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Each week as I create my grocery shopping list, I pull out my family recipe binder to see if there are any new recipes I want to try. One day a friend was over and saw my binder and commented on what a neat idea it was.
“Where did you find that idea, on Pinterest?”
Well, no…I’ve actually had this binder for awhile.
Before I ever moved out of my mother’s home, she gave me a cookbook. Not just any cookbook, but a “Pillsbury Family Kitchens” cookbook which I still have. It’s approximately 6″ x 9″ with a 5-ring binder. (I mention the size to show that it’s not equivalent to a full sheet of paper.) Over the years, I’ve clipped recipes from magazines and newspapers and taped them onto paper that I’ve cut to fit in this cookbook. It became awkward over time.
My Family Recipe Binder
As my family grew, I collected cookbooks but often found I was only using 3-6 of the recipes within them. As more and more companies started creating websites, I printed off recipes I liked and placed them into my Pillsbury cookbook. It soon began to bulge.
Then I had an epiphany.
Wouldn’t it be neat to have a full-size, 3-ring, binder cookbook, where I could add recipes as I like them, and remove those I don’t like?
Yes. Yes, it would.
Thus, my Family Recipe Binder was born.
Passing on Family Recipes
As each of my children has reached adulthood, I’ve created a family recipe binder for them. Here’s what you need to make your very own family recipe binder:
- (1) 4-inch D-ring binder (A 3-inch would work if you can’t find a 4-inch, but believe me when I say you will need the largest you can find; locking rings are best, too. See below for a link to a binder I recommend.)
- Pocket dividers (The total depends on how many categories you want — I have 15. See below for a link to the dividers I use.)
- Blank paper
- Hole puncher
A) Place the pocket dividers into the binder, and decide what to name your categories.
- Meat (I include bacon and pepperoni in this section, as well as beef, pork, etc.)
- Poultry (I include turkey in this section even though it’s not considered poultry)
- Veggies (I include potatoes and tomatoes in this section)
- Rice & Pasta (I include recipes for main dishes as well as side dishes)
- Breads (I also include recipes for flavored butters here, since we use them with bread)
- Desserts (I currently include cookies in this tab, but really feel I need to break them out into their own category)
- etc. (I have a total of 15 categories in my binder)
Look at a couple different cookbooks if you can, to see how they set up their categories. You may decide to go with more tabs, or you may get creative and merge some (like meat and poultry). You could even choose to label by occasion instead (main dish, side dish, dessert, appetizer/snack, etc.6).
B) Start collecting recipes.
- Those cookbooks from which you only use six recipes? Make a copy of those pages and get rid of the book itself, unless you really think you’ll use more of the recipes someday.
- Print recipes from Pinterest, Food Network, and name brand sites. (See below for links to my Pinterest boards.)
- Cut out recipes from magazines, newspapers, and food cartons/bags.
- Family recipes — be sure to write these down! Don’t let Aunt Suzy’s prize-winning potato salad get lost over time just because no one thought to write it down.
C) Mount on paper if needed. All those small pieces of paper should be taped to regular-sized blank pages. If you have a recipe card that’s two-sided, tape it at the top only so you can flip it up to read the back. Don’t let a little white space scare you. White space is good! You want to be able to make notes on the recipe.
D) When you print recipes from a website, hole-punch them right away.
Your binder will consist of two types of recipes: those you’ve tried and like, and those you’ve not yet tried. Those are the ONLY two types of recipes you should keep.
Those you’ve tried and like will be placed behind the appropriate tab. (If you have a small recipe clip that you’ve tried and like, and you haven’t gotten it taped to a piece of paper yet, just tuck it into the back pocket of the appropriate divider.)
Those that you’ve not yet tried will go into the front pocket of the appropriate divider. After you try them, you either place them into the binder or toss them. Do not keep a recipe you will never make again.
If one family member really liked a recipe, jot it on the side or bottom of the paper. If you altered the recipe at all, jot it down. Sometimes I’ll even make a note of the first time I try a recipe (the occasion and date). This is why all that white space is not a problem — you need room to jot notes!
Start a Family Tradition
If you have your own copier/printer, and you’d like to thin out your cookbook collection, why not make a family recipe binder for yourself? Pick up a couple binders and pocket dividers and create one for each of your children, too! I guarantee they will be thrilled to get copies of the recipes from their favorite childhood meals.
You can find a four-inch, D-ring binder on Amazon (this is an affiliate link). You can also find dividers with pockets on Amazon (this is also an affiliate link). If you’re interested in seeing some of the recipes I’ve saved, here are links to my Pinterest boards: