Learn how to organize loose recipes from your favorite magazines with these simple but smart recipe storage ideas.
There’s a stack of magazines (ok, three stacks if I’m being honest) in our family room, and each one includes at least two recipes I’d like to try at some point. Or, share with my husband since he does most of the cooking around here.
But it’s pretty difficult to find the right recipe in one magazine, let alone stacks of them, and over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few loose recipes. To keep them organized, I use a few different methods, including a digital cookbook.
If you’re ready to declutter your recipe collection and organize them in a way that makes sense to you, here are five smart options to try.
How to Organize Loose Recipes: Where to Begin
Before you choose a recipe storage idea to organize all your loose recipes, you need to do these steps first:
- Declutter your recipe collection by recycling magazine pages or recipe cards that you will never try, or tried and didn’t like.
- Spend 20 minutes skimming your magazine collection (set a timer!) and pull out recipes you like or want to try. Then, recycle the magazines.
- Decide which recipe categories make sense to you (I’ll share suggestions in a minute) and write each one on a sticky note.
- Place your sticky notes on the kitchen table or counter, and sort your stack of loose recipes into each category.
Categories you can use include:
- Eggs & Cheese
- Slowcooker/Instant Pot
- Side Dishes
Now that you’ve decluttered and categorized your recipes, it’s time to choose the best recipe storage system for your needs.Hungry? Make it easy to find your favorite recipe with these brilliant tips!
5 Simple and Smart Ways to Organize Loose Recipes
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1. Set Up an Accordion File System
If you want to organize loose recipes fast, then you can’t beat an accordion file folder. I set up this system a few years ago and it works wonderfully because when I find a recipe in a magazine I just pop it in the folder.
- Accordion file folder for 8.5″x11″ paper (use a sturdy one made from plastic)
- Label maker or tape and a Sharpie permanent marker
Use your label maker (or a piece of tape and a Sharpie) to make a label for each section of the folder based on the categories you chose earlier. Then, simply place each category stack in the corresponding section of the folder.
Our recipe folder lives on our kitchen bookshelf with our organized cookbooks.
2. Create a Recipe Binder
The drawback to the accordion file system is that if you have lots of recipes in one category, it’s not always easy to find the one you’re looking for. To organize recipes in a binder you’ll need:
- 3-ring binder (Choose a binder size based on the number of recipes you need to organize. I recommend at least a 2-inch binder if you plan to use plastic page protectors.)
- Plastic page protectors
- Sticky tab dividers (these tab dividers are repositionable and writable)
- Printable recipe binder pages (available in my shop)
Plastic page protectors are a bit bulky, but keep wet or sticky ingredients from ruining your paper recipes. I think we all have that favorite magazine recipe that’s covered in olive oil!
Use the category pages from your recipe binder printable pack to divide your new DIY cookbook by slipping the pages in a plastic protector. Then, stick on a tab divider and write in the category names (or use your label maker) to make each section even easier to find.
As you add your loose recipes, be sure to put two back-to-back in each page protector to maximize space.12-Page Simple Recipe Binder (Printable)
3. Make a Recipe Scrapbook
If you love making scrapbooks, this is a great DIY cookbook option for you!
When we were a bit younger and all getting married, my childhood friends started a tradition of making a cookbook for every bride. We gathered up photos from decades of friendship with the bride and our favorite recipes, then had a “cookbook party” to make the scrapbook together.
Each page of the recipe scrapbook represents a different friend and holds amazing memories as well as a delicious recipe.
While a DIY cookbook is a fantastic bridal shower gift, you can also make one with recipes and photos to represent your family’s favorites. Gather up photos of your grandma and her hand-written recipe cards to make a special recipe scrapbook that represents your relationship (and her delicious chocolate chip cookies).
4. Create a Digital Cookbook with 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 for many things, including organizing recipes in a digital cookbook.
Two of my favorite Evernote features are:
- The ability to access your online notebooks from multiple devices whether of note you’re connected to the internet.
- You can clip online recipes you find on Pinterest AND scan and organize loose recipes from magazines.
I won’t get into the details here since I have a whole tutorial on using Evernote to organize recipes on the computer, so I encourage you to check out that article for the full how-to.
5. Use a Recipe Cards With a Twist
Whenever I think of recipe boxes, I think of my grandmothers with their perfectly handwritten recipe cards. My handwriting is terrible thanks to years of typing, and my fingers cramp up at the mere thought of transferring magazine recipes to index cards by hand.
Luckily, nowadays you can buy editable recipe cards. Just purchase the digital file, edit it with Adobe Reader (a free program), and print out a nice and neat recipe card.
Organizing loose recipes on cards in a recipe box definitely takes longer than the other ideas shared here. But, if you prefer paper to digital recipes, a card box takes up very little counter space.
Get Your Printable Recipe Binder Pages!
Love the idea of organizing paper recipes in an easy-to-use binder? My 12-page printable recipe binder pack will help you get started.12-Page Simple Recipe Binder (Printable)
Check out these other ideas!
- How to Create a Digital Cookbook with Evernote
- 9 Clever Cookbook Storage Ideas to Try In Your Kitchen
- 5 Smart Ways to Organize Cleaning Supplies Under the Kitchen Sink
- 5 Broom Closet Organization Ideas to Simplify Your Cleaning Routine