Oh, to be organized! With oodles of appetizer recipes, and recipes for the family floating around the internet and around your kitchen, wouldn't it be nice to keep track of them?
The simple days
It used to be so simple. Did you watch your mom collect recipe cards from friends, or perhaps she had some that were handed down from her mother? The neat little 3 by 5 cards were filed in a box that was kept on a kitchen shelf. Perhaps there were favorites bookmarked in a cookbook. Mom always knew where they were.
Now, though, we can easily pick up appetizer recipes online. It is almost overwhelming how many results you can get from a single, specific search. Which ones do you try, and how do you keep track of them? Just take a look at the myriad of cookbooks on store shelves. You could cook a different meal every day of your life and never get through all the published recipes!
If you like order in your kitchen, but also like to browse for, and prepare online recipes, then there is hope. There are tools that can help even the most disorganized among us.
- One online tool that allows you to handle several functions is Cook'n. It is a roughly $80 investment, but it allows you to get nutritional information about recipes, generate shopping lists, print family cookbooks, and sync with your iPhone or Android.
- If you like the tech of online recipe organizers, then bigoven ($30) might be for you. It comes with some recipes and allows you to add your own.
- If you're looking for a free tool, AZZ card file is customizable. No need to fit recipes in predetermined categories, this allows you to create your own.
Not everyone wants to preserve their recipes online. If you have some favorites that were handed down, like a family recipe card handwritten by your grandmother, or an appetizer recipe torn from a magazine with a fabulous photo, you may want to organize the old-fashioned way.
Using a three-ring binder is your best option. You can use plastic page protectors and slip your recipe pages inside. There are pages made to hold 3×5 index cards too. If you have a recipe card that is larger, attach it to a sheet of paper and slip it into a full plastic page.
For those handwritten, sentimental favorites, try laminating them first for extra protection.
Everyone has a sorting system for recipes. You may categorize by side dishes, hors d'oeuvres, meats, seafood, grilling, salads, dessert etc... or you may simply sort by main dish, side dish, appetizer. Whatever your system, if you have a lot of recipes it's helpful to either keep them alphabetically for easy access, or to develop a sub-category.
If you have a main dish category, you can separate the casseroles from the grilled items and from the regular baked or roasted dishes. Within that, you can even separate once again by type of ingredient (chicken, beef, vegetarian). This will help you zero in on exactly what you're looking for.
If you have a recipe that fits more than one category – for instance, an appetizer recipe that could also be used as a side, or a dinner that could be tweaked for use as an appetizer, place a copy in both categories. This way, you won't forget about that recipe if you're looking at the category it's not typically used for.
The take away
Whatever system you use, whether it's high tech, or traditional, keeping yourself organized in the kitchen feels good. When it comes time to figure out what you want to make, you can spend less time sorting through recipes, and more time creating dishes that will wow your family or guests.