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May 30, 2011 11:02 AM


I have tons of wonderful cookbooks,but when it comes time to make a meal....I am at a loss where that special recipe is that I have been wanting to try for the last year. So many books, so many recipes, & I don't have a clue where to start. How in the world do you get it all together? Surely there must be some sort of organizational methods that can be used to point out the favorite recipes in each book. Please give me some suggestions. Putting it sadly, I am buying more cookbooks & still eating the same 'ol stuff, & spending more on groceries. I have never been able to make a menu for a week, much less be able to keep track of where the special recipes are in each book. Is there hope or am I just stuck in this dreadful cycle?
. Sign me "hopeless, hungry & overloaded with cookbooks", sorta like "water, water everywhere, but none to drink".

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  1. Many of the cookbook collecting addicts on this site—and I proudly count myself among them—are members of and proselytizers for EatYourBookscom ( ) an online site with a modest annual fee that allows you to search for nearly all of the recipes in nearly all of your cookbooks.

    Here are a few threads that will give you some idea of what it’s all about and how it works.

    For many of us who are members, it has given us access to recipes in our own books that we never had before and has had a very positive impact on meal planning and how we use ingredients we already have on hand.

    Check it out and see if you think it might work for you. Many of us swear by it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Thanks JoanN...I shall go there.

      1. re: JoanN

        The problem is that the overwhelming majority of my recipes don't come directly from books -- they're torn out of newspapers, clipped from magazines, written down by friends and family -- I really only use about 3 cookbooks with any regularity -- the rest are of completely random origin.

        1. re: sunshine842

          Yes, I understand. I have the same problem with 40+ years of clipped tearsheet plus an 800+ page Word document of cut-and-paste and scanned recipes.

          But the OP was asking specifically about finding recipes among cookbooks s/he already owns and Eat Your Books is unsurpassed in that regard.

      2. *organize*? What is this of which you speak?

        Mine are thrown pell-mell into a binder or tucked between the pages of Joy...waiting the rainy day when I finally decide to do something with them.

        Somehow I always manage to find what I'm looking for, though.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          You are very lucky...I have lost track of what is where. I too have tried the binder thing. I can keep track of the recipes ripped, torn, & copied off the internet, I just need to figure out how to find a particular recipe out there in one of my many cookbooks. For instance, pickled shrimp, was it in a Paula Deen cookbook or perhaps in any one of the other 200 books I own....I am exhausted just thinking of it. Bye for now.

          1. re: sunshine842

            What is this of which you speak? Well, I am speaking in tongues...that is what.

          2. I make photocopies of cookbook recipes, or rip pages out of magazines, and glue-stick them into spiral-bound notebooks. Some of the notebooks are organized by categories like: Entrees, Pork, Canning, Desserts, etc. Others are organized by season. But now I have about 6 spiral bound notebooks and have to remember/search to find the recipe I want, and many copies are just loose in the notebooks. Plastic sheet covers in a binder would be better, and I do have one of these for Holiday Food, but I hate how the plastic gets all greasy and sticky (it's the Christmas cookies...).

            I have a second system of file folders labeled Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter with recipes for each season. These are usually recipes I have yet to try. If they pass muster that season they go into the notebooks.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Junie D

              Been doing that for years, in addition to using my computer files and watt it Works for me.

              1. re: bayoucook

                bayoucook, have you are anyone else used a hand held scanner to scan a recipe out of a book to a file which you can load into your computer? I am dumb on those things, do you know anything about that??

                1. re: cstout

                  What I do is google the recipe with the name of the cookbook and then compare it to my physical copy, if they are the same I just copy and paste it from online. Since food and cooking is such a popular topic I have very recipes I had to manually type in.

                  1. re: rasputina

                    Dear rasputina...that is a great about simplify are with it.

                  2. re: cstout

                    I could to that, but I like my low-tech way of doing it. I already have a zillion recipes online. I have over 1800 on epicurious alone! Several of my notebooks I keep in the kitchen because they have my most tried and true and most want-to-cook-soon recipes in them. I try to keep in close "contact" with all of the ones I've put together. EYB takes care of the rest.

                2. re: Junie D

                  Junie D, I would go nuts trying to organize by season....doesn't really matter here in Tx though, the seasons are so subtle that one hardly notices a season has come & gone. How do you find a recipe that is in one of your cookbooks though???

