Getting Organized – Saving Recipes

When DH and I were married back in the 70s, we were barely able to make ends meet.  I was a fledgling cook, with many disasters in the kitchen yet to come.  I was relying on Julia Child to teach me, and I faithfully watched her French Chef cooking show every week.  The local paper would print the main recipe for the lesson each week, and I carefully cut out each one to reference while watching the show.  I collected recipes in magazines too as they were the best way to get new ideas and even more lessons. The only cookbook I owned was a wedding gift, The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, and believe it or not I still use it today for roasting times and a few favorite recipes like Pumpkin bread.

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

I cut recipes out of magazines like Women’s Day and Family Circle, because I could buy those magazines for 59 cents, and they came with at least $5 worth of coupons.   We didn’t know about archival papers or acid free mounting in those days, so I just used heavy card stock paper and rubber cement. You can see now how that glue has turned brown, and many of the recipes are no longer stuck to the pages.

Binder cookbook

Even then, I was cutting out the pictures to go along with the recipe. This cloth bound binder in vintage 1970s Harvest Gold was my first one.  It is falling apart now, but I still love looking at it.


For some years, the Women’s Day magazine came with a little cookbooklet bound inside and I diligently cut those out and saved them.  I collected little ones from the gas company, Bisquick, Kraft foods, Spam, Pillsbury and anywhere else I could find.  It is fun to see how our ideas of good eating have changed over the years, from hearty and easy to more healthy.  If you are really interested in how our perceptions of what is healthy has changed, read Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, or see the PBS show.  Even so, there are some classic recipes in here that would be good to serve today.


I still like to do this, many years later, although these days I am pretty picky about what I cut out. It has to be truly original, or something that really strikes me to make my book nowadays. But, when I get a stack of cooking magazines, I go through them to see what might be new and different. If I don’t cut them up, they go back to the library for someone else to use.

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

In later years, after I filled up two binders like the gold one, I realized that photo albums would work better. I could add some sheet protectors in front of the album pages and save whole pages from magazines.  This idea works well for multi-page articles with lots of gorgeous pictures.  Many of these pages were taken from Bon Appetit articles with whole menus for everyday and holiday meals, along with gorgeous food photos.

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

The photo pages are perfect for mounting the cut-out recipes, just lift the plastic, position and replace the plastic cover. No glue!

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

It took several years to fill up two of those too. I have thought that someday I need to reorganize the albums into savory and sweet, but I doubt I’ll ever get to that. I just look through the pages, like a nice cookbook, for an idea of what to cook next. I may take an idea from one page, and pair it with a sauce on another page for a completely new meal.  Most of the time the juxtaposition of one thing to another sparks an idea of my own. It is particularly helpful to consult these books while making a list for the store, so I know I have everything I need for the meal. So, this week, I’ll be adding some recipes from the magazines, with a couple of new ideas.

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

Mostly now I use the binders and albums for inspiration, although there are a some recipes I go back to again and again – like the Sourdough Stuffing with Bacon and Leeks from Bon Appetit magazine.  If I need something specific, I often use one of my favorite cooking sites (like Epicurious), or go to the cookbook shelves where I have over 200 cookbooks, but there are times when I just don’t know what I want to do.

Cookbook shelves

I am going to try to organize the cookbooks this month, and donate some to Books for Good.  They take up space in three bookshelves in three different rooms, and that is probably a bit too many.  This part of the overflow is in the library, with some of the foodie books on the top shelf with my favorite mystery novel series by Diane Mott Davidson (with recipes!).


I have some sets though that I just want to keep, like the Southern Living Annuals series that I have collected from the beginning in 1979, or the Good Taste series pictured below. But maybe some of the other ones could move on to a new home.

Good Taste

And we cannot even talk about the Christmas books that include recipes and craft/quilting projects! This is after I donated some of the Spirit of Christmas books and a dozen or so individual Christmas books.  I have the Christmas with Southern Living series from its beginning in 1981, and all the Christmas with Victoria series which was short lived – only 7 volumes.  Those are keepers.

Christmas books

Then there are the ones above the refrigerator where I removed the doors to the cabinet there and turned into a display area.  I keep my Julia Child collection there.  This picture is from my post on Decorating with Books.


I didn’t even take a picture of the Gooseberry Patch collection, the keepers in the closet, or the ones stacked in the kitchen and on the pie safe, LOL!! I am setting a goal of donating 10 cookbooks to make some room on the shelves.  Here is what I pulled yesterday for donation.  It’s a good start.


Do you save recipes from magazines and other sources? How do you keep yours? Are you a cookbook collector?

