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Make your mother's day - reorganize your recipes

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AS A TEENAGER in the 1970s, I gave my mom a new recipe card box and organized her recipes one Mother’s Day. Today, we have more options for organizing recipes than our mothers did. Here are two methods; one is low-tech and one is high-tech.

But first, let’s consider those piles of yet-to-be-tested recipes. Are there bushels of yellowed, crumpled recipes cluttering your space? Most people use only a quarter of the recipes they have. Be a smart cook and evaluate your recipe collecting habits. How do you feel when you see those piles? Do you feel guilty or hopeless? If you haven’t used it, it’s time to lose it!
The same goes for recipes you tried but weren’t crazy about: Didn’t love it? Lose it. Think “less is more” in the kitchen. Start a new habit of clipping a recipe only when you have a specific use in mind. Set a goal of trying one new recipe (more if you enjoy cooking) each week.

Custom Cookbook: Build a binder
Use a 3-ring binder with plastic page protectors and pocket pages with tabs for categories. Print broad categories on the tabs, such as appetizers, soups, salads, breads, meat/fish/poultry, main dishes and desserts. (If you cook and entertain frequently, you may need several binders with more specific categories. For example, divide desserts into cakes, pies, cookies).

The ease of this system is that it accommodates recipes collected from varied sources: newspapers, magazines, printed from the Internet, cookbooks, or handwritten. By pasting the recipe to a full sheet of paper and inserting it in a page protector, your recipe is protected from spills and splashes while cooking. If the recipe is short, there will be room for another on the same page. Economize space by inserting additional recipes on the flip side of each page protector. Your binder can also cross reference your cookbooks. No need to copy the recipe; simply record the recipe name and cookbook with page number on a sheet. Then insert the sheet in the page protector and place it in the appropriate category.

Whatever system you choose, set it up with recipes that you use now. Don’t concern yourself with the backlog until your tried and true recipes are incorporated in a system.

After purging the backlog of untried recipes down to a reasonable amount,you are ready to organize what’s left. Keep untried recipes separate from others. Untried recipes may be slipped into pockets with tabs within the appropriate category, or filed in folders.

What about paper scanning of recipes? Generally this isn’t practical because it’s very time intensive, and scanners may not recognize handwritten recipes.