Have you ever wanted to make a fabulous dish that you knew was a hit the last time you made it, but for the life of you, you cannot remember where you found the recipe?
You hunt through your collection of cookbooks, but it’s not there. Nor is it in your list of saved links on Facebook. Maybe Pinterest? Nope, not there, either. Where did you get that recipe??
Frustrating, isn’t it? I know the feeling!
That’s why years ago, in order to keep track of the recipes I tried, making them easier to locate later, I created a recipe database. While I haven’t always kept up the habit (and I regret it!), it was a total sanity-saver when I did, and I plan to dive back into the practice.
In the meantime, I have also developed a system for storing the recipes I find all over the Internet. This system has saved me countless hours and headaches when it comes time to find a particular recipe. While pinning on Pinterest or bookmarking on browsers are nice, what you really need for easy access and retrieval is a centralized location with the ability to organize, search, and tag your recipes.
And I’m going to show you how to do all that!
If you’re tired of flipping through cookbooks, hunting through folders, clicking through countless links, and scouring your Pinterest boards every time you want to make an all-star meal, then you need to read about my recipe database and filing system! I’ll even throw in a free copy of my recipe spreadsheet at the end!
**Links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you click that link and purchase the product, I may receive a small compensation. I am, however, committed to honestly assessing the products mentioned. Please read my disclosure policy for more details. **
Why I First Created A Recipe Database
When Levon and I first got married, I knew next to nothing about cooking. I had barely cooked before I met him. I definitely didn’t have any tried-and-true favorites in my back pocket.
So, in order to expand my pitiful repertoire, I created a challenge for myself. For the entire first year of our marriage, I did not repeat a recipe. I knew I had a lot to learn, and I wanted to learn it as quickly as possible, so every time I cooked, I tried something new.
To keep track of the recipes I was discovering and trying, I created a recipe spreadsheet. Initially, this spreadsheet was designed to help me learn and grow as a new cook, but it had another benefit, as well. It also reminded me which dishes I wanted to try again in the future and helped me locate them when that time came.
What’s in My Recipe Spreadsheet?
Here are the basic elements in my recipe spreadsheet:
Name of the recipe
The first column is the name of the recipe. This helps me find it in my cookbooks, and it also offers some description of the dish.
Type of recipe
The second column describes what kind of dish it is, i.e. main dish, side dish, salad, dessert, etc. This helps me search for recipes later. If I’m looking for a salad, I can either use the Find feature to search for all the salads or use the sort tool to put all the salads together.
This is where I can find the recipe. I write the name of the cookbook, “binder” for my recipe binder, or “Evernote” for all my digital recipes.
The page number in the cookbook where the recipe is located.
Notes about how we liked it
I often think we’ll remember how we liked a recipe, but it’s amazing how quickly I completely forget how a particular recipe went over. This is especially true when I experiment with recipes that are very similar, such as different types of chili soups. Here I put comments like “Great!” or “Favorite!” or “Lisa Favorite/Levon Favorite.” It’s extremely helpful when I’m looking for a recipe later to scan for all the “favorites.”
In the final column I put notes to myself if I ever make the recipe again. I might write about changes I would make next time, notes about difficulty level, or comments about the amount of time it took.
Here’s a little sample of the total package:
Organizing My Digital Recipes for Easy Access & Retrieval
I used to save recipes I found online in many different places. I had pins on Pinterest, bookmarks in my browser, favorites in allrecipes.com, and clippings in Evernote. Any time I wanted to make something I had previously saved, I had to search all these different locations until I tracked it down. And browsing them to find inspiration for my meal plans was time-consuming.
I decided I need a new, more centralized, system. For that system, I turned to my trusty friend Evernote.
My Evernote Recipe System
If you’re not familiar with Evernote, it’s a cross-platform app that allows you to collect, store, and organize content. Files can be organized in a hierarchy of notes and notebooks, tagged, and searched. It’s a fabulous system that has worked very well for me.
Here are the highlights:
Create a Recipe Notebook
This is the notebook I clip recipes to from the Web.
This is one of my favorite functions of Evernote. Easier and simpler than a complicated hierarchy of files and folders, tagging my recipes allows me to search them with ease. I can add an unlimited number of tags describing the dish, and then search by those tags when I need to pull it up again.
A few of my most-commonly used tags are “tried it,” “liked it,” “real food,” “quick,” “freezer meal,” and “garden.”
My mother-in-law (an expert cook) has been inspiring me and training me to take notes about the recipes I try. Evernote makes it extremely easy to jot down notes right on the clipped recipe.
Move them into my weekly planning system
As I create my menu plans, I can move the recipes I will need to my Current Week notebook. I explain more about my weekly planning system and other Evernote features in my free ebook, How to Organize Your Entire Life: The Ultimate Answer for a Cluttered Mind.
Get a FREE Download of My Recipe Spreadsheet
Are you interested in keeping a recipe database for yourself? Let me help! I’ve done the work of building the spreadsheet, all you have to do is fill it in as you prepare delicious meals for your family!
Sign up for my weekly newsletter for access to this and all the other resources in my vault of freebies!
Have you ever been frustrated when it comes time to plan your meals or make a family favorite, knowing that you have the perfect recipe but forgetting where it is?
Save yourself some time and headaches with a recipe spreadsheet and Evernote system. See the difference it can make in your own life!
What do you think? Is this an issue for you? Do you think this might be a solution? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
You Might Also Enjoy:
- My Free Budget Spreadsheet
- Taming My Out-Of-Control Recipe Collection
- 9 Invaluable Cooking Resources to Make You a Suppertime Superstar
- How to Create a Menu Plan That Works For You!