The Three Basic Methods of Storing and Organizing Recipes

If you don’t already have a recipe collection, someday you will. While many of the recipe you use may be in cookbooks, you’ll likely have at least some that aren’t: gifts, your own creations, magazine clippings, etc.


The Three Basic Methods of Storing and Organizing Recipes


There are many ways to store and organize recipes, but only three main types of storage (unless you just, you know, toss them somewhere, but this is about organized storage). Switching from one to another isn’t necessarily easy, especially as your collection grows, so put some thought into what basic strategy is best for you before you try to figure out the details.

The Three Basic Types of Recipe Storage and Organization


Recipe cards: It’s traditional. Pretty recipe cards are appealing. And they’re everywhere. Recipe cards are usually then stored in a recipe card binder or index card file. Recipes are generally filed by type (i.e. soups and stews, breads, desserts).


Recipe binders: A more modern invention, I believe. Recipes, either typed or clipped (from magazines) are stored in sheet protectors inside binders. They may be organized by type within the binder or stored in separate binders. You can also include a table of contents in the front. Typically full-size sheets (but not necessarily).


Note: Recipe card binders that have plastic sleeves for inserting cards are a bit of a cross between the recipe card method and the binder method, but you can still choose one of the basic three.

The difference  between the two is that with the recipe card method, you start with recipe cards and then decide how to store them. With the binder method you start with a binder in the size of your choice and then buy sheet protectors that will fit it. You can certainly include random recipe cards in your recipe binder if you have a suitable sheet protector  for them and it doesn’t throw off your organizing system. Or drive you crazy (which is the same thing). 


Digital storage: Stored on a computer (or other device) using recipe storage software, or a website that offers recipe storage. Alternatively, you can simply store recipes in files on your computer.


Pros and Cons of Using Recipe Cards


  • They’re pretty.
  • You don’t have to use pretty ones. You can use plain index cards.
  • Both recipe cards and index cards are readily available.
  • You can print on them if you want to.
  • But handwriting is perfectly fitting and easy.
  • They’re portable. You can grab them and take them anywhere in the kitchen (or to a friend’s kitchen).
  • While cooking, you can lay them flat, prop them up, or clip them to fridge or stove.



  • You have to decide which size to use (3×5 or 4×6).
  • It may be hard to maintain consistency in design (if that’s important to you).
  • They get foody and oily with use, and can’t be cleaned (unless they’re in a recipe card binder with sheet protectors).
  • They have little writing space.
  • Small print and/or handwriting may be hard to read.


Pros and Cons of a Recipe Binder


  • Pages wipe clean.
  • You control the design and you can make it pretty or plain.
  • Updating recipes is a breeze (if you typed them and your printer is working).
  • You can also store clipped recipes.
  • You can easily store recipes printed from websites (if you use a full-size binder).
  • You can have as many binders as you want, of almost any size.
  • Binders store easily in a bookcase or on a shelf (if it’s tall enough!). .
  • Lots of space for the recipes, variations, and notes.
  • You can make the font size right for your eyes.
  • More flexible, because you can include recipe cards in your binder (with the right sheet protectors). 



  • You have to make it.
  • It takes up a lot of space while cooking (although you can remove the individual page, which helps).
  • Storage is bulky.


Pros and Cons of Storing Recipes Digitally


  • No physical storage space required.
  • Recipes are probably searchable.
  • Software or websites may come with other perks, like nutrient analysis or shopping lists.
  • Websites may make recipes sharable and cooking more sociable.
  • With a website, you may have quick access not only to your own recipes but to others’ as well.



  • Recipes aren’t portable unless you can access them from a portable device.
  • Software may cost.
  • Software may need to be updated periodically.
  • Software may NOT be updated and thus become incompatible with your computer (which will be updated).
  • Requires electricity. No cooking when the power’s out!
  • Websites may not always be accessible and might go away permanently.


Can you think of any more pros and cons of any of the basic methods of storing recipes? Which type of storage do you think you would choose, and why?


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