How do you keep track of all the recipes you want to try?
I love trying new recipes ... I feel really unfulfilled when I repeat a meal to excess just because I have it memorized. I often book mark things and forget about them, rather than setting a game plan to try them for the week. I then realize I forgot to plan for them when I go grocery shopping and end up getting staples for meals I remember how to make. How do you manage your ambitions and enable the search for variety?
I keep 2 main cooking folders on my PC. One is "Recipes", the other, "My Recipes" - both are further divided into sub folders (apps, meat, fish, etc). As I see a recipe of particular interest, I'll copy it into "Recipes". It doesn't always happen, but once a week, I like to browse the "Recipe" file and choose something new for the week. Sometimes, re-reading a recipe, I'll wonder why I saved it and delete it.
So I make the "recipe". If I like it and it's worth making again, it is moved to "MY Recipes", otherwise, it's 8ighty-sixed.
I recently started using a site called ZipList. It combines recipe storage with grocery-list making -- you can click a recipe and place the ingredients on your shopping list. It also has mobile options and a free iPhone app. Many recipe sites have a ZipList button that automatically stores recipes for you, and you can also download a menu-bar tool that lets you copy and paste. I love the ability to put all my recipes in one place, since I tend to gather them from various blogs and websites. I'm less enamored with the shopping list-making function -- it's clunky. But it might be a good reminder for you.
Meal planning is a different process for me. I signed up for the weekly specials email from my regular grocery store. I go through to see what's on sale that week and plan meals based around at least some of those items. That's the starting point for my shopping list. I also gather recipes I want to try in a folder online (or put printouts in an actual folder) or tag them in my RSS feed reader, etc. When it's time to make the week's menu plan, I pull that file out for ideas.
I have two strategies. First, for recipes I want to try (most of which I find online), I copy and paste the recipe into an email, along with the link where I found it (so I know where to go back to read comments, ask for help, cite the source, etc). I use gmail, which makes searching for recipes a breeze. I also created labels within my emails, such as "vegetarian," "gluten free," "healthy," etc. and apply as appropriate. That way, I can either search for recipes for "chocolate cake" or filter my recipes by category.
Second, I keep a blog where I publish successful recipes I want to remember. [MODS, please don't delete...this is actually an ON TOPIC reference if you read the OP. Cheers]. Between the two systems, it works! And I feel your pain...I can never seem to remember to go back to my internet bookmarks when hunger strikes.
My method is about the same as ChristinaMason except I never bothered to even use labels (I probably should have). Gmail search is for those of us who don't want to bother with a long term organization strategy. As long as you put the right keywords or tags in your emails, you'll be able to find all applicable recipes with an easy search. I use this method for every recipe I have tried and want to come back to and I haven't lost any of them yet.
The other method I use (occassionally) is StartAid. It's a Firefox browser online bookmarking add-on, helpful because you can access your bookmarks from anywhere. I use this for many recipes that I want to try.
I have a large accordion file--the kind with many pockets, a rigid frame, and a handle--it gets heavy! Most of the recipes I want to try I've ripped from magazines or photocopied from cookbooks. They are sorted by categories: cakes, candy, meat, vegetables, soup, etc.
When I feel like making something new, I'll just browse through the relevant categor(ies) until I hit something that inspires me.
Once I make something, it gets filed in my three-ring binder cooking journal with any notes on how it came out, whether it was liked, etc..
i can't handle all that paper anymore. it takes up too much space, and i never get around to filing it in any sort of manageable fashion. when i moved across the country again last year, as painful as it was, i gave away about 7 or 8 years' worth of food magazines...i just couldn't deal with schlepping them 3000 miles again and finding somewhere to put them. i've started a new system - if i i see a recipe in a magazine or the newspaper that i want to try, i go to the publication's website and bookmark it online. in the rare case when a recipe in the print version isn't available online, i tear it out and store it in a file.
now if i could just get around to organizing those bookmarks...
The only risk with that bookmarking system, ghg, is that sometimes those links go bad. :( Which is a bummer. I still bookmark them (and, no, I have no method of organization either. A lot of serendipity is required in locating a recipe again.) But, I also I cut and paste those online recipes and either email them to myself or post them on a private blog. I always include a link to the original source, in case the link is still active and I want to go back and look at the recipe in context later.
[EDIT: I see ChristinaMason uses the exact same system I do, except I bet she's more organized about it than I am.]
Also, I've bought a scanner, recently (an awesome one that does fantastic character recognition and it's my plan to scan all of the paper copies of the ones that don't have online links and store those somewhere (Haven't gotten that far.)
I've only recently joined Eat Your Books, but they have a great system for marking recipes you want to try in any cookbooks you own...