Learn how to organize recipes electronically with a digital cookbook you can access where and when you need it, whether you’re a seasoned home chef or an occasional cook. Quick and easy access to your favorite recipes makes mealtime prep so much easier!
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 cookbooks and cooking magazines, 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.
- Gave away several cookbooks
- Organized cookbooks we wanted to keep
- Organized loose recipes we clipped from the magazines and recycled magazines not worth keeping
But we still shuffled through our collection of unorganized loose recipes and cookbooks 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 electronically 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!
How to Organize Recipes Electronically: Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1: Download and Install Evernote
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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
After you install 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 notes 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).
Get the Printable Step-by-Step Instructions
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Get The Digital Cookbook Instructions!
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OMG. I came to the realization I needed to do something with all my cookbooks and recipes. This is a GREAT idea. I am going to have to try this. Thank you so much. :)))))
You’re so welcome! It’s been great so far. I still enjoy reading cookbooks and searching for recipes online, but at least now most of the go-to ones are in one spot. It’s a work in progress! I keep adding more old recipes to Evernote when I have the chance.
Sarah Bell says
Such a great idea! I didn’t realize you could do all that with Evernote…good to know 🙂
Trendy & Tidy
Yes, it’s such a handy tool! I’ve used it for a few years but am still learning new ways to use it.
Sledgehammer Queen says
How long did it take you to learn Evernote? I’ve thought about using it, but it seems like a difficult program to use.
Not too long at all if you are using it in a basic way, which I’ve done for the past few years. I recently learned how to annotate, which I don’t need to do very often except for the recipes. They have a whole tips & tutorials page on their site: https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/categories/10681-Tips-Tutorials
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
I love Evernote!It’s such a wonderful tool for organizing, I didn’t know about the “annotation” thanks for showing how to do this.
You’re welcome! I feel like there’s so much more to learn with Evernote, even though I’ve used it for years. It has loads of potential!
Hi Laura, I’ve tried to subscribe to the mailing list to get the free printable for How to Organize Printed Recipes in Evernote, but have not received it. Is there another way I can get access to this? Thanks so much!!
I just sent you an email with the instructions to access the library of printables. 🙂
Terry Flannery says
Many thanks for the article – it clearly shows how to accomplish this task. I believe that I will go this route. One question – while I don’t mind “using the Cloud” for recipes and such – I want to be the holder of the data. So when I send a recipe to Evernote etc. can I sync the evernote “Database” to my desktop database?
Many thanks for the great article.
Not familiar with Evernote, but these instructions are really clear! One question though, what do you do when you have a recipie to save from a cookbook that is on more than one page? Do you take pictures of each page and link them somehow?
Wow . This is great. I’m going to start doing this right away. Love the content and the theme of your blog 😀 Going to explore it now:) All the best in everything you do
I’m a very tactile and sentimental person. Do you ever struggle with digitizing things and missing the feel of the paper? Do you worry about not having those things…..touching and feeling and flipping through them? I’m a lover of all things vintage and I can’t help but think…..how do you pass down digital recipes? There’s something so precious and sweet about all of the old cookbooks. Especially those old church and community cookbooks. They’re not necessarily mass market and I just worry about the loss of these things. I’m totally rambling of course. I’m just one of those people stuck between two worlds….the love of the physical and sentimental things and then loving (and also appreciating) simplifying and having it all in one place, not cluttering the shelves. I don’t know that there’s necessarily a point to my comment. Ha! Maybe to get thoughts on when you’re struggling and being torn between both ways? I do love the idea of using Evernote and having it all right there. Searchable and organized.
Martie Crone says
Is there a way to search for ingredients? For example, the asparagus is coming up. Can I search for recipes using asparagus?
Kim Moog says
Thank you, thank you! 🙂 My daughter and I are working through our recipes and this is SO very helpful! 🙂
Art Herrington, Jr says
Laura…I have nearly 5 three (3) ring binders full of recipes that I’ve printed or acquired over the years and am frequently seeing others that I am tempted to try. Yet I need someway to scan and store all of these electronically as well as to help to physically organize these for free. Any suggestions?