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Homefries University

Recipe Organizing

High Straightenence by Tracy Benjamin

A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.

If you’re anything like me, you love looking at/collecting recipes. It can be tough to keep track of it all, huh? It’s overwhelming! Today I want to show you how I organize mine. I’ve got myself a little system.  Here’s how I keep track.

I use a Moleskine journal first of all. Then I have a recipe folder where I keep all of my magazine cut-outs.

You can see more about the Recipe Folder on my website. I’ve been using it for awhile.

In my journal I’ve made a few sections for food. I’ll talk about that more later. But this is the food section.

I have a list of Recipes To Make:

On the top you can see the ones that I have yet to post on Shutterbean.

You can see my list of what I want to make.

I write down the magazine the recipe came from & the name of the recipe.

If it’s from a cookbook, I include the page #

I usually keep the recipes I want to make right away folded in my journal for safe keeping.

The other ones I want to make live in the RECIPE FOLDER. And when I am done typing up the recipe, the cut-out gets put in the recycling. Done.

OK. Let’s talk cookbooks!

There are so many recipes in a cookbook, how do you narrow down what you want to make?

It’s easy. You use a big post-it. Lemme show you.

I go through a cookbook and write down all of the recipes I have my eye on.

Ummm this cookbook had too many things I wanted to make. This is just my first round!

I write down the recipe name and put the page number next to it for quick reference.

Things that particularly entice/excite me get the all CAPS treatment.

So then I put the sticky notes in the front page of the cookbook so I can open it up and see all of the recipes I want to make.

Sometimes I put the sticky note on the outside cover.

Sometimes I use a highlighter so a recipe can stand out more. I live dangerously.

And when I’m online looking at good recipes, I pin them on Pinterest.

This is my board called NOM WORTHY.  Cuz everything there is…well…


Worthy of nom.



And I also have a Board on Pinterest where I post my recipes. It’s called


Because they have.

It’s nice to be able to look at thumbnails of my recipes. It helps when I’m meal planning.

I have a bunch more to pin!



And if there’s something I see in a cookbook that I see in a bookstore, I take a picture with my camera phone and send it to an Evernote folder on my phone.

More on Evernote soon! I’m still navigating my way through it.

Do you have any recipe organizing tips? Do share!




Tracy Benjamin

Tracy Benjamin is obsessed with good food, great photography, and pretty things.


  • Christine S September 12, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I sent an e-mail about this exact topic and was hoping you and Joy would share your process…odd timing or did I inspire this post :) Thanks for the great ideas!!

  • Diane, A Broad September 12, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I loooooove Evernote! I use it for everything. I have a “Recipe Queue” folder that I use like your journal/recipe folder. If I find anything in a cookbook or magazine, I can take a picture and send it to that folder, and if I find anything online, I can clip the recipe and Evernote remembers the URL for me. You can also tag everything (e.g. desserts, salads, snacks) for easy searching. Then once I’ve made a recipe, I move it to my “Recipes Made” folder.

    It’s also really convenient for non-recipe stuff like shared grocery lists with the people you live with. If at least one of you has the premium version, you can create a shared folder with someone you know that has Evernote. My gentleman and I share a folder with grocery list in it, so if either of us happens to be going to the market, we’ll know if the other wants us to pick something up without having to ask. We also have notes like “Movies We Should Watch Together” and “Home Improvements” and “Things to Do In the City (aka date ideas).”

    Do I sound like an evangelist yet?

  • Jane M September 12, 2012 at 4:26 am

    Welp now I’m going to learn how to use Evernote! Thanks for sharing.

  • Erica September 12, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I’m a big fan of keeping the pictures of recipes. I use a browser add-on called screen capture to take a “screenshot” of the recipe webpages that I like. The best thing about the add-on is that you can screenshot the entire page, not just what is visible like with Print Screen. Then I sort those screen shots in my Recipe folder on my computer. I have folders for drinks, main dishes, sides, desserts, snacks, etc. Within each of these folders I have subfolders “Tested & Approved” “Try Soon” and then “Never Made”.

    For magazines, I just have a folder with sheets cut out.

    For cookbooks I use those little post it flags on the page of the recipe I like, and write the name of the recipe on the top of it so I don’t have to open to every page.

  • Amy September 12, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I need to know about these big post-it’s. Where are they from? I’m already obsessed. Love the washi tape, too!

    • Tracy September 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      I got the post-its AND tape from Target!!

