How I Organized My Recipe Binder (For Easier Meal Planning!)

How I Organized My Recipe Binder (For Easier Meal Planning!)

How I Organized My Recipe Binder in 8 Steps

Awhile back when I was on a decluttering binge, I knew I had to tackle my collection of cookbooks and magazine clippings of recipes. I wanted to have a concise, pared down system of recipes, so I created a recipe binder. This makes meal planning so much easier! 

It is nothing fancy, but it is simple and it works for me.

If you want to create something similar to mine, I’ve listed the materials I used:

    1. A 3-ring binder of any color – Mine is black but feel free to get colorful:)
    2. Sheet protectors – These keep your papers from getting dirty.
    3. Tab dividers – To make categories of recipes.
    4. Label Maker & Tape – I use this to type out the categories of recipes.
    5. Folder – I have one folder in the back of my binder that I use to hold recipes that I haven’t tried yet and I’m not sure I want to keep.
    6. Recipes – These could be from magazine clippings and other sources.
    7. White Blank Paper
    8. Printer

Step 1 – Purge and Decide What To Keep

After going through all my recipe books, recipes I had bookmarked online, and recipes from magazine clippings, I decided which ones I really wanted to keep.

Going through my recipe books, I got rid of most of them and only kept two. In those books I only like a few recipes so I have a sticky note on the pages of the recipes I like so that I can quickly go to those recipes in future and not have to go through the entire recipe book again.

Step 2 – Use Sheet Protectors For Your Physical Collection of Recipes

The recipes that I wanted to keep from magazine clippings I put in a sheet protector. I also had a lot of recipes that I had written by hand on a lined sheet of paper that I also placed in the sheet protectors.

If there is a recipe that I haven’t tried yet and I am not sure I am going to like it,  I reserve that recipe for the folder I use in the back of my binder. If I try that recipe and want to keep it, I then put it in a sheet protector and in the main sections of the binder (which I will explain later).

Step 3 – Copy/Paste, Type Out, or Just Print Your Favorite Recipes Found Online

Some of the recipes that I previously found online and bookmarked I just print from the website if I really wanted to keep it. But I knew my binder would look a little neater if I had most of my recipes printed with the same font and size so I used a word document and did a copy and paste of the recipe, formatted the font and size and printed the recipes. I also like the fact that I have a folder saved on my computer with these recipes in case I ever want to do a re-print.

For the recipes that I found on video with no recipe instructions written out, I had to watch the video and type it all out on a word document ( this part could be time-consuming, I know). Luckily there weren’t many that I had to type.

Once I had all the online recipes printed, I put them in sheet protectors.

Step 4 – Decide What Recipe Categories You Are Going To Use

Having different categories to place my recipes in makes it so easy to find a recipe.

The categories I used are as follows:

  • Main Meals
  • Side Dishes
  • Soups, Salads, Sandwiches
  • Appetizers
  • Desserts & Sweet Snacks
  • Breakfast & Bread

You can of course use different categories to suit your own needs. If you have a lot of dessert recipes for example, you might want to further break down the categories according to the type of desserts such as: cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc.

Step 5 – Use The Label Maker to Make Your Categories

Have the tab dividers on hand so you can see the size of the tab you are working with when making the categories. You also want to decide which order your categories will be in and which divider you will be using for them. Create all your labels and stick them on the tab dividers.

Step 6 – Setup Your Binder

This is the fun part since your recipe binder will be almost done:) Place the divider tabs in the 3-ring binder with the categories in the correct order. Add your sheet protected recipes in the correct categories.

Step 7 – Add The Folder To The Recipe Binder

Do you remember in step 2, I mentioned using a recipe folder? Well, mine has 3 holes and 2 pockets so that I could fit it right in my 3 ring binder. You can get the same one on amazon here.

Alternatively, you could use a regular file folder and it would work just fine too. This folder goes in the back of the binder. Place any recipes that you haven’t tried and want to try someday in this folder. If you try it and want to keep it, it then goes into a sheet protector and in the correct category of the recipe binder. If you don’t think you will be making that recipe again, toss it in the recycling bin.

Now you might think my recipe binder is done at this point, but no way. The next step has got to be my favorite part of the binder:)

Step 8 – Create a Recipe List

I created a list of the categories I use most often. I made a list for the ‘main meals’ category a list for the ‘side dishes’ category, and a list for the ‘desserts & sweet snacks’ category.

Why did I create these lists?

Well, it makes meal planning so easy!

When I am deciding what to make, I just have to go to the list and decide instead of flipping through all my recipes. I keep my lists at the front of binder. 

But there’s another even better reason why I love having this list. It is separated by type. For example, all the meatless meals are listed together, all the meals made with chicken are listed together, all the slow cooker and freezer meals are listed together, and so on. The How Jen Does It youtube channel is where I got this idea on listing by type.

Listing your recipes under the type makes it even easier to plan your meals because you can see what kind of meat you have in the freezer to then decide what type of meal you are going to make. If you have a lot of chicken, then you only go to the section of your list where the chicken recipes are listed and choose from there.

Here’s what my main meals list looks like…(sorry for the bad lighting but you get the idea:))

Recipe List (by category) to make it easier to find!

That’s my recipe binder organized in 8 steps:)

Related Posts:

If you want to organize your recipes using a different method, as opposed to using a binder I’ve listed a few ideas below. There is even a link to download a free meal planner sheet.

Side Note: Is your kitchen tiny that it doesn’t even have a pantry? I can relate! Check out some neat ways to organize a small kitchen with no pantry.

Other Ways To Organize Your Recipes

  1. Recipe Books:

Maybe you like collecting recipe books and prefer the color photos in a book. I do love recipe books but I love my space even more so I only have 2 recipe books right now. If I were to buy another recipe book, I would consider the 5 Ingredient Cookbook since it fits well with my simplified lifestyle.

  1. Recipe Box:

I know some people that like having their recipes on a small recipe card. You could make one yourself using a small box and index cards or you can get them already pre-made with categories.

  1.  Online Resources:

There are places online where you can get all your recipes from and organize your recipes. is a big site of recipes where you can create a profile and save recipes. Pinterest is also an awesome place to gather and organize recipes that you find online.

There is no right way to organize your recipes. It’s all a matter of preference and I do love my recipe binder:)

If you struggle with meal planning, you may want to try out the $5 Meal Plan. You get meal plans by email with them. The first two weeks are free and then you only pay $5 a month for meal plans sent to you along with a shopping list you need to make the meals.

Meal Planning Template Free Download

Having some sort of meal planning in place is crucial to reduce stress, reduce food waste, and save you money in the long run. This worksheet may or may not work for you depending on your family situation but it is surely better than no plan at all.

Click the link from the Life In Yellow blog, where you can download this meal planning template. When you get to the page link, it is on the bottom of that page…Meal Planning Free Download

How do you organize your recipes? Is there another method you want to try? Feel free to share in the comment section below…

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