My blog is a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living. I love to have new followers, too! See the buttons on the sidebar to follow by your favorite method. If you are visiting from Hometalk, Pinterest, a link up site, or just found me, please stay a bit and have a look around, my tutorials are gathered at the top in pages to make them easy to find. Lots of fun is had here, and I invite you to follow with any of your favorite methods.  You can see more about my blog on my Meet and Greet post. Follow by email so you won’t miss my annual Autumn Jubilee event in October with lots of projects and tutorials though the month with a great line up of giveaway sponsors. You can see last year’s event by clicking on the category Autumn Jubilee on the sidebar. Click on the blog title above to see the latest posts on the blog.

Fat Quarter Shop’s Notion of the Month  30% Off!!
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Free Trial is just $2.99 a month!
Thought about becoming an affiliate for your blog?  Click on ShareASale!
Thank you for using my affiliate links when you can.  See my full disclosure HERE.

19 thoughts on “Getting Organized – Saving Recipes

  1. I’ve always loved cookbooks! And magazines with beautiful pictures and good recipes. I’ve cut too many out over the years but still enjoy the process. Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!

  2. Rosemaryflower

    Yes, it is good to go through these notebooks that we saved.
    Mine have recipes and also table designs. I have some of these pull out books from Womens Day.
    Now I have inherited my mom’s cook books. Greek cooking, French cooking, all sorts of cooking.
    I hope you find a good home for your books you wish to give away, There are plenty of people hunting for these things.
    We used to have a Goodwill store in Leesburg that was specifically for books, records, all things a library would offer.
    They moved. I think they found a better place and I have no idea where that is. Now we just have the basic Goodwill, that I rarely go into, it is big, wonderful and very tempting. I have to stay away!
    I also have three boxes of mom’s lace making books, her guild books and a lot of bobbins and well, just everything.
    Ohhhhh stuff. If only we could safely bury it all, really deep into the earth in to a time capsule to be discovered a thousand years from now… 😀

  3. I too am an avid recipe clipper and like you have bound my treasures in binders. One of my friends refers to them as the greatest recipes never made. But I have made many of those recipes, my favorites are on index cards in a little box faded with age kind of like me. In 1973 I graduated high school with 4 years of Home Ec classes under my belt and set up my first apartment with a well stocked kitchen, my farberware, pyrex bowls and tupperware are still serving me well though my nieces call it retro style to me its just my kitchen stuff. I’m a Betty Crocker cookbook lover and discovered Good Housekeeping Illustrated years ago while hunting for a recipe for mushroom turnovers.Happy New Year

  4. Mildred Plaskett

    I had a lot of clipped recipes and cook books too, but when I retired a few years ago decided it was time to only keep the books and recipes I have used or maybe will use and the recipes from my mother. I passed the books on to my nieces and great nieces and now have maybe 10 books and a recipe box. Happy New Year!

  5. Melanie

    I am hopelessly addicted to collecting cookbooks and recipes I have saved in numerous notebooks and those printed from the internet and from friends. My husband saw long ago that this could be a compulsion with my clipping recipes from the newspaper and he signed me up for a recipe card collection, a wonderful “flash card” type system in a see through plastic box, each packet of assorted recipes by category to arrive monthly. I LOVED it and still have it. Oh, they ended my membership when they ran out of recipes to send me! LOL I have shared that story with many friends who think THEY might need a 12-step program for a cookbook/recipe collecting compulsion. :o)

  6. Barbara Jenkins

    I have a few but by no means am I a collector. For the most part, I rely on my recipe box with so many dishes written out by my mother and grandmother. These are my treasures. The books I do use are a Julia’s Joy of Cooking and the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book. I used to have a Good Housekeeping one but gave it to my daughter when she set up housekeeping.
    My book collection consists mostly of quilting and cross stitch books…..

  7. Jennie Rauch

    Well I can’t hold a candle to your collection, but do have a few, probably a few too many! I have the Rachael Ray cookbook on the top of your donation list – have’t used it much. I experiment with a new recipe at least once a week, sometimes more. Have binders with glycine protectors on some Food Network recipes, love that I can increase the print font for easier/quicker use! Depending on the number of recipes, I have a Soups/Breads binder, Main Dish/Salads binder, Desserts. Of course I love my large, long recipe file from hubby years ago. Nothing like seeing a friend or family member’s handwriting on a recipe they’ve shared. Books of any kind are hard to part with – as we’ve moved around in our married life, they are old familiar friends. There may be a few I could part with after living in the same place going on 20 years. We’ll see!

