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Jan 4, 2013 04:43 AM

Avoiding stacks of clipped/pinned recipes and overwhelm- how are you getting from clipped/pinned recipes--> meal plans --> cooking?

I clip and pin recipes all the time (anyone else keep scissors on their bedside table for this?), not to mention being a serious cookbook addict. All the recipes that I've already made are wonderfully organized and accessible (in separate 3 ring binders w/plastic page protectors, i.e. entrees, soups, salads, etc). My problem is that I'm not making the transition from clipping/pinning to production as successfully as I'd like. If you have a system of clipping/pinning--> meal planning --> cooking that is working for you, I'd love to hear it!

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  1. This isn't exactly what you're asking for, but it might work for you. A year ago I bought Living Cookbook, the recipe software that not only stores recipes but can be used for meal planning and even generates a shopping list from your menu.

    It comes with a bunch of recipes that I don't think much of, but I've entered many that I like from other sources - typed in from cookbooks, but also copied and pasted from the Web. In effect, I've created my personal cookbook.

    Then I've printed out the recipe(s) I'm going to use to take into the kitchen - no problem if they get spilled on, I can just throw them away. But usually I stick them in a 3-ring binder for reuse, those that are worth using again, and I keep the binder in the kitchen. It's grown into a mini-cookbook, and also a reminder of the recipes in the software that I haven't tried yet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: John Francis

      One more word in favor of Living Cookbook (or other recipe software). If you have Brussels sprouts, for example, and haven't decided what to do with them, you can summon up your Brussels sprouts recipes, review them, and decide.

      Since the recipes are automagically organized and indexed, you can accumulate as many as you want without overwhelming yourself with too many to sort through. I like it that I have four recipes for corn bread at hand, and can pick out the one that suits my mood - and the other ingredients I have; if there's no buttermilk in the fridge, that eliminates three of the recipes.

    2. Do less clipping. At the rate you're going, every recipe clipped can't equal production of a meal; it's physically impossible.

      A long time ago, I stopped clipping less, leaving recipes in magazines. Next, I stopped reading magazines, and made lists or else took cookbooks to the store with me.

      Then I took a very valuable suggestion from Marcella Hazan, and switched from following recipes to planning meals as I shopped. This is easier to do after you've been cooking for awhile.

      Now, I save a recipe on my computer every now and then; I only print them out when I decide to use them. This happens with one recipe out of 50. The rest, they were interesting to read, but I don't cook from recipes much anymore.

      I hope this helps.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jay F

        +1 It was a hard road to stop clipping, but I rarely cooked from recipes to begin with. So, I still do what I always do - stop at the store on the way home and plan dinner based on what I get from the butcher and grocers that night. AND, now I have a fishmonger nearby - wooooh!!

        1. re: breadchick

          :-D...and I thought I was the only one who did that. Luckily, the store up the street from me has a great salad bar, so I can stop in and make a tossed salad for dinner.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Up the street? Okay, now I want that too.

        2. re: Jay F

          Your admonition to "Do less clipping. At the rate you're going, every recipe clipped can't equal production of a meal; it's physically impossible" is so on target. It is refreshing and a bit profound to hear such a simple truth. My new goal is to stop clipping for the future and instead perhaps just clip recipes I can use this week or next. Thanks.

          1. re: bevelly

            +whatever # we're on! My clipped files were becoming a mess, and I felt overwhelmed. I've let 3 cooking magazine subscriptions expire (a 2-fer: less clutter and saved $), and I realize that I don't miss them at all. Now have begun a serious winnowing out of previously clipped recipes, then I'll re-org the smaller set into categories that work for me (for example, we often eat a larger portion of an "appetizer" for the main, so seldom need a category called apps). Feeling "lighter" already!

        3. I don't clip any more but I do have a file of old clippings that I should probably toss. Now I paste recipes into an email and store them in my gmail in a RECIPES folder. Each week, more or less, I look through the folder and pick a few to make. Or I have an ingredient I want to use up so I search the folder for a way to use, for example, cauliflower.

          But it is not a perfect system. Too easy to completely forget about things I've mailed to myself. At least the physical piles are smaller.

          1. Have you looked at It might help you "electronically" clip recipes. Then you can tag them as "want to try" or something and make a personal goal along the lines of cooking one "want to try" recipe per week or something. I talk a little about the "menu planning" features of pepperplate here.


            15 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Another vote for Pepperplate. I absolutely love this site. Not a lot of whistles and bells but it fulfills my needs well.

              I had been using Master Cook and transferring (manually, I might add) my recipes. Then I had a major computer crash and that was the one program that the repair guys could not recover. About a year after that I stumbled across Pepperplate. I figured why not try it out and I haven't looked back. It's FAR more user friendly and intuitive than Master Cook ever thought about being. Some of the things I like:

              * It has an automatic recipe import feature for about 25 of the major recipe sites (i.e. Epicurious, All Recipes) and food blogs (Smitten Kitten, Food52)

              * Manual entry of recipes is pretty easy, especially if it's already in electronic format, just cut & paste.

