Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Jan 3, 2010 07:10 AM

Eat Your Books - Cookbook and recipe organizer [Moved from Home Cooking]


I read about this website in my local paper (the Boston Globe) and have been playing with it for the last few days. It's a great and easy to use website on finding recipes from all your cookbooks. There is a free 30 day trial and a limited lifetime membership for $50.

I don't have nearly as many cookbooks as most HC hounds. I use about 25 of them regularly but do spend way too much time going through them, looking for recipes using certain ingredients. Since I have a summer, winter and meat CSA, I spend a lot of time backtracking through cookbooks. This site is a huge time saver.

You input your cookbook titles into the database. EYB has a huge database of indexed cookbooks. Then, to do a search, you go to your library and type in an ingredient. The site then goes through your library's cookbooks, and matches ingredients to the recipes you already have.

Where this will really get interesting is when I input the cookbooks that I don't use on a regular basis. Who knows what interesting recipes will pop up when I type in an ingredient I want to use up. There are cookbooks on the back end of my shelf that I never look at and this can help remedy that.

NOTE: the site doesn't show the recipe, it just tells you what cookbook it's from. This way, you don't have to comb through all your cookbooks to find recipes for whatever excess ingredient you might have.

I think the site is only about 6 months old so there are only about 800+ books indexed. But, out of my 25 books that I inputted, only 3 weren't indexed (including my beloved Flexitarian Table). But, it looks like they are constantly adding more.

Here are the links to the site as well as to the Globe article.

  1. Interesting, indeed! I've been thinking something like this was necessary and was actually thinging of scanning the indices of my own cookbooks for awhile to accomplish something similar.

    When the software tells you what cookbook a recipe is in, does it give you the name of the recipe and the page number?


    2 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      It gives the recipe name and cookbook but no page numbers. That's because of different editions. It really is fun to play with.

      1. re: beetlebug

        Very cool. Do they have a mechanism by which you can request a book to be added, for instance, Flex Table?

        I like the feature (the idea of it anyway, I haven't actually played with the tool yet) where you can search all books (even the ones you don't own.) Maybe there's an obscure ingredient you like but never can find enough things to do with, and this may be a good mechanism for you to find books you might consider buying.


    2. I wonder how they are doing this. Scanning just the indices? Or all the recipes so that every ingredient is included. That would be truly laborious - and comprehensive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: karykat

        I was thinking that, too. I'm going to have to poke around more, but it would be nice to know, for instance, if a recipe features carrots, or if it just happens to have some carrots in it...


      2. Interesting concept but nothing is as valuable as your own recipe DB so I'd bite the bullet and spend the money and get that started as soon as possible.

        I probably have a healthy cookbook collection. And I've had a DB for 10 years or more. Wouldn't want to have to do without either one but if I had to, my choice would be clear!

        A DB can be used in many ways and the simplest would be to put the reference to a recipe and whatever cookbook(s) it appears in with page numbers. But when you do the initial work to put individual recipes in you can: share them on forums by C&P (no typing errors to ever worry about again!), you can share the whole DB with family even printing them out in the form of cookbooks if you like, you can do a search by ingredient (my current DB also has a "potluck" feature that will give me as many suggestions as I want), you can search by any keyword you assign to things (like family members' favorite foods), you can generate notes (like everything written about tempering chocolate to compare, say, Sharffen Berger's methods with David Lebovitz' and Alice Medrich's; I have one for which Indian foods I prefer at which local Indian restaurants), you can generate the shopping list (my current one has an iPod utility that keeps my shopping lists portable, editable and organizes them by store), you can scale recipes up and down without any math errors and you can have pix of anything you like.

        There are some cookbooks and personal recipes for which I have to do the typing but it's amazing how many of them I'm able to find an internet reference to and just copy in. Also anything that's been in Bon Apetit, Gourmet, Home & Garden is on epicurious to be copied. Many other mags and newspaper Food Sections have their own recipe DBs that can be copied in as can recipes from food websites.

        All said, for the one-time $30 or so I spent on my program I have something that I'd rush into a burning house to retrieve (I have the data on 3 separate thumb drives) and to share with my kids. And I got to try the program free for $30 to see if it was going to meet my needs.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rainey

          As the co-founder of Eat Your Books, I'm posting to answer the questions raised so far. You can request that we index any book you own that has not yet been done - the more requests it gets, the higher up the list it goes. The indexing is done by manually entering the details for each recipe into our database - main ingredients, recipe type, ethnicity, special diet, meal/course and occasion. So yes, it is laborious and expensive (hence membership fees) but it means you have a really valuable search engine if you are a member. We don't include store-cupboard ingredients such as flour, butter, oil, etc but everything else is listed, including all herbs and spices. So if you have a lot of carrots or something else in your CSA box then you can quickly find all the recipes in your books that contain that ingredient, or limit your search to just categories such as soups or vegetarian recipes.
          I admire the time and effort that rainey has invested in their own recipe database but most people don't want to do that, so hopefully EYB will fill that need.

          1. re: JaneEYB

            Very cool. Do you have a list of the books you've indexed?

            1. re: karykat

              Yes, if you go to and click on the Community page there is a link to the indexed books list. You don't have to sign up for the free trial to view the list. There are quite a few pages you can view before deciding whether to sign up, though as the free trial doesn't involve any financial commitment, that is worth doing as you then get a better idea of what the website can do.

        2. Thanks for sharing this resource with us. I think it will be a great way for me to get more use out of my current cookbooks. Just today, I was looking through them to figure out what I should do with some extra leeks I have. I am looking forward to seeing this database develop. The only downside for me so far, is that my Japanese, Korean and Spanish cookbooks have not been indexed yet. On the flip side, I see Marcella Hazan, Mario Batali, Patricia Wells and Thomas Keller. Good stuff.

          1. wow, this has a lot of possibilities
            thx for posting!