I haven’t talked much about cooking/ meal planning on this blog, because generally speaking, my meal planning and cooking style is pretty “fly by the seat of my pants”. We (mostly, I) cook at home often, but it’s honestly not super organized (though I have made more attempts recently to plan our meals).
A few issues:
I feel like our lifestyle, especially in normal times, is not super well suited to a strict meal regimen. We are busy, things seem to change constantly at the last minute around here, our “moods” for food also seem to vary, and, we do like to eat out a fair amount.
Not necessarily an “issue”, but more of an observation: I don’t cook from recipes very often. We eat a lot of either Mexican style food (stuff I’ve just learned to make/ adapted over the years), basic meals (i.e. fish, a vegetable and rice) or “recipes” I’ve made in the past but now just make out of habit (i.e. the chicken parmesan I made last week).
However! I LIKE cooking from recipes sometimes, because it’s a great way to find and try new, different ideas. I actually included a “made new recipe” line in my monthly habit tracker this past year. I just flipped through my records for 2020, and according to this, I have made a total of nine new recipes in the entire year so far (and this may be a generous count). Many months I have 0 recorded. I’m so adventurous! Ha.
Related to #2- my recipe storage is a mess. This might contribute to me not making new recipes. I have Pinterest, and I have a ton of recipes saved on there. I have a recipe box. An old notebook. A couple cookbooks. Favorite recipes are….somewhere in one of those sources. If I know what I want to make and it’s an older/ tried and true recipe, I can probably find it. Maybe. But if I run across a really great recipe, and I try it and love it, I cannot currently guarantee that that recipe will get saved in any kind of organized fashion to ever be found again.
ALSO, when it comes time for me to pretend to be an organized mom and make a meal plan for the week, my recipe situation is so overwhelming that I don’t even really know where to start.
The reason I’m talking about this today is because yesterday I decided I want to make chili on Tuesday. Which meant I needed to find my chili recipe. Which led me to realize (again) what a mess my recipe situation is.
I may have had a little epiphany though! I was doing a little online searching and thinking about ways that I could organize my recipes more efficiently. I ran across MANY blog posts from (much more organized) bloggers saying that Evernote is an amazing recipe storage resource.
That caught my eye. I have an Evernote account! If you don’t know what it is, it is basically a cloud-like notes storage app, accessible from your phone/ tablet/ computer. It syncs across them all. I use it (sporadically) to keep track of some misc. household items, like when we last had eye exams, my Christmas card address list and lists of certain household brands I prefer to buy.
As I read, I learned that Evernote can be an excellent way to organize recipes! I actually already had a “Recipes” notebook in there from years ago but it was mostly empty.
The cool thing is that you can “tag” your recipes (i.e. “Mexican” “Chicken” “Favorite”), so you can sort by that AND there is a great search bar. Many people say they don’t even bother tagging the recipes because the search function works so well. You can copy and paste a recipe in from Pinterest or, my favorite part: you can just take a picture of a hand written recipe. The search function will read the words in the photo!! I tried it and it works.
I also like that since each recipe is basically inside a “note”, you can type whatever you want in there. So if you copy a recipe in, you can make notes about things you’ve changed, or add photos/ comments/ etc. It seems pretty slick!!
Here’s a screenshot of how it looks in the app on my phone (I’ve only added a couple random recipes so far):
Below is a screen shot of my chili recipe in the app (taken in poor lighting and a pencil written recipe, but you get the idea). I didn’t add any typed in notes, but now to find this all I would have to do is type in “chili” in the search bar and my recipe would pop up.
Here is a recipe I copied in from Pinterest. It lets you edit the font, colors, make notes, etc. I also like having the actual recipe in my possession, because in Pinterest, you are really just pinning the link. If the original source ever disappears, your recipe does too!
Anyway, I’m very intrigued by this! It seems like it could work really well for me. I already have the app on my phone, and it’s so easy to access on my desktop too. I love the search feature best of all, I think! That makes it a piece of cake to find things.
What’s your favorite recipe storage method?? I’m leaning toward trying this but am open to other suggestions!
I’m grateful for Sunday night football, my couch and the fireplace. I was tired for some reason last night and sort of collapsed in a heap on the couch. It was nice. 🙂
4 thoughts on “Recipe storage….a possible epiphany?”
Recipe storage/organization is tough to tackle! I used to have tons of printed recipes that I folded up on top of a recipe box. Then 5+ years ago, I went through them and decided what I actually wanted to try. I got a recipe binder and organized things by course (salad, soup, side, dinner, dessert, breakfast) and I got plastic sleeves to put the recipes in. I am a super tactile person so I need a printed recipe – online don't work well for me because I don't have an ipad and I get super frustrated cooking off of a recipe on my iPhone. Now when I see something I want to try, I print it and put it in the clipboard in the front of the binder. Once I've made it, it goes into a plastic sleeve if it's something we want to eat again. We meal plan during the week so the shopping list is finalized by Sat am when Phil goes shopping. I plan to make 3 meals/week, sometimes 1 more depending on whether what we make will yield enough leftovers. But we are in a different phase of life where we are all home eating dinner at the same time. It's more challenging when kids are in activities like yours are! I also have recipes in cookbooks that I will flag w/one of those post-it note bookmark things that are sort of tape like? Hopefully you know what I am talking about. That way if I can go to my cookbooks and look at what I've flagged if I need more ideas. Plus there is one cookbook I'm trying to make a recipe from each night (my instant pot one that I bought this summer). I hope this new system works well for you!!
My simple method is 1. bookmark and put them in categories: grains/protein/breakfast/vegan/party, etc2. have a bookmark called this week for recipes that I want to make soon.3. write down recipe in my blog for those that I make that we are likely to make again. all three methods are accessible from my phone so I don't need another app. I've heard of evernote but found the extra step not worth it. let me know if you like it.
I love cookbooks but I have too many! If I have a cookbook with only a few recipes I like, I write it in an old journal I have for favorite recipes and get rid of it. The journal is spiral bound but doesn't have a ton of stuff so it's easy to find things. If the recipe is something I want to try I have a recipe binder, with tabs, that I stick it in. Otherwise, since I do love the cookbooks, I will put a small sticker next to the recipes I love in the table of contents, index, and recipe itself so when I'm looking through it I know what I've enjoyed in the past. I usually remember my favorites, and where to find them, so between the journal and books, this isn't an issue for me. One day I may get rid of some of the cookbooks and just condense to the tabbed binder. But for now, I'll still enjoy them this way.I like the idea of the online organizer because it's slick. With some things, including my planner, I'm a paper person and recipes currently fall in that category. I love seeing my hand written recipes or even a printout that I can put on my recpie stand. There's just something classic and rustic about it that I'm not ready to give up…yet! I also meal plan weekly and enjoy flipping through my files for recipes, when I need them. Fun topic! Good luck with the organizing.
Oh man, my recipe storage system is called – "in my head, maybe, if I'm lucky" 🙂 It is such a mess. I have a couple of cookbooks that I use a lot, but mostly work off saved Internet recipes. I bookmark them, but it's a problem because some are bookmarked on my laptop, some on my iPad, some on my phone – and I never know where they are, so if I remember one, I have to search up to three devices to find it. It also makes it nearly impossible to find a recipe unless I am already thinking about it. Plus I bookmark a ton of recipes I've never actually tried, so there's all of those to sort through too. I have a few staple recipes memorized, so that's easy, and a lot of our meals aren't really based on recipes – i.e., chicken fajitas, which is just chicken, whatever vegetables we have, cilantro rice, tortillas, etc. But to actually find a recipe is a challenge. And then there's all the times I modify the recipe to improve it, and I usually forget what I did differently until I make the recipe (wrong) the next time!Once upon a time I began the process of typing out all the recipes we use a lot, with my own variations, so that I could print them out and have a book of "my" recipes that I could use or pass down to my kids one day if they wanted it. Well. That worked great, until that laptop crashed 5 years ago and all those recipes got trapped on an inaccessible hard drive. Now I'm worried the same thing will eventually happen to my new laptop. I think I worry about losing my recipes almost as much as I do my family photos! The Evernote idea is a good one. There's a certain amount of inertia involved in the idea of learning a new system – it just seems like a lot of work to even transfer things over – but I think if I just do it recipe by recipe as I make them, it would eventually add up. And plus even if my laptop or device crashed, I could still log in from somewhere else and all my stuff would still be there. I guess I could save all my recipes in my e-mail account too, which would be another (less slick, organized) way to do it. Either way, this post is a good kick in the pants to do something about all those recipes I would be super sad to lose!