me enormously in that I didn't serve the same thing each year. Plus, I documented what people said about what they ate. That helped by telling me what to eliminate and/or add from year to year.

          1. I keep a regular "log" of what I've made in a simple word document that I keep a link to on my desktop. It is amazing how easy it is to forget something really great you made a few months ago. It's probably just that I'm getting old that I need this, but I find it really useful. I just record what I made and how much we like (or didn't like) it.


            3 Replies
            1. re: bnemes3343

              Maybe I'm getting old too (!), because I started doing something similar recently. I keep an Excel file with many of the recipes that are in the regular "weeknight" rotation. Next to the name of each recipe, I list the source. I don't keep the recipes in the file, but this way I know where to find them when I want to make them.

              I'm always adding things to the list, some tried and true, and some things that I want to try out, but basically, it has become a great resource for me to turn to when I'm planning the weeks meals and shopping list.

              It also helps to remind me of things that I haven't made in a while and keeps me from getting in a rut of cooking the same things. On occasion, I look at the list and feel uninspired, so that's when I take some time to sort through the stacks of recipes that I have printed out and pulled from various sources (in addition to cookbooks). I could never seem to get organized, and this system, simple as it may be, has been really helpful.

              1. re: valerie

                Gee, I thought I was the only one who kept a list in Excel! My list is grouped by catagory, title of recipe, main ingredients, where the recipe is, then other comments.

                I have several 3-ring binders full of recipes that I have cut from magazines or printed from the web, and this is the only way to keep track of them. Plus I include favorite recipes from my many cookbooks. Somestimes I go through cookbooks and add recipes to the list that sound good... My list is now over 700 recipes, and growing!

                1. re: firecooked

                  I have binders, too, for recipes I cut out, with dividers for each category. On the divider page, I write the name, cookbook and page number for great recipes also in that category, sort of like an index.

            2. I keep promising myself I will do that but I never quite get to it. It can be a bit frustrating at times when my wife will say, "You haven't made that (whatever) dish in ages. How about we have that for dinner tonight?" And I haven't a clue where I got it.

              This Thanksgiving though I wrote the recipes on Word and the shopping lists on Excel. This could be the start of something big!!

              1. About ten years ago I received a blank leatherbound journal as a gift and without meaning to, turned it into a food diary. I record great recipes and menus, how they went over with guests, what wine I served, what I felt like that day, what we talked about, what I found at the farmer's market, and...whatever else is in my head. I could never get into keeping a journal, but once food became involved it came easy. I love looking up what I served for my Superbowl '99 party and also getting a flashback to what was going on in my life at that time. They say smells pack the most vivid memories, and certain dishes can really take me back and make me reflect. The only problem is whether to keep it on my cookbook shelf or locked away.

                1 Reply
                1. re: yamalam

                  I love your idea of the food journal with thoughts on your feelings, discussions that took place, etc. What a wonderful reference to reflect on!

                2. Years ago I found a spiral bound "recipe" book. Categories are listed alphabetically with plenty of blank lines for the cookbook, page # & comments. I keep it with my cook books & it has saved so much time over the years. I seem to remember you being in/near NYC? I believe I saw something similar at that great cookbook store, Kitchen Arts & Letters when I was up for Thanksgiving.

                  1. I do keep a log. It's a loose-leaf notebook. Every time I make something new I enter (under the appropriate category) the recipe name, where to find it (including page #) and a brief (ie "very good" "eh") comment. I then write the worthwhile recipes on an index card. I don't do it on the computer because I love rifling through the index cards when I'm trying to think of a menu.

                    I list dinner party menus on small separate sheets, filed by invitees and date. Wow, does that sound anal!! I don't usually make comments on those sheets (although I think I should.) The listings are mostly so that I don't serve someone the same food over and over again, but I do check them for ideas. I usually remember what went over really well and what failed miserably.

                    Once you start your lists they're easy to keep up, and well worth the slight effort when you're looking for something.

