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Jan 6, 2009 06:18 PM

How do you organize recipes you find online?

Oftentimes, I find myself browsing blogs or epicurious, etc and see all these recipes I want to try. Sometimes I email myself the link (and risk losing it under piles of emails!) or bookmark the link. I find the latter method helps to organize it a bit but it is still a bit of a mess because I have links all over the place!! Printing doesn't work for me either because a) I hate the idea of printing something when I can just refer to it online b) I usually have PILES of papers all over the apartment of printouts c) I eventually misplace the papers.

So, how do organize your collection of online recipes? Is there a tool online that I am unaware of?

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  1. I cut and paste the recipe into a word document and then file it in a "recipes" folder on my desktop, sorted into various categories (eg apps - soups, dips; entrees - fish, poultry, etc). I like this because then i can easily record any changes to recipes (substituted ingredients, changed cooking times for my oven, etc) after I make them. Also, it lets me collect recipes from lots of different sites in one place. I very rarely print these out - usually just sit my laptop on a counter far away from the stove, sink, or other dangerous places!

    6 Replies
    1. re: rovingfoodie

      I do this too. I like the way it lets me make notes and changes with little fuss. And this way the recipes are still available even if I should find myself in a no-internet situation.

      1. re: rovingfoodie

        That's exactly what I do, too. I annotate the recipes with changes in ingredients or ideas I've had for the next time I try the recipe. Sometimes I also cross-reference recipes with similar ones in my cookbooks.

        1. re: rovingfoodie

          Yes, that's what I do too - with one exception. I used to cut and paste into Word, but now I save the page or document as a PDF, which allows me to highlight, annotate, add notes, etc. without inadvertently modifying the original. Then, I organize my recipe folder by categories as described here. It's a good system!

          1. re: lifespan

            I do something similar, except painful experience has not me not to trust anything stored on my local drive. I switched to using Google docs word processor, so all my recipes are stored on the net. They're also available should I be visiting family and want to access one.

            1. re: JonParker

              Oh what a Fantastic idea! I'm on it and uploading as I type this. Thanks!

              1. re: JonParker

                I cut and paste it to a Microsoft Office Word document and store it on my external hard drive. I had my laptop crash a few months ago and I don't trust anything to my internal hard drive that I want to keep.

          2. The best tool is a file folder. A real one.

            When I tried the email-to-myself method, I had the same result you did - they got lost in the stacks of read and unread emails and I never got back to the recipes.
            Same thing with the bunches of random bookmarked recipes.
            I never got back to those either. Links everywhere and I never went back through systematically, opened everything and sent stuff to the trash bin.

            Printing DOES work - once you admit to yourself that you are NOT going to ever go back to that stuff online in an orderly way. Ever. Admit it.
            Stop throwing the print-outs into piles.
            Put the print-out into a brightly colored recipe folder. Or make a couple of them for different categories and put them in ONE place in your kitchen.
            That way they don't get mixed in with your bills, reading material, the novel you're writing, and all your other stuff.
            You will no longer misplace them.

            I pull out my "pending" recipes file about once a week.
            When I'm getting ready to go to the market and plan my meals.
            Sometimes I look at one and say, "what was I thinking? I'll never cook this." and I throw it out.
            Other times, it's perfect and the main ingredient is even on sale at the supermarket that week. Bingo!
            Maybe since I printed that recipe, I've found a better version and I now have three similar recipes in the file to compare. I can combine them and work them together when I cook.
            There are times when I put the recipe away for much later because I have delayed so long in making it that the produce item is now out of season. That goes into a "next year" file.
            A lot of those recipes never make the second cut.
            But they aren't cluttering up my computer and they aren't lost in the piles all over my house any more.
            And I try a lot more new recipes - because I can FIND them!!!!

            In every case, the website where I got the original recipe is printed on the bottom of the page. I can go back after I try the recipe and save it as a Word document in my permanent recipe file on the computer and make my own notes. Or if I have made substantial changes, I just write my own version.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              "I now have three similar recipes in the file to compare. I can combine them
              and work them together when I cook."
              This sounds like my method. Say I want to make lasagne this weekend and have no idea how. (Just an example of course!) I look at various recipe sites, print out 2 or at most 3 of the very best recipes I can find, and staple them together. I will take elements of each one and combine them, tweaking at will, and write my notes on the printed copy. After making the dish I look over the recipes, find the one closest to what I finally wound up making, and toss the others. The printed copy with my notes goes into a folder in my kitchen, which only holds successfully made recipes that I definitely want to make again. Anything that turns out so-so I toss.

              1. re: MakingSense

                MakingSense makes sense!

                The only hurdle is having access to a printer - you didn't list this as an issue so you should be good.

                I was never a binder person in school and I'm not super-anally organized, but I DO keep a 3 ring binder with 3 ring hole punch in the kitchen. After making a recipe, I pop it in the binder.

                I love having a good old fashioned "cook book" to peruse, plus I got one of those binders with a clear front and made funky food collages for the front and back. I write any notes right there on the recipe.

              2. I do as rovingfoodie does; copy recipes into a word document.

                I keep a separate Word folder for Chowhound recipes, because these are recommended by those of you who have used them; I'm pretty sure they'll work and be good, so that's the first folder I look at on my computer when I want a new recipe.

                If I decide subsequently to try it, I write it down in abbreviated form for the first test run.

                If it passes, and is worth keeping forever, it goes in its full version into my double-extra-special leatherbound favorite recipes notebook (handwritten). My litmus test for deciding whether I want to keep a recipe "forever" is whether I think it would be worthy of being served at major holidays or family occasions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steady Habits

                  I love the idea of a family forever cookbook, but I'd encourage you to add some favorite weeknight meals in there too. Since moving away from home I haven't been hounding my folks for special occasion food but for the things they made all the time - those are the meals I miss most.

                2. I print the ones I'm interested in and file it in a binder under different categories. But if you're looking for an online tool, you really should look at -- a bookmarking site. You can create tags for your recipes so you have easy access to them. The only problem with this is that there's no guarantee that the recipes will be there in the future as things get shuffled around online.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I'm also a big fan of I love being able to tag my recipes, eg. when I save a Yucatan pork recipe, I can mark it "pork" "Mexican" "lime" "slow-cooker"-- so if I happen to have a pork roast in my freezer I'd like to use, I just pop into my delicious account and see what pops up when I input pork. Delicious also allows me to make notes about each recipe.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I just started using this and love it. It's almost effortless but makes me feel so organized. And I can access it from work and home.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Agrees on delicious, though I still think of it as I tag mine under recipes if I want to mark them.

                        Otherwise I don't bather. The nice thing about online recipes is that they will still be there if I want them again.

                      2. If I just want to refer to it online I bookmark the URL and hope I can remember what it was! If it's a recipe I actually want to cook I print it out and if it works out halfway decent I put the printout into my recipe binder so that it doesn't get lost and I can make it again.