This month’s focus: Organizing the Kitchen
Tip of the Month: 3 Steps to Organizing the Recipes
People who love to cook can wind up with lots of recipes – which are only useful if you can find them!
Step 1: Before organizing the recipes, first decide if you really want to keep all of them. Some questions to ponder:
- Does this recipe take more time and effort then I’m ever going to want to spend?
- Does this recipe call for unusual ingredients I’m not likely to have on hand — and will never use except for this one recipe
- Does this recipe still fit with the way I eat? Or does it call for more cream, sugar, or whatever than I’m going to want to use?
- Is this untested recipe I really want to keep (because I’m likely to use it soon, or it’s something special) — or could I find it (or something similar) with a simple computer search, if I decide I want to cook something like this?
Step 2: Once you’ve decided which recipes are worth saving, you’re ready to organize them. Usually this will involve categorizing them:
- By type of dish: appetizer, salad, soup, etc. You can start with broad cateogies and break them down into smaller categories if any one gets too big.
- By tried-and-true vs. to-be-tried. (This can be done by putting them in separate boxes/binders/whatever, or by just noting on the recipe whether it’s been tried or not.) Do be sure your frequently-used recipes are easy to find!
If your recipe collection is small, you could just use sections like Daily Favorites, Special Occasions, and To Be Tried. And if a totally different set of categories works for you, go for it!
Step 3: Finally, pick the storage mechanism that’s best for you.
1. Put them in a binder (or series of binders).
For most people, a regular 3-ring binder (with sheet protectors and tab dividers) or an Itoya Profolio will work just fine, but there are also specialized products available, such as these:
2. Put them in an accordion file.
This might be the easiest option for putting recipes away — but it’s not as easy as a binder for reviewing them when you go to cook. You can get a basic accordian file at any office supplies store, or you could get the accordion file from Meadowsweet Kitchens that’s specifically for recipes.
3. Put them in a recipe box (or series of recipes boxes).
Using an index card box does not mean you need to re-write the recipes onto cards! This is the option I use, and recipes I’ve clipped and saved just get folded up and put into the proper section. I’ve used a simple acrylic index card box (for 4 x 6 cards) that I got at the drugstore, but there are lots of options, including:
4. Store them on the computer.
There are so many computer recipe management options here that I can’t begin to list them — especially since I have no personal experience here. But this can be a great option, since computer storage lets you do things, like searching by ingredients,that can’t be done easily with paper.
Quote of the Month
My fearless sister-in-law Deirdre, who has launched what she calls a scorched closet campaign to rid her home of excess stuff, has discovered that she and my brother own no fewer than seven woven cotton blankets in varying shades of green. That, and enough Tupperware for all the leftovers in Connecticut.
List of the Month: 10 Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need
Associated Content has an interesting list, which includes:
The Popcorn Maker: With 20-odd brands of microwave popcorn and even stove-top Jiffy Pop (which IS still available), do you really need a whole additional appliance for an occasional snack food?
The Iced Tea Machine: Tea is one of the easiest things in the world to make. You take some teabags and add them to a pitcher (which you probably already have) with hot water and let the mixture steep for a period of time before you remove the bags and refrigerate the tea. What about that process is so complicated that it requires a machine?
You may not agree with all of the author’s choices, but it’s another reminder to carefully evaluate what appliances deserve room in your kitchen.
Donation/Recycling Idea of the Month (U.S. residents)
When you declutter your kitchen, you may find food products you don’t want: that item that sounded so good but no one in your family likes, for example — the one you now have 10 cans of, just taking up space. Your local food bank would be one good place to donate it.
Note: Associated Content was purchased, and much of its content removed, in 2011 — so I can no longer link to the article I quoted. Also, the sample products included here have been updated since this newsletter was first written, since many of the products listed then are no longer available.