  8. Nancy Daugherty

    Boy I can relate to this. But mine are in big envelopes that either I have cut out or printed off the computer. Then my book shelf does look like yours. My sewing items and patterns look like this also. I wish I had a magic wand to clean it all up.

  9. Jo N.

    I am very much like you. I have 3 binders with recipes in page protectors. The binders are organized by category and when we go on our 5 month stay in our rv these travel with me. I have years of Bon Appetite and Gourmet magazines that I routinely look through. I love to try new recipes and not always rely on the old and familiar.

    Jo N.

  10. Good Morning Carole! We awoke to a beautiful coat of white frost this morning. Which means I will be staying inside and finishing some sewing/quilting projects and also helping hubby move the Christmas decorations to their closet home. Then rearranging the living room furniture to help make an area for a bit of crafting/quilting area. It will be a fun day; rearranging furniture, cleaning and so forth has always been something I enjoy doing.

    Oh my goodness, you definitely do have a splendid cookbook collection! I have a total of about 15 in my collection and then called it quits. I realized that I seldom used them, aside from a few recipes and just could not see family and friends spending their money on an item that I loved to look through but just really did not do anything with. Part of the reason I do not make many dishes out of my cook books is that my family members are not individuals who like to try new dishes. Even when it involves ingredients that I know they eat and enjoy; they are real hard core meat and potato kind of people. LOL. I still get out my cook books and just sit and dream about throwing a huge party with different varieties of dishes at different times of the year. It really can be a fun way to relax. I also want to applaud you on donating the cookbooks that you are! It can be difficult to depart with treasured collections, even if they are not are favorites. They still are part of that collection; yet, hopefully some other new wife will begin her collection of cookbooks and learning to cook just like you with picking up one or several of your donated cookbooks. That is the way I always try and look at it!

    Thank You so much for sharing another bit about yourself and truly enjoyed every word and photo! Have a wonderful creative day!

  11. I am frequently ripping recipes out of magazines, I buy large spiral bound books and glue them in. Savoury recipes in the front, desserts etc at the back. No order to it. I still have a bag of pages and need to get another book for them. I have started pinning alot now on Pinterest too, and still buy lots of cookbooks, and get them from the library.

  12. I’m guilty of hording recipes and cook books ( along with many other things ) . A couple of years ago I did the big purge with cook books and still have more than I really need too 😦 I still use old fashion recipe boxes to keep all of my clipped ones in… but considering going with your notebook style.

  13. I enjoyed reading about all your cookbooks. I culled mine when we moved, cutting the pile down to what would fit on one shelf! Many of the old books had only two or three things that I wanted to keep, so I copied them and threw the book away. Recipes from family and friends live in two index card boxes. My new method is to store recipes in the computer. That is so handy when people ask for a recipe — just attach the file to an email message. Lest I appear inhuman, I’ll tell you that I’m still grieving for three of my favorite cookbooks that got lost when we moved.

  14. Sharon Schipper

    1970, Sears Wish Book premium (purchase with purchase) was the latest version of the Betty Crocker cookbook, Mom got one for all three of her daughters. Mine has been in pieces for 20 years: i threw out the parts I never used, punched the rest and they are in a binder. I have an old photo album with tons of handwritten family recipes in it, and I treasure my Southern Living cookbook set (evil stuff!). One I have yet to go through I bought because I had an elderly client who had her original 1930s copy of the White House Cookbook, so I bought a reproduction. She showed me her recipe for raccoon! hardy, pioneer stock she was! I’ve even got some of those woman’s day pullouts, and remember the best=of series I think it was in McCall’s? best cheesecake etc. I have a few of those pages as well! What I should have asked for for Christmas was a Neat Receipts scanner, to scan in all my recipes that are from magazines and friends that are becoming unreadable… My sis collects old cookbooks, I sent her a couple I found for her present this year. Who has Joy of Cooking? betcha loads of your readers! and I always look when I’m in a thrift store for pyrex and tupperware, the best stuff! what fun, at one point I even some of those booklets we got in home ec classes…

