Organizing Recipes

Organizing recipes can be accomplished in one of two ways:

If you're the hands on type, read on.

If you want to organize your recipes on the computer, see my recommendation for the best recipe organizer software.

How to Organize Recipes By Hand

Organizing recipes in the following way will make meal planning very simple:

  • Gather
  • Sort
  • File


If you're hanging on to an entire magazine for one particular recipe it contains, cut out the recipe and throw away (recycle) the rest of the magazine.

If you have a collection of cookbooks/magazines, but can never find the recipe you're thinking about, sit down with your "library," peruse through each cookbook and put Post-It notes/tabs on all your favorite recipes.

Next, photocopy those recipes. (Take your stack of cookbooks/magazines to a local Kinkos, Alphagraphics, etc. if you don't have a copier at home.)

Alternatively, you can tear favorite recipes from cookbooks...if you dare! (Better to do so and actually use recipes than to own a great cookbook that only looks good on the shelf!)


The next step in organizing your recipes is to weed through them and get them categorized.

Throw away those you've tried and don't like or the ones that sound good, but you KNOW you'll never get around to making.

Categorize the ones you have left.

You can organize recipes by:

  • Meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, Snacks, Beverages)
  • Main Ingredient (Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Vegetarian)
  • Courses (Entrees, Side Dishes, Desserts)
  • Your Own Special Categories (Holiday, Family Favorites, "To-Try")


You'll need some sort of filing system:

  • Three-ring binder with tab dividers
  • Labeled hanging files in a file drawer
  • Labeled folders in an open sided magazine storage box
  • Buy a ready-made system for organizing recipes. (My favorite is from Amazon, pictured below.)

Make a file/tab divider for each recipe category: Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Side Dishes, Desserts, "To Try," etc. and file recipes accordingly.

Note: Don't let your "TO TRY" folder get out of control!

If you find that you're collecting recipes and never preparing them, it's time to designate one day of the week (every Monday night, for example) as "try a new recipe day."

Feeling like it's too much work to organize recipes by hand? Don't forget about organizing recipes with recipe organizer software.

Meal Planning is Now Simple!

When it comes to making a weekly/monthly meal plan, all you have to do is pull the appropriate number of recipes from each category.

For example, if you plan to cook 7 nights/week and plan to eat chicken 3x/week, fish 3x/week, and beef 1x/week, you simply need to pull 3 chicken recipes, 3 fish recipes, and 1 beef recipe from your file.

Use my FREE Weekly Meal Planner or FREE Monthly Meal Planner.

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