                  1. re: cstout

                    By season is the only way I can organize fruit and vegetable recipes. If you don't think Texas has noticeable seasons, I'd bet money you aren't from there ;-) I make copies of cookbook recipes and glue them into the notebooks.

                    1. re: Junie D

                      Junie D, yep, born & raised here, but I forgot to mention, I am in a little spot down the road from Luckenbach...kinda in a valley & it never does anything except get hot & hotter, cold & colder. We are in an extreme drought now. Guess I stand corrected on the weather thing, I could make a winter & summer folder.

                      1. re: cstout

                        I stand corrected - you disproved my theory. I am a native Northern Californian and every fall there is an article in the paper here by some sad displaced Easterner moaning about how we don't have a "real fall." I write back to the editor, "If you don't think we have a real fall, you aren't paying attention. And by the way, go back to Connecticut."

                        There you go - winter and summer folders!

                    2. re: cstout

                      Same here in South Mississippi. We have summer, summer, summer, and a cold spell every now and then.

                  2. I tried Eat Your Books but they don't have all my cookbooks on their site.

                    I use the Mac Gourmet app on my computer and just copy my favorite recipes into it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rasputina

                      I don't know what a Mac Gourmet is...will have to check that out....thanks.

                    2. Eat Your Books sounds like a great application, but I never seem to get around to using it. So I've developed a low-tech solution that works great for our household. As I read a cookbook I make a note of recipes I want to try, either by bookmarking the page or writing the name of the recipe and the page number down on a single sheet of paper. If I use bookmarks, eventually I do make a list. Then I either keep the list inside the front cover of the cookbook, or add the book's title to the top of the page and file the list together with other books' lists in my recipe binder.

                      I've also made a list that I keep adding to of the family favorites - those recipes that we turn to again and again, so when I'm stumped for what to cook I and lack ambition, I scan the favorites list for some inspiration.

                      These lists are hand-written, because I don't keep my laptop in the kitchen, don't use the laptop when I cook and don't usually have it turned on when I'm reading. It's low tech, most certainly not comprehensive like I expect Eat Your Books would be, but it's good enough for me. Most importantly, it works for me.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: janniecooks

                        Your system is one that I was thinking of doing...just cannot get motivated to pull out a cookbook...go through each page & say, "yeah, this might be a good one to list on the front cover or sheet of paper." Yep, slow going. That sort of thing needs to be done as soon as the cookbooks comes into my possession, that way it is done.

                        1. re: cstout

                          Yes, it could be a bit of a task. But, I love to read and browse through my cookbooks over and over again, so I don't find it much of a chore. I'm too lazy to type recipes into my PC, when I already have a hard copy version in the book, and scanning and creating a PDF to either print out or have on my PC for later reference is too convoluted. Easier for me just to make a note of where the recipe can be found and keep those notes separate!

                          1. re: janniecooks

                            You know it's amazing what you will select from the cookbook when you are hungry...later on you go back to those selections & say, "why in the world did mark this one to try?" Oh well,it is a wonderful thing we have our cookbooks, recipes & pages from everywhere...everything is fine until we try to find what we think we are looking for.

                            1. re: janniecooks

                              You can take that just one step further. Start a page in Word called Recipes to Try or whatever, and list the names, book and page number. These can be arranged any way you want as you go along. Then just keep the list on your computer desk top to update or review at will. Easier than keeping track of a bunch of notes. I keep all kinds of to-dos and reminders that way and love the convenience.

                              1. re: MazDee

                                Very simple...good the "desktop" idea...the computer is where we are most of the time when we are not in the kitchen.

                            2. re: cstout

                              I do ALL of mine like that. I write every recipe that I want to try on sheets of paper with the book title and sheet page on it, staple them, and keep them in a pitcher in the kitchen. I also have a master list of recipes to cook sooner rather than later that I keep on my fridge.

                            3. re: janniecooks

                              I use those little post it tabs for marking pages in cookbooks.

                              1. re: rasputina

                                Nay nay for me...those little post it tabs drive me absolutely crazy...something about all those little things sticking out everywhere disturbs my thought process. Oh well, there are some things I can't handle in life....big post it tabs are ok....but those little bitty ones give me the willies. Thanks for the suggestion though...I am sure someone else out will love the idea.