Community

How to Organize Your Multimedia Recipes

February  1, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: The more we cook, the more our recipes tend to scatter. Here are your best ways to organize them into one place.

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When it comes to choosing what recipe to make for dinner -- from online to print to handwritten hand-me-downs -- we like to be equal-opportunity cooks. Each medium has its own appeal, and perhaps more importantly, each gives us yet another excuse to dream up dinners. 'Round these parts, we somewhat obsessively dream up collections for every recipe we save, but we also dog-ear our glossy magazines, and read cookbooks like they're novels.

And yet: Don't we all dream of corraling everything into one place? Of giving Grandma's old-school casserole a place right next to new discoveries, so all our options gather neatly in front of us the next time we're searching for inspiration?

Amanda Marie sure does, and she turned to the community to ask for "a genius solution for organizing recipes culled from various forms of media." Here's how you all keep your options organized:

 

 

Digital: 

  • There's a slew of free apps that offer variations on the theme of one-stop organization, the best of which have app components so you can use them on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Pepperplate and Tastebook are both food-centric; as Mar says, "you can download recipes from various food websites and also enter recipes manually."
  • Evernote doesn't have a food focus, but Pegeen loves it because, like the others, it's free and multi-platform -- plus she can use it to store scanned handwritten recipes along with her typed online recipes. For those she hasn't scanned, she still makes a quick Evernote entry with a note on where to find it: "That way, the recipe title shows up alphabetically, and tells me to go look in the paper file."
  • Multiple members are fans of Eat Your Books, which helps you search through recipes in your own collection -- especially helpful if you have a sizable stockpile of cookbooks.

Paper: 

  • LE BEC FIN prints everything out, stores each recipe in clear plastic sleeves, and files them away. In addition to protecting recipes from sauce spatters, the sleeves protect scraps of paper until you have time to type them up. Diana B does something similar, increasing the font size beforehand so her recipes are easier to read when she's "dancing around the kitchen."
  • Savorthis uses a similar system, using a huge binder as a recipe catch-all: "While I love what digital can do for so many things in life, I am still much more fond of this food-splattered binder. And when in a real pinch, I don't often have trouble finding the recipe online."
  • Whenever Pegeen cooks from an online recipe, she prints it out and "tapes the printed sheets in a row along the front of the kitchen cabinets so I can read continuously without the recipe taking up room on the counter." 

How do you organize your recipes? Tell us in the comments!

55 Comments

Picholine September 5, 2016
I have been using Copy Me That Ap and with great success. If I find a recipe in any site it will quickly copy and then I can categorize ,add notes. I have added my old recipes and created recipes with my photos. Of course I keep my food 52 recipes here. Digitally I also use Pinterest. Then my back to basics recipe cards hand written that I love and treasure. Recipe collectors I find will collect and make, categorize and rate to our hearts content because we love to do this!
 
Laura P. March 23, 2016
Barbara, I'm sure this is a good work around for you, but I do urge you to try the Paprika app. It will scale your recipes up or down, depending on how many people you're cooking for; it includes timers for each step of a recipe; it will create a shopping list for you - and you can delete the things you already have in stock; it allows you to file your recipes by whatever categories make sense to you (for instance, I have desserts divided by 'chocolate,' 'fruit,' and 'other'). I have 2,400 recipes in my Paprika collection, and they are on my laptop, my tablet, and my iPhone, simultaneously. If I've created a shopping list and decide at the store to change one dish for another, I can easily delete all the ingredients for the discarded dish and substitute what I need for the new dish in two simple steps. It imports recipes from everywhere on the web. AND it only costs $5.00, which is the bare minimum the clever designers deserve for creating such a wonderful app. PS, did I mention that you can search your recipes by name or ingredient or source??
 
frecklywench March 23, 2016
My mother (a known genius!) uses a repurposed address book organized alphabetically ("C" is for "cookies," "coconut," etc.) where she logs recipes that she has made-- from cookbooks, magazines, or websites. That way, she can remember what she's made and find the recipes again, without endless printing or copying. It's easy to cross-log items that fall under multiple categories and fun to browse through when you're looking for inspiration!
 
