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How do you store your most oft-used recipes?

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I have a handful of cookbooks stashed near the kitchen that I pull out again and again for the same old recipes (for variations, or because I forgot a temperature or a quantity).

I used to search through them every time I looked. Then I bought a small notecard box and copied down my favorites onto index cards, but that turned out to be rather annoying (writing out instructions by hand?). Maybe instead I'll buy some sticky tabs and label each page directly in the book.

So if you have a lot of cookbooks, and several recipes you go back to again and again, how do you keep them ready and convenient?

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  1. Mini laptop (caught a deal at Best Buy for $150.00) is stationed on my kitchen counter with 4,500 recipes sorted by ingredient. I search by specific ingredient, generate a shopping list or recipe on screen and go to town. My hard copy cookbooks are in the den for when I need a photo reminder or a friend wants to borrow one of the books. My collection of cookbooks is relatively small. I did start a mag and online recipe file that consists of a plastic binder with clear 2-sided sleeves but those recipes are works in progress for me to tweak and use once. I rotate mag/online recipe for special occasions or experimentation. Fairly convenient all the way around but I'm open to better methods.

    10 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      I'm computer-challenged....how did 4500 recipes get in your laptop? Did you scan them in or what?

      1. re: sparkareno

        And how did they get sorted by ingredient? Just major ingredient?

        I'm very intrigued.

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I downloaded a recipe file program that converts docs and can sort by queries I create. It's somewhat photo friendly but not nearly as friendly as I would like.
          Here's an example of one such program: http://www.accuchef.com/
          Then, I brought this program to my IT guy and he created a custom recipe file for me and upgraded the software when I purchased the mini laptop. However, there are plenty of recipe file programs on the market that work well for smaller recipe files. As for my ingredient sort, I created queries by a main ingredient and over time built that mini database as I needed. Today I can cross reference a single recipe by 90% of the ingredients listed.

          Took some time to get up & running but totally worth it. This laptop is completely dedicated as a recipe file.

          1. re: HillJ

            Wow. That is pretty amazing.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              TDQ, yes-these recipe files are genius and expanding features all the time. My daughter has a very small version of her own but it is my hope she will build her own recipe file over the years.

            2. re: HillJ

              I, too, am not very skilled with a computer. I'm a decent typist and a former English major, but at age 58, I missed out on growing up with computers. I use them, but I am not very comfortable with them. Here's what I don't get: you said the program "converts docs." Does that mean it scans recipes into your file? All my experience with scanning has been at work, but I have a very negative impression of the whole process. It seems to result in wacky text being spread all over the page and, for some reason, you cannot edit or manipulate the text.

              If it doesn't mean scanning, what does "converts docs" mean? Anyway, I would really like to do what you are doing, if it does not require typing my 2,000 or so recipes into the computer.

              I hope you read this and will reply. Thanks!

              1. re: gfr1111

                gfr1111, the software isn't difficult to use. In the case of scanning individual pieces of paper or using the scan/copy function to "capture" a "what you see is what you get" identical copy uploaded to your computer, the scanning & copy functions do that for you. Then you save that "capture" into a word document, pdf file or recipe software file extension in order to save it to the recipe file software database. From there the individual recipes are easy to sort, manipulate and query by any heading you select.

              2. re: HillJ

                Yeah, I'm still not getting it. I have hundreds (maybe thousands) of recipes on scraps of paper torn from magazines, newspapers, given from friends etc. How would I get all those in this file? I do have a "recipe box" on epicurious and Food Network of my favorites & imagine I could move those into this program but what about all the ones on paper or in cookbooks? If you could explain in non-computer language, I would be so grateful!!

                1. re: sparkareno

                  It might help you to read the features on the Accuchef software but converts means several options, quickly and for starters:
                  a) if I scan a recipe to my main computer and create a file, the recipe software converts that file for entry into the database. b) if I download a recipe from the Internet or receive a recipe via email as an attachment I can open that file using the recipe software and then add it to my custom query list. c) If I create (type) a recipe I can add it to my database. d) If I copy a recipe from a hard copy source I can turn that file into several diff types of documents the recipe software can read. And so on.

                  In essence, the software program does the heavy lifting and I manipulate the recipes to my liking.

                  I hope that helps better understand some of the features.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I did look at the Accuchef stuff. Other than not being able to cross reference by ingredient or getting the nutritional content, why couldn't I just store all my recipes in a folder on my computer? Am I missing something? Sorry to be so dense--I appreciate your answers. To me the hassle is typing the recipes in there in the first place.

        2. I too am not very computer skilled. I photocopy the recipes and keep them in a 3 ring notebook, organized: beef, sauces, salads, etc. It works well and doesn't take up any counter space.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TomSwift

            yep, my "hall of fame" recipes go into my 3-ring binder also, whether photocopied from one of my cookbooks or printed out from the computer.

          2. I have a three ring binder and bought plastic sleeves and dividers. Any recipe I use often (or photocopies) gets slipped into the sleeves w/ notes, and into the binder. I noticed the other day that it's almost exclusively desserts/sweets/baking but then realized I don't often use recipes for savory meal dishes.

            1. I put them on index cards and tape them to the inside of the cupboard doors.

              1. I purchased thin cork board at Home Depot. I then used a staple gun to install it right inside my top cupboard doors. (use short staples and watch for door thickness)I copy recipes off line or right from my favorite books. On seperate doors I divide the recipes by breakfast, meals, dessert, so there is no hunting when I need them. Works great!

                1. I use Post Its for my fav .recipes in books.Having a catering business for 30 yrs I finally developed a system for my regular recipes. I created computer files for my most used recipes. I print them out onto 8x11 paper and put each page into its own plastic sleeve. For my business, all these recipe pages were stored by category in spiral binders. But for myself, I store the plastic covered pages in heavy plastic 2 pocket colored folders from Staples. Into the pockets themselves I usually tuck cut out printed or handwritten recipes that are smaller than the 8x11 sheets. My folders are labelled: Poultry,;Pork; Beef,Veal, Lamb; Starches; Vegetables;Salad Dressngs, Soups and Sauces; Brunch, Dessert; and To Try.

                  As for the display of the recipes when I am cooking from them, I use a raised 'bookstand' type unit that sits on my main island. This displays the sleeved recipe (and others soon to be used behind it.)