                    1. I do have a "party recipe" folder where I keep loose recipes to feed a crowd. I also keep the menus I make for parties with notes on what was great and what wasn't. For big days like Christmas and T-giving, I also make a detailed time plan of what goes into/out of the oven, stovetop, refrig etc at what time. Then I don't have to keep a running list in my head with all of the other goings-on. I just consult my time sheet and everything is organized and all done on time. I add or subtract things year to year depending on who is coming and what time we are planning to dine.

                      1. I keep a kitchen journal. I make notes everyday meals, on ideas for specific ingrediants, on particularly successful meals, and certainly on special occasion meals. It's also really useful to look back on canning recipes and amounts (interesting to see how my crops change from year to year). It's also great to see what I served for guests, so I don't repeat the same meals to them.
                        I go through usually two journals a year. Sometimes it's hard to find what I'm looking for - computerized and therefor searchable would be great, but I like writing it down by hand.

                        1. I type up a Word document with the date, names of the guests and the complete menu whenever we have folks over for a meal so that I can look back and see what I've served to these folks previously. (I hate the idea of serving the same dish twice to somebody unless they've specifically asked for it.) I also have a huge computer file of recipes that I've transcribed from various sources - magazines, newspapers, cookbooks - that look interesting to me. If we try a new dish and don't care for it, I delete it from the files so we're sure not to make the same mistake twice.

                          1. Funny you should ask! I've spent all of 2007 reading Nigel Slater's "THE KITCHEN DIARIES". I keep it on my nightstand and read today's entry each day - or as close as possible. KD is a day-to-day compilation of what Slater found at farmers' markets, what he cooked, a remark or two about the weather & garden, etc. It's insightful to read how he comes up with meals from available ingredients. It's a complete delight and inspiring.

                            I have thought about doing this for many years and even made a couple of stabs at it more than twenty years ago. Yes, I do keep track of menus as well as guest likes & dislikes but this is different. I like the format of a casual, talk-to-myself memoir. Even though I'm a lousy typist, I prefer a keyboard to handwriting so I'm thinking of a small laptop that will live in the kitchen where it's to be completely accessible for everyday meals.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Sherri

                              Regarding the laptop in the kitchen...earlier this year we moved from an apartment to a house and I now have a big kitchen with a desk incorporated into the counter and on it sits my laptop.

                              I LOVE having a computer in the kitchen. Whether for looking up recipes and having them right there, or to making shopping lists, it's just so convenient.

                            2. When I started a website this summer to make myself write more, I added a food blog. It's turned into a place to log some recipes as I make them and also notes about experiences cooking and reflections about food. I hope over time to post on it a bunch of the recipes on scraps of paper that are currently stuffed into cookbooks (my, er, filing method up till now) as I make each one.

                              I like doing it this way; I can share the recipes and experiences with others, add pictures, and check the recipe for something from anywhere that has internet access. I've also started trading food blogs with some friends.

                              Has anyone else here done this online? I'd love to see others.

                              Oh, and if anyone would like to see mine, it's at www.gofrolic.org and click on "food blog"

                              1. I keep notes of dates, occasions, outcomes and opinions on recipes themselves (on the printout or on a post-it stuck to the cookbook page), but I like the idea of a recipe log or food diary better. Thanks for the inspiration.

                                1. Over the past couple of years I have transcribed my favorite recipes on to Word and now in a folder on my laptop - it's great for travelling. Now if I see a recipe or receive a new one from someone, I do the same....helps to type fast!!! The one thing I haven't done that this thread suggests over and over is to log the menus that I have served company. I always scratch my head to think what I served people the last time they visited.....so maybe it's time to start!!! It would be just a great reminder of what went over well.....and what flopped - which almost never happens.....lol.

                                  1. I have Mastercook but rarely use it. I keep track of recipes I find online under one category in Internet Explorer. At present I'm utilizing a new system for the mountain of cookbooks I've amassed. I created a document in excel that lists the recipes I would like to make from a given book. I note specific ingredients or special tools I'll need to purchase to prepare the item. There's an area where notes can be included and it is a wonderful time saver. I found that this has made me very proactive and effective, especially in regard to menu planning and utilizing what I have on hand.