Barbara W. March 23, 2016
I use Yahoo Mail that has a section for adding folders. I've created several folders with general titles such as chicken, breakfast, vegetables, etc. Then as I copy recipes from other sites I add them to emails sent to myself then move to the proper folder. I can breakdown the folders with as much detail as I like.
 
Gloria D. January 6, 2016
I am a recipe collector and a cookbook collector. My system which seemed to evolve on its own, is that I write it on a scrap of paper and tape it willy-nilly to the inside of my baking supplies cabinet. I find say the perfect rolled sugar cookie recipe, I write it down from whatever source,try it then tape it. Next time I want to make it, there it is! No matter if I get a new phone or replace my laptop, or if my tablet isn't charged right then. I love digital recipes, but it is hard to find time to organize them in one place, plus I am the type that if it is too fussy to find a recipe, I just make something from memory.<br />I want to try out this site's organizing tools soon.
 
Jamie S. December 31, 2015
I like TasteBook. Thank you for sharing. This advice has really helped me.
 
Terra March 5, 2015
I save all of of mine to a Pinterest board. I have my ipad sitting on a wall divider (off of the counter) and can access the recipes anytime i need them. If I have a recipe that is handed down to me on paper, I keep that (I'm sentimental that way), but I will fill it in a binder. So really, I use both!
 
Ben H. January 6, 2015
I have many cookbooks and enjoy looking for new recipes and ideas on many websites and in many apps on my phone. I will always make a dish that I think sounds good and road test it, if you will, with the family and then if it is a hit and something that we would like to have again I write it into our recipe book. <br />Doing this I can corral all my favourite recipes from all different sources.
 
Herbert B. June 19, 2014
There is a new quite promising app coming up. It is called the cookery http://thecookeryapp.com You can just send them your recipes as photo, scan, screenshots, links, and they will make them look all the same online and available on all devices.
 
Nagi August 12, 2014
RecipeTin app lets you do that yourself. They won't look the same, but the idea is that you can store photos of recipes in magazines, in cookbooks, save email attachments, and there's a built in browser so you can save recipes from the internet.
 
lizabeth March 8, 2014
I have to agree with Laura, about using an app designed for this use. I use The Recipe Box - which has an app for your phone iPhone and IPad; Your recipes sync from one to the other, so you can work on your iPad and sync to the phone app. You can instant import from many cooking sites, including this one. It also includes Notes, shopping lists, etc. In my research I discovered that the top 2 apps for recipes are Paprika and The Recipe Box. Probably a good choice no matter which one. I got rid of a lot of paper when I put all my recipes in the app! And, I always have them with me - and my shopping list.
 
Laura P. March 8, 2014
I wish all of you would at least look at the Paprica app. It was designed specifically for recipes and cooking, so photos, ingredients, number of servings, directions and notes slot neatly into organized fields. It will double or halve recipes for you, create grocery lists (and allow you to tick off what you already have at home or have dropped into your cart at the store). Best of all, by using Paprica's built-in browser you can locate and download recipes from the past 25 years, from a wide variety of sites, easily and efficiently. And it synchs across platforms. Please do look at it before putting your effort into creating a 'work-around" solution through software that was never designed for cooks. (PS, I have no connection to the app other than being a very contented user.)
 
Scott C. March 8, 2014
Evernote and it's Web Clipper extension/tool are without a doubt THE way to collect, organize, and store recipes you find online. Be sure to use the Tags feature to help make finding recipes easier. I have one Food/Cooking notebook. Inside that are other notebooks named Fish, Poultry, Pasta, Vegetarian, etc. Evernote also has its own intelligence. When clipping an article to save, it often knows which notebook to store the web clipping. Brilliant, free, and accessible from any computer or mobile device anywhere.
 
Kim H. March 7, 2014
I am going to have to check out some the sites/apps for tracking my recipes. I too am a Dropbox user and love it! I can select recipes on my computer and put them on Dropbox to take with me with I visit my parents down south. It's nice not to have to carry books/papers with me during my travels.
 