      • larizza October 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        Where in Target did you find the tape? I have searched everywhere and I can’t a place that sells it! I’ve looked at every craft store and still nothing. :( BOO!

        • Tracy October 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

          Oh no! I’ve had the washi tape since the beginning of the summer so I’m not sure if it IS or ISN’T there still. I haven’t needed to buy more. If I remember correctly it was over near the post-its aisle. Where all of the mailing supplies are. If you look near the magnets by Up & Up they should be around that section. I hope that helps and I hope they still have it!

  • Anne September 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

    My boyfriend and I have a shared google doc titled “YUMMAY”, where we copy/paste links to tried & tested recipes that have turned out exceptionally. If it’s in a cookbook we own, we just list the title so we don’t forget about its existence.

    If we’re having people over for dinner, we go straight to the YUMMAY list for ideas on what to make.

  • Elaine September 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

    What? I do the exact same thing with post-it notes and cookbooks. I even use the same pen. Creepy or awesome? I don’t know…

    After I’ve made something, I’ll either cross it out if we didn’t like it, underline the page number if it was OK, or draw a box around the number if it was a home run for the whole family. Most of the recipes I try are for dinner for my family of picky eaters, so I need to remember.

  • Darlene September 12, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I love evernote! I use it to keep track of blog posts too, what to make for them, what I still want to make and random ideas for new series to start. I also have several binders that I keep recipes I’ve clipped out of magazines or photocopied from cookbooks I’ve gotten at the library but choose not to buy (yet).

    The other tool I use is called a demi. You can enter your recipes online and then “sync” them to your little demi reader and use it in your kitchen while you are making it! It’s pretty awesome, more then it sounds. It’s way easier then trying to prop the page of a cookbook open. Here’s a link: http://www.keyingredient.com/reader

    My boyfriend got it for me for christmas 2 years ago and now we both love it.

  • Lou September 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    i love those big post-its too. great tips, i won’t be folding down corners of my precious cookbooks anymore!

  • Abby @ totesdelishblog September 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I was just getting overwhelmed by all the recipes I want to make,so needed this!

  • kmarie September 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Love your ideas and organizing tips. I’ve been meaning to ask you to talk more about using Evernote, and it seems like that’s on your to-do list. Yay!

  • Christina September 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I have been struggling with ways to organize my recipes also! I literally have piles all over my house. I can’t even imagine trying to find 1 recipe because it would take me forever to find it. Thanks for the tip! I need to get a small folder ASAP!

  • choicesustenance September 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I have an excel spreadsheet to keep organized. That way, if I have something in mind, like cooking with sweet potatoes, I can do a “find” & see all the sweet potato recipes that I’ve bookmarked & where the recipe can be found.

  • accordingtocarey September 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Love LOVE Evernote, I have several recipe folders on it that I can access from my computer/iphone/ipad, it’s the best! I also use my Google Reader to organize recipes I see on my favorite blogs that I want to try. I just add “tags” like snacks, beef, pumpkin, etc. and when I want to find the recipes I just look under that tag or do a simple search.

  • Shelley September 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I use Food Gawker and Microsoft Word documents. I am too lazy to post everything I want in a cookbook at the front of the book, plus, I enjoy going through them.
    When I plan my weekly meals, which is in another Word Document, I put things I am considering for soon/the following week under that week’s meal plan. This meal plan also goes on my wipe off board which has my homework/work schedule, etc on it too.
    I use a word document this way: I state the date, then underneath post links to recipes I have found and wanted to make. I leave about ten or so before stating another date.
    The thing I like about this is if I am searching for a certain ingredient, I can type CTRL+F and look for something with “zucchini” or “tomato”, etc. it is also somewhat seasonally organized, by the posts I take in, so that’s good too. it helps me a lot as a college student who is obsessed with food!

  • MaryBeth September 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This is what I TRY to do with recipes but I tend to end up grabbing my notebook and writing random things in it or tearing pages out then forgetting it on the shelf!

    Maybe I need one of those giant post-it’s to stick on my face so I remember to include it when I’m brainstorming new recipes!

  • Erin September 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the great suggestions, Tracy. Can you please elaborate a little more on how you go about “typing up” your recipes?

    • Tracy September 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Oh. I take the recipe and type it out on my blog so other people can have the recipe. Then it’s on my website for people to see.

  • jenn September 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    so inspired by this post! the post it in the cookbook is absolute genius!