              * It allows you to categorize the recipes according to your perferences

              * Editing is easy

              * There is a menu planning feature. I've only used it for special meals, but it does have weekly meal planning function

              * Whether doing an individual recipe or a whole weeks worth of meals, you can dump them all into the shopping list and come out with a really well organized list of exactly what you need. The shopping list function also allows you to customize it to match the grocery store layout at which you most frequently shop if you want.

              * Pepperplate also comes as an app for iPad/Tablets and iPhone/Droid smart phones. I've got it loaded on my desktop, smartphone and tablet and have used it at the store to call up a recipe I've decided to make at the last minute. I've used it on my tablet when visiting and cooking with family and friends

              The one thing I don't like about Pepperplate is that there isn't a lot of "help" if you get stuck. The menu planning function isn't quite as intuitive as the rest of the functions and I wish there were better instructions on how to more effectively use it.

              But other than that one gripe Pepperplate has been a delightful find and a great solution to recipe storage and organization. Best of all it's FREE

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Yes, that's pretty much how I described pepperplate in the link I provided above, which is a link to a post I made this morning on the Home Cooking board about the menu planning features of pepperplate for someone else who was asking about it. (oh! one more thing, it's also really easy to share a recipe from your pepperplate with everyone else by email or other means. For instance, here's something I manually imported --ie., that I cut and pasted-- from CNN Eatocracy this morning:, here's the original Normally you get ingredient lists and servings and cooking time, too, with a recipe, but I was lazy and just cut and paste the entire think into the "Directions" section.) Now that we've described the benefits, I'll tell you what I don't like about pepperplate:

                1. If you halve or multiply a recipe, it doesn't stick and it doesn't double it (reliably anyway) for your grocery list.

                2. It doesn't allow you to narrow your recipe search to for multiple categories. In other words, I want the intersection of "poultry" and "Main Dish" and "fast", not a list of all recipes that meet one of those criteria.

                3. I wish the calendar were just a little more robust. For instance, I'd like to look at the "Month" calendar and have the days that have been planned appear in a different color. I'd like to be able to add more things to the calendar, such as, Tuesday is soccer night. And I'd like to be able to repeat things. Because every Tuesday is soccer night and maybe I want to repeat recipe X or menu x or week X to a future Tuesday or a future week--including the shopping list.

                4. I wish you could click on the icons on the home page to directly access your recipes or meal plan or whaver.

                5. I dislike that there's just a long list of recipes without any sorting. I wish there was a default sorting of your choosing, though I don't know how,exactly, that would work.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I agree with your assessment of the faults. I have nearly 200 recipes in Pepperplate already and not having an easy way to find what I'm looking is frustrating, especially if I don't exactly remember the name of the recipe I want.

                  I haven't used the menu planning function nearly as extensively as it looks like you have, but having used Pepperplate pretty frequently I can totally see your points about it.

                  I've been using the e-mail function a lot. I do have to warn people that the recipe will be coming to them from Pepperplate and not me, but once they know thateverything is fine.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I email the recipes to myself, then forward them to people.


                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      It looks like one could rig the menu function to serve as a basic grouping. For instance, make a "cookie" menu, then put all your cookie recipes into that menu. Or "pork". That sort of thing. I've only got 100 or so recipes right now but come to think of it I might do some sorting tonight.

                      1. re: ennuisans

                        Hmmm...interesting. Let us know how it goes!


                        1. re: ennuisans

                          I'll be curious to hear how it goes and what your outcome is

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            So far so good. What you end up with is something like the photo (if that works). The only holdup is that each recipe has "planner" as default on the right, so you have to click "menu" each time. But you can put each recipe in as many categories as you like (lentil and soup, for instance).

                            Edit: sorry it's so tiny! Hope you get the gist of it anyway.

                            1. re: ennuisans

                              Very interesting! I'm going to have to try that. How many recipes do you have and how long did it take you?


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I have 111 and have categorized about 1/4 of them so far. Each one takes about a minute (which adds up!) so I think I'll just wait until I use each one to put them in a folder. Once it's done it should make things much quicker.

                                1. re: ennuisans

                                  You know, I've decided I'm not going to do the thing where I try to do a workaround on categorizing recipes by adding recipes to menus. Once you get to the menu page, you still have to click on the menu in order to bring up a listing of recipes in that category. So, even if I add all my chicken recipes to a "menu" called chicken, I still have to go to the menus page and scroll down, then click on chicken to see them all. I don't think that's any better than typing chicken into the search function or "filtering" by chicken.

                                  Am I missing something?


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I don't think you are. Somehow I remembered the search function as working differently than it does but you're right. It's probably not an improvement except for letting you have all the categories visually in front of you.

                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Just downloaded pepperplate. Thanks for the suggestion!

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Add me to the votes for Pepperplate. And Living Cookbook. I wish I could merge them somehow. I wonder if Living Cookbook will ever have an app for iPad? That would be nice to access my LC recipes via the cloud.

                      314 Pepperplate recipes so far. I have no idea how many in LC.

                    2. I recently scanned all of my clipped recipes and added them to my computers documents archive of recipes. I started with the heap I actually had in the kitchen because I've used them over and again, and have begun going through the recipe accordian file I've had for decades. It's very fast and easy to scan in and save as a pdf or jpeg, and instead of printing them out each time I want to use one, I send it to my android phone and read them from there, well away from any ingredients I'm working with.