Nancy C. February 21, 2014
I use Dropbox for my Digital recipes. Any corrections I make to my recipes are automatically updated across all platforms which is important since I have an iPad, PC, and an Android phone. I am able to set up my iPad in the kitchen and not have to hassle with loose paper recipes. I have also shared the recipe folder in Dropbox with family and friends so I am not constantly looking for the recipe to either reproduce or email. I also use Le Bec Fin's method as well. As an aside, my shopping list is in Springpad on my phone, computer and iPad. Works for me!
 
Rochelle B. February 13, 2014
What helpful suggestions ! I don't know if they're still out there, but I've used old-fashioned photo albums which have self-<br />adhering plastic leaves that were went to protect the photos that you place on each page. I bought the photo albums in an assortment of colors ( Blue for Chanukah, Yellow for Thanksgiving, Gold for Heirloom recipes, etc, )Then I placed recipes from newspapers and magazines, recipes on index cards or scraps of paper, etc. in the photo albums where they are protected from spills, lie flat on the pages, and are easily read. I started doing this 40 years ago - and I still use those precious albums !
 
lizabeth February 8, 2014
I researched apps and found one that has been around for awhile and has very good ratings: The Recipe Box. There's one for iPhone and one for iPad. Since I have a keyboard for my iPad, I put it on there first to make input easier. However, you can "Instant Import" recipes from many of the most popular food sites - including this one. I discovered that the iPad and iPhone apps together can transmit recipes back and forth. This works great because if I need to stop by the store to get ingredients for something I have all my recipes with me on the iPhone. The iPad app was around $6 and the iPhone app was around $2. I can also send my recipes to friends from this app. There is a learning curve, but once you've got it down, it's heaven. I'm happy to answer any questions.
 
robinorig February 6, 2014
I was an early subscriber to http://www.eatyourbooks.com and love it. I've used my own cookbook collection more since I can now find things without too much trouble. I love that they are adding foodblogs and magazines and that you can add any recipe from the web, too. (That reminds me, food52, I wish that more of the recipes were available on eatyourbooks! Not just certain ones! I've gotten around some of that b y adding them as personal recipes but it would be great if they would all be available regularly!) I also still have loads of newspaper and magazine clippings, which I am slowly slogging through, checking to see which ones I can find on the web so I can get them into the database and also get rid of the piles of papers. And I do print out my favorite web recipes and make notes on them. (I love that I can mark recipes favorites and make notes in eatyourbooks). Of course I am saving certain hand written recipes from my mom and grandmother and I adore cookbooks. They are my favorite bedtime reading, although I enjoy reading foodblogs online now, too (I use feedly.com to keep track of all the foodblogs).... BTW, it's not that hard to type in books to eatyourbooks, especially if you just type in the ISBN #s... I added about 200 books in very little time recently when I inherited my mom's cookbook collection (plus I could see which ones I already owned when splitting the collection with my sister). I do also save recipes here in food52 and in Epicurious. And I have used cookbooker.com a little bit, too.
 
Assonta W. February 5, 2014
I love the binder method! I am a messy cook, so I picked up the mega box of sheet protectors from the local big box and keep all my printed recipes in sheet protectors. When I print out recipes for friends, I also give them in sheet protectors.
 
Katelinlee February 3, 2014
You guys are a much savvier bunch than I. I just pin everything -- if it comes from a favorite book, usually I can find a blogger who wrote about it somewhere. Although *someone* has some great recipes in the NY Times that often didn't come with pictures...
 
minipanda February 3, 2014
I want to offer a dissenting opinion. I don't organize any recipes beyond the food52 "save" function (which is nice). I do read cookbooks and food media a lot and do not have any family heirloom recipes. Instead, I rely on my memory (for what my friends and family like to eat) and on Google when I need a specific recipe. I find this helps me keep my cooking pretty well edited.<br /><br />Paradoxically, I will still Google recipes from books I've purchased, such as April Bloomfield's Caesar salad recipe (which I look up every other week). I think it's so much faster just to whip Google open than to find her book on my e-reader app, but I really liked reading her book.
 
Author Comment
Rémy R. February 3, 2014
minipanda, you're in luck! April Bloomfield is our guest editor this week and we literally JUST published her Caesar salad recipe, so now you can save it to your F52 collection: http://food52.com/blog/9628-a-girl-and-her-pig-s-caesar-salad