  15. VickiT

    OH gosh, cookbooks and recipes? I stopped counting my cookbooks at 300. I don’t want to know how many more I have after that number. And recipes? OH gosh, yes, I have tons of them clipped from magazines and newspapers. I had started to type them each up and put them into my computer but got sidetracked doing other things so they all got tossed into the same place at least. They’re in a big box out in our back storage room. I have a HUGE collection of recipes, some of my Mom’s which were transferred to digital form by typing them so they’d not be lost somewhere. In my computer that recipe file, which is organized much like you would find in any cookbook by topic, such as appetizer, main dish, then further to subject like beef, pork, poultry, etc. That main recipe folder is currently 6.04GB with 20,287 files. Yea, I have just a ‘few’ recipes. LOL Cooking has been my first love since I was about 7 yrs old. I’ve never been afraid to try anything. I’d open my Mom’s cookbook when I was young and ask her to buy ingredients we didn’t have and off I’d go. One year in maybe 8th grade, I remember making Bohemian Christmas Braid Bread for all of the people we knew, including my parents’ friends. They turned out just beautiful. I remember having a blast making each of them. Now? I would never make that many, and yes, it was A LOT as my parents had a huge number of friends. My Mom created not only the Garden Club in our little town, but also a card club and was active in church, while my Father was the town Attorney and had a 2nd law office in a larger city nearby as well. I quickly just looked up to find a recipe similar to this bread in case you wondered what I’m talking about and found this. It’s very close Sadly, there is no picture on that website, but the top 2 pictures are fairly close on this page, although there are no red/green glace cherries on those.

    I used to be always making something in my kitchen. I love cooking and baking to the delight of my family. I’m thrilled that all three of my boys are fearless in trying to make new recipes themselves, although they still call Mom wanting a recipe I used to make. One of them was so afraid of me dying without writing down my chili recipe about 10 yrs ago that he begged me almost daily to please do it. LOL It took me alot of tries to get that done as I used three different recipes to start and then along with combining parts of each of them, I added my own twist to it as well. Finally I got it done and he is thrilled. In fact, his girlfriend/almost fiancee (soon I wish) LOVES it and says it’s the best chili she’s ever had. When she makes it she always takes some to her Dad who tasted it once and fell in love with it too but he doesn’t cook so she makes him a bunch. And my son takes it to work in a bit pot once in awhile but won’t share the recipe saying it’s a family secret. LOL He’s so bad. It’s partly true since it is a family secret, especially since it was all in my own head for a lot of years. I was always going to enter it into a chili cookoff but never did. I keep trying to get my son to take it and enter it at the local cookoff each Fall but he hasn’t yet. He’s still considering it. I’d be thrilled to know it won, IF I was lucky enough.

    Guess I’ll shut up now. I think you’ve probably figured out what my favorite thing is other than sewing and/or quilting by now.

    I LOVE how you have such a great bit of history in all your clippings in how they’re in all those books. I really love how they have ‘weathered’ over the years because it shows their age. What a great resource to have and pass on to your kids some day, even if only to have something Mom put together over many years. How fun. I’d LOVE to look through all those.

  16. Such amazing organization of your clippings! I have mine in a couple of file folders and lurking under the plastic wrap in a kitchen drawer.

    I gave away more than 70 cookbooks when we left MA in 1997 and gifted a 25 year collection of Gourmet Magazine to a young woman just starting a catering business.

    Since then, I have been more judicious about adding books and gave away a lot more when we left MD for CA in 2014. I now browse new cookbooks at B&N and get them from the library. I do, however, think I need to actually buy at least one of Ina Garten’s books soon!

    I do like to read new recipes for menu ideas but usually only actually follow baking recipes mostly as written.

  17. dezertsuz

    That’s such interesting information about you and how your mind works. I received a Betty Crocker cookbook from someone when I was married. I’m on my third copy, having tattered the others. This time I just got a paperback, figuring it would last almost as long. I don’t consider myself a cook at all – that was my husband. I don’t really collect cut out ones, though if there’s something good I find on a blog or the internet, I pop it in my recipes folder on the computer. Sometimes I even go back and make one. =)

  18. dezertsuz

    Oh, and my first thought at seeing the first book was that it reminded me of my grandmother. Her dad ran a store and her recipes were pasted or written in old store ledgers, so I’ve spent some hours reading strange things they sold and the prices of them. =)

  19. Carole,

    Just as you do, I love cook books and collecting recipes. I also have more binders that you do because I sort out main recipes such as entrees, cookies, canning and freezing recipes, cakes, other desserts and a few more. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great way to pick up binders inexpensively.

    For the recipes within each binder I maintain a computerized list. If there are categories within a binder, I sort that out and alphabetize everying including the page number I assign to the recipe. This sounds like a lot of work, but once it is set up, it is easy to maintain. The recipe listing goes into the front of the binder. I don’t reprint the list everytime I add a recipe, but I do reprint occasionally to keep the list updated.

    This method saves a lot hassle when looking up a recipe. As much as I love to browse through the recipes, I don’t always have the time to do that and sometimes just need a recipe RIGHT NOW. This method helps that process along.


Comments are closed.