©2009 Professional Organizer -
Lea Schneider is the author of
A Mom to Mom Guide available at
one-on-one organizing advice via phone and email through Organize Online
division at her company website,
Organize Right Now.
Her advice is featured
here at What's Cooking America in a monthly column. You may have read her
expert organizing ideas in Woman’s Day, Natural Health, College News, and
Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms magazines and newspapers. She is a member of the National Association of Professional
Organizers and the Association of Food Journalists.
Organize Right Now LLC
Member National Association of Professional Organizers
Organize Right Now
Recipe for Organizing Cookbooks
Sure there are lots of great recipes online,
like the ones here at Whats Cooking America, but who doesn’t love
holding a cookbook filled with delicious titles of recipes and
mouthwatering pictures? Cookbooks become both a resource and an old friend.
If you have a cookbook collection, as
I do, you probably find yourself staring at the shelf occasionally
in bewilderment. You can taste the lemon ice-box pie you made. You can
picture how the recipe appears on the page. You just can't figure out which book it was in! Or, you turn to a recipe you made for a dinner
party in the past and now you can’t remember if it really did feed
eight or were the portions more suitable for six. Dagnabit!
One of the best organizing tips I learned was
in direct contradiction to how I was raised. As a child, I learned to respect books by not bending the corners and not writing in them.
Forget that with cookbooks! The cookbook belongs to you, not the library, so get liberal with your pen and your remarks.
Organizing tips for really enjoying your cookbook collection:
Taking Notes: After trying a recipe, take the time to make
some notes on that page in the cookbook. Note any variation from the recipe such as that it made less servings that you thought, it
needed to cook ten minutes longer, or that you left out the capers and still liked it. Sometimes, if I had a great combination of
things going, I might say “Great when served with orzo and roasted asparagus.”
Recipes Used: Not necessary, but fun, is to add a date and who
you first made it for. It’s fun for me to turn to a favorite
cookbook and see when I first tried something and for whom (especially since I’ve changed towns a few times).
Notes: Flagging recipes with sticky notes is also
helpful. When I find myself going back to the same recipe fairly
often, such as our favorite piquant mini-meat loaves, I’ll add a sticky note to jut out of the book.
Grouping or Sorting Cookbooks:
Grouping your cookbooks by genre can really help you with meal and
party planning. It’s great when having in a group to be able to
reach into one section of the bookshelf and find the appetizer
cookbooks and ones that are geared toward parties. Sort your
cookbooks into like kinds. Some of your divisions might be desserts,
entertaining, family favorites, ethnic cookbooks, and seasonal
recipes. My seasonal cookbooks include topics such as soups/stews,
holiday recipes, summer fresh salads, outdoor grilling, and so on.
You may also find you have a particular collection on a singular
topic. Being in the South, I have a dozen or so Southern cookbooks.
I also have a stack of books
that are on a single topic, all polenta recipes or all chicken recipes.
and Recipe Card Recipes: Merging cooking magazines with your cookbooks
in an attractive manner is easy with the addition of a few magazine holders.
A very simple and easy way to organize recipes would be to use a three-ring binder
and separator sheets to sort and file recipes.
Rotating Cookbooks: As an organizer, I advocate keeping only the
things you love, use and need. A great way to make sure you use your
cookbooks is to rotate in a different one to focus on every so
often. This past winter, I was trying to try a new soup/stew recipe
each week from a big, fat book of those. Now that it is spring, I’ve
pulled out a shiny and rather new, but unused, cookbook featuring
fresh from the garden recipes. I’ll use that for a month or two,
sampling a recipe each week.
Purging Cookbooks: Purge your cookbooks without guilt. Sometimes,
a cookbook was a gift or looked like a great cover but the inside
leaves you wanting. You flip through it multiple times and just
can’t find anything you really want to make. When that happens, just
let it go. It might not match your cooking tastes but may match
someone else’s. Offer to a friend, trade it in at a bookstore,
donate it to the library or thrift store, and move on. Enjoy the
cookbooks you really love!
Go ahead and organize your cookbook collection and make menu
planning and cooking even more fun.