Friday, July 5, 2013

Meal Planning - How to organize your recipes

There are as many ways to organize recipes as there are people to cook them.  Similar to the struggle between paper planners and online calendars, recipe organization can quickly become a confusing territory of notecards and bookmarked webpages.

The most you need is two steps in the process: somewhere for recipes you want to try, and somewhere for recipes you want to keep.

Having a place for recipes to try is the first step.  For recipes I find online, I use Evernote to organize them.  I have the browser add-on that allows me to save recipes from any website, so it just takes one click to "clip" them and put them away for safe keeping.  One bonus of this system is that the Evernote notebook is searchable (using both tags and the text of the note itself), so it's easy to find things again.  The downside of this is that it really works best for things found digitally; if you tend to get ideas from searching through cookbooks, the easiest option is to scan or take a picture of the recipe and send it to the notebook.

The old-fashioned way is to make a list of what you want to try (noting where you found it, obviously).  This allows you to combine print and digital sources.

Once you find a keeper, put it somewhere permanent.  It doesn't matter if this is a card in your box, a print-off in your binder, or a post on your private blog - just have one designated place for all the recipes you want to see again.  My mom's recipe box (above) is like the Ark of the Covenant for our family's favorite recipes.  We all know that the recipe box is the first place to look for a recipe we know and love.

Another option is to make a virtual recipe box by posting to a recipe blog.  This is an especially handy option if you want to share recipes among people who are geographically distant.  Our family's page includes lots of the Recipe Box classics (many of the frequently-requested recipes that Mom got tired of typing out for her long-distance daughters), as well as new things we've tried and liked.  Give it a cute name or just stick to something basic like; it's up to you.  Like Evernote, you can add tags to each post, so that categories can be browsed.  When I'm looking for a good recipe to use up leftover chicken, I can just click on that category to see what other people and I have posted in the past.  Hands down, this may be my favorite organizational tool.

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