Have you ever made something, wanted to make it a second time and you can’t remember the details?
I used to do this all the time. I’d just assume that I could look it up – do a Google search, flip open a cookbook – and recreate my prior creation. As you’ve probably discovered, all recipes are not created equal. Some are just brilliant, others look good on paper but fall short when you try to execute them.
After years of this, I finally got organized.
Most importantly, I got organized in a way that was self-sustaining. Sure, I had gotten organized before, but the process generally only lasted until I discovered a new-cute storage system, or an app to catalog the details. This time I settled on a process where I didn’t find a need to re-do my approach every time something new came up.
It’s not sexy, but it works. I keep recipes, notes, tips, ideas and even references to things in books or on the web – all in one place in a system of binders. I use plastic sheet protectors for the pages and divider tabs to create categories. These allow me to organize things in ways that make sense to me. I can save things of different shapes, sizes or formats; and/or retain the original recipes (for example, if the handwriting has sentimental value). The sheet protectors also keep the details safe from spills and stains. Individual pages can even be pulled out and used for planning to create a meal.
I can even re-order the pages, or easily clean out recipes and notes I no longer want. Lastly, if you get a binder with a pocket on the inside cover, it serves as a place to quickly shove new recipes, or notes until you are ready to file them later.
Most importantly, my personal recipe collection serves as a starting point for the creative exercise of preparing food. How DID I season that grilled shrimp that was so amazing last summer?
How do you keep track of your ideas?
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Recipe for Getting Organized
- Obtain binders of the desired size. I like to use 1 1/2" size. They are big enough to hold a decent amount without becoming unwieldy.
- Obtain sheet protectors. Go ahead and get a big box. I prefer the clear ones over the 'no-glare' style.
- Obtain binder tabs. You can make your own categories. You can go 'traditional' - like 'appetizers', 'mains', 'sides'. Or, you can get creative - 'weeknights', 'family traditions', 'reach goal technical challenge'. Make them your own.
- Stuff your recipes and notes into the sheet protectors. Use whatever organizational scheme fits your mood. You can always change it later!
- Assemble your binders. Label the spine.