I knew it was time to organize MY recipes because…

  • My recipe box looked like this! Ugh! It was crammed full with recipe cards, torn slips of paper and recipes printed on full sheets of paper folded up! The tabs were worn and bent. AND, the lid kept falling off!!

  • Every time I needed to find a recipe I had to grab the whole category (e.g. main dishes) and look at each title one by one to find the recipe I wanted. OR, I had to sift through loose recipes and papers.


  • I had so many recipes in each category that as I scanned the titles I would think, “I should throw that out. I have never even made that! That looks too hard. That doesn’t even sound good.”

I finally had the time to work on this project. I had some of the supplies I needed and then actually remembered (wow!) when I was out running errands to look for the 3X5 page protectors. Here are the supplies I used:

  • A Binder – I used a 1 1/2 inch and a 1 inch binder. I later switched this blue one to a white one so the two binders matched. In part two I will show you the after picture of my awesome recipe binders!

  • 3X5 page protectors – I like the 3X5 size because my cards are that size (duh!) and because there are 4 per page (the 4X6 only have 2 per page). I found mine at Office Depot. I bought 10 packages just so I wouldn’t run out.

  • Dividers – I LOVE this kind. They have 8 dividers and each one has pockets – I will talk about how to use the pockets later.

So, let’s get STARTED!!!

The 1st step in organizing is to…SORT! Since recipes in a box are already sorted I sorted my loose papers/recipes into the existing categories in the box. Then I took one category (i.e. main dishes) at a time and sorted them down further: Chicken, Beef, Ham, Italian, Mexican, etc. Please note that I continued with step 2 and 3 for each main food category before starting the next.

The 2nd step in my organizing acronym – SPASM – is to PURGE! Get realistic. If you haven’t tried a recipe in a year don’t keep it. If you decide to keep it then get it on your calendar and buy the ingredients. When you have whittled it down to those you want to keep you are ready for step three!

The 3rd step is the A – ASSIGN A HOME! Each main category’s ‘home’ will be after it’s tab divider. Place the first tab into your binder. Use a sticky note to label this tab temporarily until you are certain that this is the order you are happy with. Before placing your recipes into the protectors decide how you want to order the recipes/mini categories. I put them into the sheet protectors by mini categories. For example, I choose to put my chicken recipes in first with my favorite chicken recipes in the front. Then I put my beef recipes in with my favorite beef recipes in the beginning. And so on… There were a couple of blank pockets after each mini category so I would have room to add recipes later.

CONTINUE this process until all of your recipes are in the binder(s) with each main category behind a new tab.

The 4th step is to SET LIMITS. Try and think of natural limits that help control your stuff. Here, it could be the actual binder – once the binder is full you must purge. Or, another limit could be the number of page protectors per section – for example, 5 pages per category, etc.

The 5th step is to MAINTAIN. Here again try and think of natural occurrences where maintenance could occur. For example, with a closet you could maintain each time you wash clothes, each season when you switch seasonal clothing, each time you bring a new item in, etc. With your recipe binder(s) you can maintain each week when you menu plan or whenever you pull your binder off the shelf.

In Organizing Your Recipes – Part II I will talk about labeling the tabs, creating the cover and spine, and what to do with new recipes coming in! I will even post a picture of the first time using my new binder AND a favorite recipe!

4 comments on “Organizing Your Recipes – Part I”

  1. Sadness. We have been using the 3×5 protectors for our recipes for 25 years, and no one is selling them anymore! Where can we find them?

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