  • Linda September 13, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Tracy, Phil bought a mortar and pestle and a mandoline the other day at Williams Sonoma.
    Not being the cooker in the family, I don’t have a clue what to do with either of these things or any of the other fancy gadgets he has bought. The people who work at WS recognize a sucker when they see one!

  • Lia September 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    This is just my fave post of yours ever ever EVER! I was >< this close to buying one of those moleskin recipe diaries today at Waterstones, but it was just to faffy! Your system is so much better!

  • Sini September 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    It’s always the same problem: how on earth to organize all these fantastic have-to-make recipes. I use post-its for cookbooks and magazines (I don’t like to cut them out of magazines cause I want to have them whole… That’s just one of my “things” ;). For recipes on the internet I use the bookmark function on Mozilla Firefox (I wish Safari would have a similar bookmarking system as well). As I love Moleskins I may try your organization style as well! Great post, Tracy.

  • Jessica @ The Desert Abode September 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing your process! I really like the idea of writing down all the recipes you want to try in a cookbook. I just started a food journal a few days ago because I knew if I didn’t write down all the recipes I wanted to try for fall that I would lose track of them! :)

  • Sarah September 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    When I bought the Office suite from my school for pretty cheap, it came with OneNote. Generally, I pin recipes to try on pinterest. Once I make them and decide they are really yummy. I copy the recipe into my OneNote. I also use that to type up recipes I come around randomly too or from magazines.

  • Kendra September 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Great ideas. The post-it on the cookbook is great. So simple. So helpful. I use Bento for recipes I’ve tried and loved since I don’t have a blog. It’s a database sort of program that Apple puts out, and it’s great for keeping track of lots of things. I use it for recipes mostly since it has a star system, recipe categories, and ways to customize notes of adjustments you made to recipes, how well it went over, ideas on when to serve it, etc. If a recipe from a magazine, blog, or whatever gets made in my house and we would enjoy having it again, it gets put in Bento. Then I have a go-to place to find recipes I know will work if I’m not in the try-something-new mood. Thanks for the ideas! Target tomorrow for a giant post-it pad!

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  • Martine September 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I’m trying to go all digital for my recipe organizing – it’s so handy to search by ingredient, style, etc. My stack of cutouts was getting overwhelming to the point that I wasn’t making any of them because they were not accessible. I have two systems I use.

    For recipes I’ve made, I transfer them all to MacGourmet. That way I have a catalogue of everything I’ve cooked. In MacGourmet I also create mini cookbooks for special occasions (Thanksgiving, a party, etc) that I print so I can easily flip back and forth while I’m cooking several things at once (or attempting to).

    For recipes I want to make, I keep them all in an Evernote folder. It’s so easy – I can email them directly to my Evernote folder (@recipe in the subject line), or use the web clipper to send them to the folder. I also take pictures using my phone from magazines and send them to Evernote (they say that there’s text recognition in the pictures, I haven’t tried it out yet to confirm). From there, everything is searchable and all the pretty pictures are there for me to look at.

    The only thing wrong with this system is that I miss the tactile experience of thumbing through cookbooks and flipping trough cutouts. I love your idea of putting a list of all the recipes I want to try on the inside of a cookbook cover – brilliant!

  • Judi Setzer Cowart September 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

    LOVE all your ideas – AND your handwriting! So pretty!

  • Amanda September 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    My sister and I used to use a Google Bookmarks list to share recipes – we could both post to the list, and if my computer died i could still access all my bookmarks easily. We could both leave notes on them, too. Then Google ditched that functionality, so we went searching for a new solution. Enter: ZipList! We can both post recipes straight from the interwebs via browser bookmarklet, and then we can still leave notes. Plus, you can use it to put together your shopping list every week. I think it’s still working out a few kinks, but it’s so helpful for being able to organize and share recipes!

  • Anna November 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I use Paprika recipe manager apps to sort all of the recipes I find online, it’s a great program. I’m a little nuts with it on my phone, iPad, and computer, it syncs them all and I use the grocery list part on my phone at the store. But you inspired me to start a notebook to organize all of the recipes from cookbooks that I forget about! I’m giving the ones I’m most excited for the all caps treatment, and circling the page number if I’ve made it before and want to make it again. You always motivate me to be more organized :)

  • Chineka @ Savorthebaking November 14, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I love this post Tracy. I too have a recipe folder, but I am going to start getting a little more organized with my recipe cataloging system. I will try out your sticky note organization too with my cookbooks.

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