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Aug 26, 2008 03:14 PM

How do you choose what to keep when downsizing your cookbook collection?

After 50 years in the kitchen, it's time to cull. I'm not concerned about what to do with the ones I decide to part with, as I've got a lot of options. But what criteria do you use for keeping vs donating/selling?


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  1. I regret every book I gave away when I downsized my collection several years ago. But I have to say that it's been fn building it back up again!

    1. 1. Whether I have used it at all during the past year.

      2. Does it have sentimental value.

      3. How expensive was it.

      4. Is it an antique.

      If it meets any of those criteria, I keep it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: diablo

        That's a top notch set of criteria, diablo. I hadn't enumerated them, but those are the ones I used when I pared my collection down prior to a cross country move earlier this year.

        1. re: ccbweb

          Thanks ccbweb. My own criteria actually forced me to buy a bookcase for just my cookbooks, though. I just can't seem to stop myself from purchasing more---and, believe me, any sane person would have stopped a looong time ago :)

          1. re: diablo

            Just one bookcase? I'm working on my third...(floor to ceiling).

        2. re: diablo

          Thank you so much for this! I am preparing to make my first move in over five years and this helps so much!

        3. oldhound, do remember that nowadays we have the Net. Sure, the pleasure of cookbooks is not just looking up a recipe for say artichokes - chicken and lemon, but I find I've been hesitating to buy certain cookbooks that would have had much appeal ten or 20 years ago.

          Are you moving into a smaller house or apartment after empty nest or retirement? Then you do have to be a bit brutal.

          1. I've only kept the ones with charts and information/references inside: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (inside cover has cooking times and temps and a substitution chart) and Joy of Cooking (lots of hints within a recipe or section..."about spices" tells you curry should be blended for each recipe and used dry to coat meat, and sour for marinated meat) to bread and fry (when you get to the egg wash, make sure it isn't bubbly or the breading won't adhere evenly)

            All other recipes I can get from the internet.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Cathy

              When I was downsizing I made copies of the charts, which I have in plastic page protectors taped to the inside of the cabinet door by my stove. Sometimes the chart was the only thing I used in the book - so now I have the info and more room for the books I do use!

              1. re: meatn3

                Ha. I copied the cuts of meat drawings and have those taped to the inside of the cabinet door next to the stove...

                ...and never thought of the charts.

                <Synapses. Need two.>

                1. re: Cathy

                  Oh, I like that idea! I finally mounted all my bits of notes to sheets of paper and went with the page protector method when I moved. It has worked well for me. I also have my holiday checklists/countdown notes there as well, tucked behind the more frequently used cheat-sheets!

            2. I cleaned out my collection of cookbooks and magazines a few months back and it was difficult. I got rid of most of the magazines, save for a few collector's issues or ones that were sentimental favourites. As for getting rid of actual books, I donated all of the ones that didn't have that special 'something': I never cooked from them and would never sit down on a rainy day just to read through them, as I do with all my favourites. A lot of them were gifts or bargain bin purchases that seemed like a good idea at the time. If it doesn't inspire you, get rid of it.