Recipes are addictive.
There, I’ve said it!
Whether you are watching cooking programmes on TV that make everything look so easy, reading cookbooks full of gorgeous looking dishes, or you have just tried something amazing at a friends house – you immediately want to have the recipe and make it yourself.
It’s the height of aspiration – and I’m all for trying recipes, really I am – it’s just that all too often we can’t grab the recipe we want when we need it, or (worse still!) we can’t even remember that we had the recipe at all!
We end up spending hours collecting a pile of recipes that are disorganised, only to find that we can’t grab what we need easily – so they become pretty much useless – and that’s no good.
It has to end – so here are my top tips to help you do just that – enjoy!
TIP 1 – DECIDE BETWEEN DIGITAL & PAPER
Just as two diaries are never a good idea because of the increased risk of double booking and/or missing something – any system that you set up in your home should be failsafe.
This means that you should always decide on a system that suits you – and make this as easy to use as possible.
Whether you decide to use digital (Evernote, Pinterest, Word document etc…), or paper (Recipe file, Index cards, Recipe books etc…) – you should make sure that this system is right for you and how you prefer to work.
I prefer paper (as I usually do – I’m old fashioned at heart!) – a recipe file is something that I can touch and feel – and I simply use an A4 folder to collect together all the recipes I love. They are in one place and easy to grab when I need them.
You may prefer digital because you can access it anywhere and it won’t get damaged or lost if you have a fire or flood etc…
So – you have now decided on how you will store the recipes you want to keep – but how do you store them in a way that you can find them easily?
TIP 2 – STORE YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPES & THOSE STILL TO TRY IN SEPARATE PLACES
When you create a place for all the recipes that you have tried, that the family love, and that you will use again and again, it is a pleasure to go there and pick things to cook.
You don’t have any worries that the recipes won’t work, and you will have made your very own personalised recipe book full of dishes that are loved. Perfect!
Question is – what do you do with the recipes that you want to store somewhere safe that you will want to try in the future?
The trick is to create a second file for this type of recipe.
If you mix your RECIPE FILE and your TO TRY then it will become less easy to find what you love, and you will soon stop using the system altogether.
Always remember that the TO TRY recipes are your very own aspirational recipe book – only when you have tried them and loved them will they work their way into your main recipe file.
TIP 3 – MAKE RECIPES EASY TO FIND
Whether you choose to store your recipes in a digital or paper version – it is vital that they are stored in an organised way.
That involves filing!
Just as with any filing you do, you want to ensure that everything you need is really easy to find when you need it. Otherwise you will stop using it altogether.
Split your recipes into categories that make sense for you, and don’t have too many categories as it can get too confusing.
If your recipes are a pleasure to use then you will get more use out of them and all the work to get them organised will pay off.
I’m all for making things simple – so by now you should be thinking of having two sets of recipes – those you already love and those that you want to try.
Both sets should be easy to use and easy to find things in.
It’s pretty easy to know what to store in the trusted recipes file – but how do you go about finding ones to try?
TIP 4 – KEEP A COPY OF WHAT YOU WANT TO TRY, AS SOON AS YOU SEE IT
With all of the information that we have access to nowadays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed: –
- Recipe Books
- Magazines and newspapers with recipes in them
- Cookery shows on TV
- Websites and blogs
You could easily see hundreds of recipes a day – so it’s no wonder we feel bombarded at times. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve searched several cookbooks because I knew I had a recipe for something specific, but couldn’t remember where it was.
What a waste of time!
The easiest way to curb this frustration is to enjoy reading/watching the recipes and make a decision right there and then as to whether you want to try it yourself at some point, and then make a copy for yourself so that you will be able to find it when you are ready to cook it.
By this I mean: –
- Tear pages from a magazine/newspaper (or if you prefer digital, then take a photo or scan it) and keep in a “TO TRY” file.
- Write an Index of recipes you want to try and keep that list in your TO TRY file.
- Mark the pages of a recipe book (post it notes work well for this) so you can easily see where to find them.
- Look online for a recipe you have seen on TV – and save the link somewhere that’s quick to find. A lot of recipes can be found using a quick search of the TV programmes name and the recipes name.
- Recipes from blogs/websites can be saved digitally by copying their links, or you could print them out and save to a paper file if you prefer.
I have my favourite blogs and TV programmes that I always go to for recipes, with loads of inspiration every week – and I find what I need online and print them off to try.
It’s really easy but very effective because it takes a little time to print it off so it makes me really think about what I am doing, and I only do it if I really REALLY want the recipe!
The next couple of tips take organising to the next level, to things that you may not have thought of as yet, so I hope they help!
TIP 5 – MARK RECIPES YOU DON’T LIKE
If you have tried recipes from your recipe books and not liked them – then avoid cooking them again in the future by marking them in some way.
A simple note in pencil on the page would suffice if you were definitely going to keep the book, and if not then just use a post it note on the page.
Obviously – if the recipe came from anywhere else and you have saved it in a TO TRY file, then simply delete from this file!
TIP 6 – CREATE A NEW RECIPE HABIT
If you don’t actually make time to try new recipes, then all the collecting and organising will be for nothing.
One way I like to ensure I try new recipes regularly, but so that it doesn’t become too burdensome for us, is to have a slot in our weekly meal planner that is for a new recipe.
That way we can plan when we will have a bit more time (new recipes will take more time as you will be less sure and have to really read and follow them to the letter), and it adds a little change to the weeks food.
Whether you try a new recipe once a week, once a month, or some other amount of time – this should also show you how many recipes you should be keeping to try one day(!) – which leads me nicely to then next tip…
TIP 7 – DECLUTTER REGULARLY
It’s really important to make sure you are only keep the recipes that you really need – as this will stop things getting out of hand and overwhelming.
- Make sure you only keep recipe books that you love to read, or that have lots of great recipes in them. Books with only one or two recipes that you love should be let go of (make a copy of the recipes before the book goes).
- Have your tastes changed? – last year myself and my hubby quit sugar. I love baking and so had built up quite a collection of baking books that now are no longer useful to us because they all use sugar. As such we kept one or two (my daughter uses them) and have let go of the rest. Of course – I haven’t stopped baking, we just use no sugar recipes now (just as delicious, by the way!).
- Are you bored of certain recipes? – even your main RECIPE FILE needs going through every so often, because there will no doubt be recipes in there you no longer cook or like because you have made them so many times.
Decluttering what you have will make finding things much quicker, and make you feel more in control of things.
I hope you’ve got lots of ideas from this article, recipes can be an overwhelming part of your kitchen if you’re not careful.
They add to the paperwork mountain in your home, and become clutter rather than useful and inspiring.
But it doesn’t have to be that way – and if you follow a few of these tips you are bound to be using your recipes like never before – good luck!
PSST ….. if you have your recipes ready to use, and want to know how to create a meal plan so you can try them all, then CLICK HERE for my step by step guide….