Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or the occasional cook, quick and easy access to your favorite recipes makes mealtime prep so much easier. Learn how to organize recipes with a digital cookbook you can access where and when you need it. This post contains affiliate links; please read my disclosures for more information.
It’s in the dog-eared 400-page cookbook somewhere…the delicious taco recipe with the raisins in it that your kids like way better than the packaged taco mix. But the little hooligans are hungry, you have to make school lunches, help with homework, and prepare for tomorrow’s work presentation. There’s no time to rummage around for the perfect taco recipe when there’s a package of hardly palatable seasonings in the pantry.
I used to impulse-buy cookbooks and cooking magazines. My purchases were typically hunger-based and made while checking out at the grocery store right before dinner or at Barnes and Noble during my lunch break. The image of a glistening roasted chicken on the cover was just too good to pass up.
After years of collecting cooking magazines and books, my husband (the main chef in our house) and I came to an important realization: we only use a few of the recipes in our library.
So, I gave away several cookbooks and recycled the magazines that didn’t hold our favorites.
But we still shuffled through our collection to find what we wanted, all while our kids begged us to put dinner on the table RIGHT NOW.
Does this sound familiar?
Wouldn’t dinnertime be so much easier if you could:
- Quickly find your favorite recipe every time you need it
- Easily share recipes with friends and family
- Have the list of ingredients at your fingertips while scanning your pantry or shopping at the store?
I learned how to organize recipes with a digital cookbook that’s perfect for storing yummy ideas from Pinterest, magazines and your mom’s old recipe cards!This recipe organization trick will make your mom jealous!Click To Tweet
How to Organize Recipes Digitally: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Download and Install Evernote
Evernote is a fantastic desktop and mobile app for organizing your whole life! A well-respected colleague recommended it to me years ago, and I use it daily to:
- Store important documents electronically (a virtual filing cabinet)
- Keep track of charitable donations and tax documents
- Track holiday gifting and spending
- Plan kids’ parties
- Organize blog ideas
- Manage guest lists
- Write to-do lists
- Organize recipes (of course!)
There are free and paid Evernote plans, and I subscribe to Evernote Plus. The Plus features that I use most often include syncing across multiple devices, accessing notebooks offline, and forwarding emails into Evernote. To get the most out of the tool, download and install the desktop app, mobile app, and web clipper.
Step 2: Create a Notebook and Tags to Hold and Identify Your Recipes
Once you’ve installed Evernote, open the program and hold your cursor over the word “Notebooks” until you see a + symbol. Click the + symbol to create a new notebook specifically for all of your recipes.
Next, hold your cursor over the word “Tags” until you see a + symbol. Click the + symbol to create a variety of tags to help with your recipe organization. Tag ideas include:
- Quick Dinners
- Side Dishes
Step 3: Organize Recipes from the Web with the Evernote Web Clipper
When you discover a mouth-watering recipe online, you probably save it to your generic “Yummy!” board on Pinterest. Although Pinterest is a great tool to search for new recipes, your boards fill quickly with ones you’ll never try.
Next time you find and actually try a recipe on Pinterest, use the Evernote Web Clipper on your desktop to save it to your digital cookbook.
When you find a recipe on the web, click on the little Evernote elephant icon in your toolbar (this example is for Chrome). You will see a pop-up that gives you various ways to clip the recipe and allows you to select the notebook in which you want to save the recipe and a chance to add tags. Selecting the “Simplified Article” strips out unnecessary graphics and does not use as much data as it would if you select “Article”.
Why not keep the recipe in your Pinterest account? Because if you love this recipe, you’ll want to easily find it again, which is not as intuitive in Pinterest as it is in Evernote. Once in Evernote, you can edit or annotate the recipe based on your own modifications. Prefer to use less salt or more sugar? You can make a note of it right on the recipe.
Save a recipe on your mobile device by clicking the little “send” icon (on your iPhone) and selecting Evernote from the list of options.
Step 4: Organize Printed Recipes, Too!
Do you have a lot of cookbooks, a stack of old “Cooking Light” magazines, a pile of recipes clipped from newspapers, or coffee-stained computer print-outs? How about a box of recipe cards?
If your kitchen is cluttered with this stuff, you have more recipes than you can possibly use in a given year. Unless you’re one of those over-achieving types who cooks something different every single day like the character in Julie & Julia.
Years ago, my mom and grandma organized their favorite recipes by creating a master recipe index in what’s now a very well-worn spiral-bound notebook.
They painstakingly reviewed all of their cookbooks, photo albums filled with magazine and newspaper clippings, and decades-old index cards to find their most well-loved recipes. Then, they created a simple, hand-written index to note where to find each recipe by indicating the page and book name or number (they assigned numbers to some books).
Grandma passed away several years ago, but my mom’s recipe organization remains the same.
So what’s the problem? Mom identified her go-to recipes, but must still search through her vast library of cookbooks, albums, and cards to reach the one she wants.
Here’s what you and my mom can do instead.
How to Organize Printed Recipes in Evernote
There are two ways that I like to upload my printed recipes to Evernote:
- Take a photo of it with my phone and upload it using the “send to Evernote” icon following the steps I outlined above. This is my preferred method for recipes in cookbooks or magazines. Killing time reading a magazine in the doctor’s office waiting room, and spot a recipe that looks yummy? Just snap a pic and save it to Evernote to try later.
- Scan the recipe with a free mobile scanning app called Evernote Scannable. This works best with flat pieces of paper such as recipe cards, computer printouts, and magazine or newspaper clippings.
What if you like to write on your recipes?
Whether you want to indicate ingredients that you swapped or just a word to say how much you liked it, it’s nice to have the ability to make notes on your recipes. With Evernote, you can do this by annotating the image.
Open up Evernote on your desktop. Right-click on the image, and then select “Annotate This Image”.
A new window will open and you will see the annotation tools on the left. To annotate this recipe, I drew a box around our favorite stuffing variation. Then, I selected the text option to add “Yummy!”. Be sure to save your changes before clicking out of the screen.
Find Your Favorite Recipes Fast!
Whether you’re in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner or in the grocery store aisle trying to remember the ingredients for your favorite dish, Evernote is a great recipe organization tool.
- Have your go-to recipes all in one place – even your grandma’s handwritten recipe cards.
- Access your recipes anytime on your computer or smartphone
- Easily find recipes using Evernote’s great search tool
- Email and print recipes right from the app
This easy-to-maintain recipe organization practice makes Taco Tuesday so much better now that we know exactly where to find our favorite recipe (it’s this one, by the way).
Happy organizing! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about using Evernote.
Check out these other ideas!
- 14 Ways to Organize Your Life for Free (and Cheap)
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- How to Create a Simple Command Center That Will Save Your Sanity
- How to Make a Magnetic Chalkboard Wall That Will Keep You Organized
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