What’s Cookin’? Smart Storage Tips for Recipe Books

Surprise! Some of us still use honest-to-goodness cookbooks. Keep your collection organized with these simple tips.

Finished Stand With Cookbook

By: AnnaMaria Stephens

Cookbooks have been around in some shape or form for about as long as civilization.

Two thousand years before Julia Child’s seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one top chef at the height of ancient Roman culture published a tome of nearly 500 recipes. The contemporary home cook may be more likely to pull up an online recipe or video for kitchen guidance, but that doesn’t mean the classic cookbook is toast. And when it comes to organizing your recipes at home, it doesn’t matter whether you prefer old-fashioned solutions or new. As long as you have ingredients and instructions at your fingertips, inspiration is sure to follow.  

Get organized with a folder system. While the traditional recipe box still makes regular appearances in kitchens, a folder might be better. "I created a big binder of all my recipe cards and all the recipes I’ve torn out of magazines," explains Miami-based professional organizer Beth Levin, who also creates binders for interested clients of her company Closet Queen. "I put each page in a plastic sleeve so they don’t get dirty and use tabs to separate items into subcategories." But don’t let the folder get out of control, "If you don’t like a recipe, throw that sheet in the garbage."

Tidy online recipe folders too. Many readers of popular food sites and blogs bookmark so many recipes that they lose track of hits and misses, not to mention all those dishes they salivated over yet have never attempted to make.

Find an out-of-the-way spot to stash your collection. "My husband won’t let me get rid of cookbooks," admits professional organizer Kathi Burns, of San Diego’s Add Space to Your Life! "Even though we never use them, we love them." Her advice? Pare down your collection to your absolute favorites and find a place for them, whether behind some pots and pans in a cabinet or on a shelf where they won’t be subject to kitchen spills and splatter. Visually stimulating books might even find a spot in your regular library.

There’s an app for that. "A lot of my clients have recipe problems like we do, and I recommend EverNote," says Burns. "Next time you’re at the beauty salon and see a recipe for pasta salad that looks amazing, don’t tear the page out of the magazine — take a picture of it with your phone, then file it by description and keywords. EverNote eliminates paper clutter. It works for organizing other information as well."

There’s another app (among many others). Though Levin personally prefers her binder, she is a fan of the site Eat Your Books for her clients. "It’s like creating your own personalized digital cookbook," she explains. Users can add the cookbooks they own to a digital bookshelf and create a searchable index of recipes.They can also share recipes with other members — whatever it takes to get cooking.

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