family recipe binder

Sep 29

if you’re like me, you cherish family recipes that you as a child grew up eating.

there are many dishes that i will always associate with special times spent at my grandmother’s house. she makes so many wonderful dishes that are a special part of the various family holidays and events we share together. it just wouldn’t be Easter without her yummy scalloped potatoes. they are slightly firm yet really creamy…and they have so much cheese and have a crackled look after they are baked. so delicious my mouth waters at the thought of them!

and then there are the dishes my mom makes. when i came home from a long day of school or cheerleading practice, just smelling that aroma when i walked in the front door made me melt with happiness. especially when she made corn fritters with hollandaise sauce. yummmm! i couldn’t get my homework done fast enough in order to eat dinner.

yea, you know what recipes i’m talking about = those!

those recipes deserve a place of honor in your home.

one year, after starting a family of my own, it was my mission to have my mom and grandmother write down their recipes so we could have them for generations to come. having each of them write those recipes was a full-time job in and of itself. especially because, as most family members do, they only know the recipe by heart and don’t have it written down anywhere. they have made the dishes year after year and when they make it, it’s from their heart.

it took them both the better part of a year but we got the job done. they had to make the recipes in order to document how many tablespoons of this and how many cups of that created that particular recipe. once they mailed me their recipes, i put them away in a drawer for safe keeping.

(on a sidenote – if you don’t have your family recipes written down and saved somewhere, that would be a great and fun family project to complete. nothing makes you happier than re-creating those special dishes and serving them to your own children to enjoy!)

in addition to those family recipes, i had millions (ok, maybe not millions….but it sure seemed like it when i was weeding through them!) of other recipes put away in that same drawer. magazine tear outs, recipes from the newspaper, recipes from friends, and so on were all collected in a file folder hanging in our office desk.

eventually (in between changing diapers and attending play-dates) I got around to putting them into a simple binder. here is what my old recipe binder looked like:

i had so many recipes that i broke them up into two binders; one for salads, soups, main dishes, sides, etc and the other was for anything related to sweets:

yes, this was all pre-label maker….so happy to own one of these now! it’s practically an appendage:

should i dare show you the file folders that used to hold those tear outs and family recipes? ahhhh, why not. nothing to lose now. here are my “recipes to try” folders:

anything i made and was deemed a keeper by our family was placed in the “recipe keeper” file:

sadly, you will notice the difference in size between the “try” and “keep” folders. ha! a busy mom of 3 doesn’t always have time to try new recipes. especially during a long summer when all 3 kids are home and hanging off every appendage…even the label maker appendage previously mentioned.
the old binder was *ok* at getting the job done, but the post-it note labels were beginning to get wrinkled and become an annoyance to me. i wanted something updated and with a simple, appealing look.
first up was to empty the binder. i kept the old binder because it was in great shape. however, you may choose to start with a new one, if you don’t have one hanging around the house. my binder is a 1″, but i’m certain i will upgrade to a bigger one as our recipe collection grows:

some other supplies you will need are section divider tabs:

and page protectors:

and don’t forget your label maker, if you plan on using one.

next, it’s time to sort through the recipes you have. in my case, i wanted to throw out any recipes that we, as a family, did not absolutely love. not counting those family recipes, of course. while sorting through the recipes already in my old binder, i figured it would be a good time to sort through the recipes in those hanging files too.
here is the stack of papers ready for recycling after that very therapeutic purge:

(by the way, a laundry basket is a great vehicle for collecting items to donate or trash while you are sorting a project.)

once i had all of the recipes sorted into keeps and trash, i stacked them into categories. then, it was time to create labels for the section dividers:

page protectors aren’t necessary, but they sure are a great way to keep spills and splatters off of those precious recipes you love. for example:

wow, i must have been in *the zone* while making this dish. look at those splatters!

i also left 15 empty page protectors in the back of the binder for the times i need to add a new recipe. that keeps me from having to dig through the office closet to find one (yes, that office closet project = coming soon…hopefully in November when my dad is here to help build out the closet space. look for that post this fall!).
once all of our favorite and cherished recipes were in the binder, i created a simple title page to insert in the front pocket:

and that was it! our family recipe binder is complete! and when we find new dishes we love, it’s easy enough to add them right into the binder.

i have kept one hanging file folder for recipes in my office desk. from here on, i will add recipes i would like to try to the “recipes to try” folder. if it’s a keeper, it goes straight into the binder. if it’s not a keeper, the recipe page is recycled. i have found this to be a much easier system for staying organized. there is nothing worse than putting a system in place and then not being able to stay on top of it. this system has been tried and tested in my own home for several months and it’s working great!

each week i pick one or two new recipes from the “recipes to try” folder and add it to our weekly meal plan. it doesn’t add too much pressure on me and we’ve been able to try some great new additions/foods.

what are you doing to cherish family recipes and how are you organizing them? i’d love to hear from you!
(i linked up this project with!)

comments +

  1. sounds like a great simple idea, i will be creating this soon. Thank you !

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