Recipe Organizing For Family Favorites (and a Free Printable)

There are plenty of reasons to organize family recipes. My biggest reason is to make it easier for my young girls to choose and help with meal planning. You are going to love how pretty these recipes are once organized.

how to organize recipes

Like many of you, I’ve been paring down my stash of recipes for most of my adult life. And yet, I still have a little index card box that’s stuffed so full it’s hard to find anything, a binder with recipes falling out of it, and a small stack of cookbooks with just a handful of recipes that I actually use.

organizing printed recipes

What’s worse, I found that I had multiples of the same recipes (lasagne and cheesecake were the worst offenders), and I had trouble finding the favorite Christmas morning casserole recipe, which was actually two recipes that I improvised on each year based on ingredients that are handy at the time. All of this wasn’t really a problem until earlier this year when Kittycat took a cooking course at summer camp and became the rising chef in our house. And yet, she doesn’t actually eat anything except french fries…oh the irony.

For years I would pull pages of recipes out from magazines, so I have all these pages with ragged edges.

These days, I often use my ipad to call up recipes from Pinterest or the AllRecipes app. But once I find one I like, can I reliably find it again when I want to, or when I have those ingredients handy? Not always. And although I’ve embraced Evernote for many things, honestly, I didn’t want to use it for recipes for some reason.

And those little index cards that we all kept our recipes on 30 years ago? Well, most of us just print out full sized pages from our printers these days, and full sized recipes don’t fit in the index card box.

Here’s the fix for all of that recipe clutter.


  • One really big binder. I used a new 2″ binder. The Better Binder from Staples has an easy-label spine window, a front pocket for a cover, and inside pockets to hold things I haven’t got time to file just now.
  • One pack of 200 plastic page protectors
  • Two packs of pretty section dividers
  • Scissors

Organizing my recipes took me about an hour. Once I had the recipes in piles, I went through and saw where I had duplicates. Lordy, who knew I was hoarding lasagne recipes? Vegetable lasagne, mushroom lasagne, no-boil lasagne, crock-pot lasagne, and the list goes on. The cool thing was, I was finally able to create the categories that I actually use. My old index card box had soups and salads together in one section, which is just silly. So now I have one section for each.

organize recipes into groups

I also have a new section for beans and lentils. I’m always trying to work them into our meal planning.

I’ve always kept my favorite slow-cooker recipes in their own section, but as I convert favorite recipes into slow-cooker versions, I didn’t always store them together.

And I also added a section at the back for cleaning recipes that involve things like vinegar and lemon juice, things you mostly find in the kitchen, but I never had a good place to store them. Now I do. I used 2 packs of Avery plastic dividers in this project.

Avery Page Dividers to organize recipes

A pretty little table of contents will help identify which section to head to. This is just a simple Word document.

table of contents for organized recipes

Trimming the edges off those magazine pages made me ridiculously happy. The kiddos helped me slide recipes into page protectors. I love that printed recipes are easy to make notes on, since I often reduce the amount of sugar in my recipes, but at the same time, the page protectors keep the recipes cleaner in the kitchen, which I definitely need.

I reassembled my favorite recipes into the binder by section. I have a little over 200 recipes. My goal is to make each of the recipes over the next year, and weed out the ones that my family doesn’t enjoy. Why keep recipes that are too fussy or not on my family’s favorite list? The binder format makes it easy to try a recipe, and rotate it to the back of the section if we want to keep it, or remove it altogether if we don’t. We’ll keep trying the ones that float up to the front of the section. So, basically, my meal planning for the next 100 days or so is DONE as I work my way through this binder! I’ve already found one new recipe from my stash that’s a keeper (spinach and chickpeas) and one that we didn’t like (cranberry stuffed chicken roll-ups, of all things).

recipes organized by section

The last step was to add a pretty family-favorites-recipe-binder-cover and spine label. This is the really important part, so my girls can start to help with meal planning, and they’ll know where to look. I look forward to adding new recipes that they find and want to try.

recipe binderfamily favorites organized recipes

I’ve added this recipe binder cover free printable here, and you can download it to Word and easily add your family’s name.

Have you been wanting to freshen up and organize your recipes?