Recipe Organization & Categories

by Kelsey Norwood

in Organization

The next time we buy a house, I’m going to pay a LOT more attention to the kitchen. As it stands in our townhome, I have a very small kitchen and NO PANTRY. Boo hoo, right?!

As a result, I have to be very creative with my cupboard space. Mostly it’s just a hideous mess because I have waay too many kitchen toys, but how could I part with any of them? Alas, I cannot.

I digress.

One of the overflowing areas of my life and kitchen is my recipe collection. Holy cow because I love collecting recipes, I just didn’t manage them very well.

So I put something together recently and I think it’s pretty fabulous.

recipe organization

First, these are the best dividers ever. Forget the cheap paper kind, these are lots more expensive, but totally worth it ($2.88 for 5 at Walmart). They’re plastic with pockets on the front and back, which is perfect for everything but especially for a recipe book because I can “temporarily” file my new recipes in the pockets until I get around to putting them in the sheet protectors.

recipe organization notebook and plastic insertable dividers

The hardest part to organizing recipes is figuring out the categories, right?

I combined the categories from my two favorite cookbooks, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and The America’s Test Kitchen Baking Book and here’s what I came up with:

  • Dressings & Sauces
  • Appetizers
  • Salads & Sandwiches
  • Soups & Stews
  • Vegetables
  • Rice, Grains, & Beans
  • Pasta
  • Eggs & Breakfast
  • Meat
  • Slow Cooker/Pressure Cooker
  • Bread & Pizza
  • Quick Breads & Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Brownies & Bars
  • Cake
  • Pie
  • Fruit Desserts
  • Drinks
  • Preserving
  • Freezer Meals
  • Food Storage
  • Kids in the Kitchen

That pretty much covers it. That’s a ton of categories and lots of dividers, but I can find everything easily with these categories and this previously monstrous collection is now organized and useful. I love it.

I use a 2″ white notebook and put each recipe in a sheet protector to keep it clean from spills and messes and most importantly, this is a system I can keep up with.

And there you have it. Nothing fancy or designerish, but it’s one little corner of my kitchen that is less chaotic and my brain feels a little less cloudy too…

How do you organize your recipe collection?


1 Amanda N February 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

oooh like this idea! I have been wanting to do something like this, but hadn’t figured out how i wanted it to turn out!
sadly enough, i have recipes shoved into 2 drawers in my kitchen. Ridiculous! and that’s just those that are printed from the internet or written out by neighbors/friends.
Thanks for some much needed motivation AND awesome organization labels. :)

2 Tyra February 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I started using a recipe box system and Its been going great. I cut out recipes I want to try and those get filed in the back of the particular section and then when I try it, if I like it, it gets transfered to a 5×7 card and filed away. If it wasn’t a keeper, I just recycle the clipping. Its kept thing tidy and takes up very little space in my small kitchen. Usually the bananas sit on it in fact:)

3 Kathy Powell February 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

My husband designed the best computer program to organize and store my recipes. I can cut and paste from web sites (including the picture) or type recipes in myself. there are organizational tabs. Also, you can enter a particular food item and all recipes using that food item will appear. There is also a section for my grocery list to add to daily and then print out the list when I go shopping. Would love to send you one for free to test drive for your feed back. Love to send this to you free for your evaluation.

4 Dana February 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm

These are my favorite dividers as well. I don’t use them in a recipe binder…yet but, seeing yours makes me want to…a lot!!

5 Sandy L February 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

DH gifted me with a netbook for Christmas. I use it to keep all of my recipes online now! I typed in my most cherished/used recipes and now – I just crank up my adorable pink netbook – and off I go!

6 Greta February 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

My “organizing” of recipes is more an antithesis of organization. They’re printouts, 5×7 scribblings, and notepaper folded in the corner of one of my cupboards, held up by the sugar and vanilla. Eek!

7 Jenn February 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Thank You for posting! I recently started overhauling my recipe collection. I bought dividers but they were two short….once you put the recipes in plastic covers it hid the dividers. I’m so going out to buy a pack of these dividers so I can actually see my categories!

8 Kelsey February 17, 2011 at 10:16 am

Great ideas everyone! I used to have loose papers everywhere, and I’m so glad to be done with that!

9 Kathy Mc February 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm

You’ve motivated me to finish my project. Got as far as putting them in sheet protectors in a binder a long time ago but never finished creating my tab dividers (just have post-it flags separating categories). Lately I’ve been keeping newer recipes on my laptop so I can just search my Recipe folder to find the one I’m looking for. Kathy Powell’s husband’s computer program sounds wonderful. Will be anxious to hear what you think after you test drive it.

10 Ginny February 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I would like to try that software from kathy

11 Crystal February 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

So how long did it take you to put this together? I love the idea of having my recipes in one place instead of loose papers stashed between more recipe books.

12 Roxanne Workoff June 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

I love this idea I plan to do one for me and one for my daughter while she is on her mission that way when she gets home she will have a collection of family favorite recipes.

13 Marysa N. August 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

This is a great idea! I have all my recipes bookmarked on the computer or saved in Microsoft Word. Nothing that is easy to find! I need to print and organize! Thanks for the idea!

14 Tonya August 25, 2011 at 9:42 am

I love this idea! I have mine in a folder, in a drawer, in Word documents and saved on certain websites. I need to get them all in one spot!
What I love about those dividers is that you can use sheet protectors! Most other dividers are the size of the paper only, and sheet protectors make the paper stick out past the divider, hiding it.

15 Carolyn September 3, 2011 at 10:12 am

VERY cool way to organize your recipes! Thank you for the idea. I love this and will be giving it a try. I have sooo many recipes, but can’t bear to let go of them. This will be perfect!

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: