Have Printed Recipes? Here’s How to Organize Them

Are you a recipe clipper? Take some time to get those recipes in order!

By Selma Roth


If you’ve been collecting recipes for years, clipping them from magazines and newspapers, it’s time to organize them. You might have recipes printed from the Internet, too. Pull them from that jam-packed drawer or old recipe box and set aside a few hours to “get organized.”

The first chore is to discard those you have no interest in anymore. Many of us cut out recipes that are more fantasy than reality. At this point, stick to reality and toss the instructions for making a complicated gingerbread castle or a crown roast of lamb stuffed with kumquats. Will you really ever attempt either?(If the answer is "yes," disregard this advice!)


You will need a three-hole binder, three-hole plastic sheet protectors, three-hole index tab dividers, and a three-hold punch. You also will need tape and / or a glue stick.

The binder will become your personal cookbook; the plastic will protect the recipes from spatters, tearing, and handling. The tab dividers will make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Organize by Category 

Sort your recipes according to the types of foods. It is best to follow the model most cookbook use: appetizers, beverages, salads, soups, main dishes, side dishes, desserts. You also will want to select some categories that reflect your everyday habits as well as your passions: chicken dishes, fish and seafood, breads, pastries, Christmas cookies.

Tape the recipes you are keeping on plain white paper. Be sure to use both sides of the paper. Punch three holes in the paper, if needed.

Make sure the entire recipe is accounted for. Some magazines continue a recipe on another page of the publication and if you originally neglected to snip the whole thing, you probably won’t find the first part helpful. Discard!

If you have cut a photograph of the finished dish, tape or glue it to another sheet of paper. Write the name of the recipe under the image. This may seem unnecessary now but could be useful later, particularly if the pages get mixed up at some point.

Encase each piece of paper in a plastic protector and then put the recipes and photos in the binder behind the appropriate category divider.

The Final Book

The plastic protectors tend to extend beyond the index tabs, which can be frustrating. To remedy this, cut along the outside edges of enough protective sheets for each divider. Leave about one inch uncut on the top and bottom so it won’t flop open. Insert the dividers into the plastic sheet protectors. Now all your categories are visible again!

Stash the binder in a handy place in the kitchen. It will be a great tool when you are planning menus and parties. It should save you time, because so many of your favorite recipes will be in one place.

As you collect more recipes, you can add them to the binder, safely protected and categorized. This way, you will build your own cookbook, which you will use time and again


Selma Roth is a freelance writer based in Oregon.