Tips & Techniques

A Time-Saving Tip for Storing Recipes

August  8, 2017

Cooking from a written recipe can present quite a number of physical challenges, ones I wish we talked about more openly and more often.

Say you’re cooking from a colossal cookbook. What if it’s got an energetic spine, closing shut without your consent? Awful. Better weigh it down properly. A computer? Make sure you’ve got it near your kitchen, and careful—it’d be a shame if you were to spill some corruptive solvent on it. Printing out a recipe? That’s a real waste of paper.

How arduous. Over the weekend, a tweet from food writer Adam Erace was thrust into my feed; in it, he presented a surefire way to skirt the small, fussy inconveniences of cooking basic, go-to recipes. All you need is a phone. His secret? Circumvent the hardship at all and store those go-to recipes and ratios as contacts.

A fine recommendation from Erace. This certainly beats having to scour the mobile web for a recipe; you'll skip many steps, and there's no internet connection necessary. Contacts are much harder to delete than, say, notes or text messages. As the folks at Lifehacker point out, Erace's method makes it quite easy to summon Siri to recite those cooking instructions at your command. Give it a whirl. It’s a nice trick.

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Have a tip better than Adam Erace’s? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Kim S. October 12, 2020
HA! I'm just imagining how FB & IG are mining your contacts list for email blasts and ad-revenues!

Seriously, I keep my most tried-and-true ratios/measurement conversions/done-ness temps as laminated fridge magnets. Recipes-to-try are written in my Rocketbook notepad, then photographed and uploaded. If they "make the cut", they're filed in Evernote (with all my other cut-and-paste web findings). Even the super-special handwritten recipes from several generations of cooks in my family are stored digitally just-in-case my recipe box is ever lost. My cookbooks only survive a few years before being passed along to a friend or a local library. I only keep the books that are good references for a technique or improvisational guideline or a good read about the history or reminiscence about the dish.
Kathy August 31, 2020
Like a few others here, I really like Paprika. If I'm at the store and something is on sale that would work for a particular dish, it's easy to check the recipe, see if I have other thing I'd need (Pantry feature) and add things to my shopping list. Easy to save recipes to from the web, too.
CuocaPazza August 25, 2017
My entire, rather substantial, database of recipes has been copied and pasted from wherever I found it online into a Word document and filed very carefully in 'cookbook style' folders. This entire Recipes folder is uploaded to my Dropbox, so I can access it from anywhere... most importantly from my iPad while cooking.
Anke T. August 20, 2017
My entire recipe database is in Evernote, and I add new proven recipes from books there as well. This way, I can properly index everything using tags, and I don't have to mess up my contacts list.
Sandra August 14, 2017
What a novel idea! Love it.
MplsCitified August 12, 2017
I second Paprika. It revolutionized how we organize our favorite recipes. It easily downloads recipes from about any website. You can easily scale, edit and add notes about recipes. Endless ways to organize them that are simple and intuitive. And, once they are saved, they are all available if/when you are offline.
petalpusher August 11, 2017
The top shelf of my pantry holds 40 years of cookbooks. (Edited every few years) A binder holds hard copies of keeper recipes printed from the internet. I keep my phone out of the kitchen, too distracting.
It cracks me up to use your contacts for recipe storage, because now I'm assigning dishes to different friends and associates.
I'm not ready to let go of books.
Peony August 11, 2017
I use the Paprika app and love the feature that allows you to increase or decrease the amount. I made Heidi Swanson's Buttermilk Berry Muffins yesterday and needed to double it and it instantly gave me the new amounts for the ingredients. This feature has a glitch but overall works well and I love having recipes stored with room for notes, etc.
Owen R. August 10, 2017
Not a good idea IMHO. That really screws up apps that use contacts, like navigation, and also fills the contacts list with things that make it long and less usable and searchable.

Like Carrie or Scott pointed out already, there are PLENTY of apps that can do this job which are actually made to do this kind of thing. Evernote is excellent, as is Google Keep.

This idea would be like keeping documents as photos because you like the photo app better, or using a screwdriver to open a bottle of beer, because you have it handy.
Carrie A. August 8, 2017
I just save them in Evernote...then I use my iPad in my kitchen...I can organize my recipes in Evernote too. Plus, I never lose a recipe I saved on Pinterest again.
Scott August 8, 2017
I use Google Keep - (of course you have to have a Google account). The beauty is web pages can be copied and pasted using a fullsize PC/keyboard into Keep and then view it instantly in a tablet or smart phone. I have dozens of recipes and can search easily. I also use it for my grocery lists so at the store just pull out my phone and there it is! Scott