In a totally anti-Pinterest technology fashion, I’ve been scheming up a new way to organize my recipes. Good, ol’ fashion recipe magazine tear outs, you remember those, right? About once a month when I scour all of the publications we subscribe to, I find myselves with more and more recipes that we want to try, but moreover, what it results in is stacks of torn magazine pages covering every surface of our coffee table and kitchen island.
This obviously isn’t my traditional home improvement, decor type of post, but it is a method of home betterment and self-merriment, so maybe it’ll challenge you to get your act into gear too.
Before getting all of our recipes sorted in a sequential manner, I rehabbed a metal index card box that I picked up from the free bin at a garage sale last spring.
Rust is a little intimidating, it’s a sign of severe weakness, or at least Ron Swanson might accuse it as such. Plus, it can make anything ordinary seem downright filthy. To fix it up, I used a palm sander to smooth down the exterior of the box to rid the raised rust spots and take it back to being almost completely smooth, hand sanded the interior of the box for the same reason, and carefully applied three coats of glossy, glossy gray spray paint inside and out to get it back into shape. I love me some glossy, and even though I expected it to show off whatever leftover irregularities there were in the deteriorating metal, the finished result looks surprisingly wonderful.
For additional mental sanity, I added little sugru feet to the bottom of the recipe box to lessen any chance of it’s metal frame scratching up our smooth acrylic countertop.
This gets all foodie- and self-challenge nerdy when I start to talk recipe organization strategy:
- I sorted our dozens of magazine tear outs into simple categories. I’ve chosen desserts/breads (of which there aren’t many), side dishes, and main dishes. Obviously, you could go crazy sorting into different categories–and I almost did but I caught myself gettin’ crazy-eyed and pared things back–like chicken, beef, sandwiches, casseroles, smoothies, salads, etc.
- The recipes were arranged in the box, by category, folded into the size of index cards, and labeled with simple sticky labels that I picked up for $1.60. I folded the labels and wrote directly on them, so that they present like tabs). Re-labeling was a perk, making it easier for me to pick a recipe by a few word description (like “chicken enchiladas”) on the tab rather than by it’s foodie-tastic copywriten lingo (like “grilled lime-infused chicken with double-fire red sauce and cheddar-colby cheese enchiladas”). There are some vague “Soup Recipe” and “Leftover Steak Ideas” tabbed in there too, mostly from Real Simple magazine because that particular pub offers up many recipes of the same category on a single magazine page. And they always all look good. Side note: There’s never leftover steak. I’m feelin’ all carnivore-ish just talking about this.
- I challenged us (we both cook, not expertly, but well) to make each recipe at least once. There seems to be enough of an influx with new recipes where we can throw away a recipe for casserole that’s only so-so, or a dessert that ended up being too time consuming, or something that ended up having a radically expensive or pretentious ingredient. The recipes that are deemed winners can stay put and we’re reminded to keep them in our regular cycle of meals; you would be surprised how many times we’ve made chicken and veggie lo mein lately just because the recipe is there. Plus, I’m never without lo mein noodles in the house, ever since the first time we tried the recipe. It is so worth it.
- We try new recipes, and I keep the recipe tear outs under control. Win-win.
I still use Pinterest, but less so for family dinner night meals and more so when we’re in a pinch and looking for something that can be made quick and easy, especially if we’re on the way to a par-tay and want to try a fresh recipe pre-tested by foodie bloggers.
Sorting recipes into the box has been so effective and easy and simplifying that I’ve even disassembled two binders full of recipe tear sheets that we never bothered to reference because, hello, the binders are annoying to thumb through every day when we’re planning for dinner.
What are your tried and true recipe organization tactics?