Recipe Binders

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My recipe binders needed some attention. I looked back at Such Treasures (our family/personal blog) and saw that the last time I updated my recipe system was June 2006.

My whole system was a mess. The recipes I used every day were in the pocket at the front of a binder – and I rarely looked at the pages inside the binder. I wasn’t using most of those recipes any more.

Want to know what kind of recipes were in there? Prepare to be shocked! I couldn’t believe how many tofu recipes I had – from when we were vegan. We don’t eat tofu anymore, because we now know that soy’s high amount of phytic acid is not neutralized through acidic soaking, which works for most other seeds. There are other downsides to soy, too, including how the phytoestrogens mess with thyroid and endocrine function.

Please note: Processed, fresh, and precipitated soy foods (such as tofu) should be avoided. Fermented soy foods such as miso, tempeh or soy sauce can be part of a healthy diet; the long fermentation they undergo is the key to neutralizing the phytates and other anti-nutrients. See this article for more information on the traditional versus modern use of fermented soy foods.

Anyway, during our vegan time, I had also collected my fair share of meat-free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes. I kept some of those, but marked them for updating to using raw milk, eggs, and soaked grains. Then there were the gluten-free recipes, some of which I kept, and some of which I tossed. It took me two afternoons to go through it all.

I’d love to hear how you organize your recipes, so be sure and share in the comments! I’ll give you a peek inside my binders. The first one was pretty, with a pretty cover and spine. I set that up at a MOPS meeting in the Fall of 2001. I added a second binder probably some time after June 2006. The second one is not so pretty, but works just as well. 😉

The dividers are created by slipping a piece of white cardstock into a page protector and adhering a self-sticking index tab to the outer edge.

These are the dividers/sections I have, split up between the two binders:

  • Cheese & Cultured Foods (just added!)
  • Dips, Drinks, Appetizers and Sauces
  • Breads
  • Breakfast
  • Desserts: Cookies & Bars
  • Desserts: Cakes & Pies
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Veggies, Potatoes, Beans and Rice Dishes
  • Main Dishes
  • Seafood
  • Tips & Info – charts and miscellaneous information

Looking at my sections, I see room for improvement, and perhaps will revisit these categories another day.

As for storing recipes in these sections, that is easy. For me, most of my recipes are printed from my blog or someone else’s blog or website. I slip these printed pages in page protectors and insert them in the appropriate section.

Speaking of printing – did you know that there’s a built in print stylesheet for every post here at GNOWFGLINS? When you’re on any post, you can hit print and that post will print very cleanly – without header, footer or sidebar. Comments won’t be included, however. If you need those, copy the comment text, paste it in a text editor, and then print.

If I get a recipe from somewhere else – like the one below from the Azure Standard sale catalog – it can go in the binder, too. I put a piece of scratch paper turned backward behind it.

I’ll be encouraging eCourse members to create a similar binder for their eCourse materials, whether for recipe or information. But, it doesn’t have to be done with page protectors. Regardless of how the binder is put together, the important thing is that you want to have easy access for working with the lessons and materials on a daily basis.

Now it is your turn. How do you organize your recipes?

I’m sharing this post in Real Food Wednesday, this week hosted by Ann Marie @ Cheeseslave.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    How funny! I’ve just been updating my recipe organization in the last week. I moved my recipes from a small recipe-card sized book to a binder with slip-sheets, like yours. Amazing how many recipes I tossed – a number of which I wouldn’t remake at this point in our lives (too many processed ingredients!). And there were a lot of recipes online I’d been using but never printed, so now those are on paper in my binder. (Laptop in the kitchen = a bad idea; that was actually the impetus for my updating project.) Organization is what I’m still struggling with. I want to find a way to be roughly seasonal in my organization, as we live in an area with great local markets and fresh produce most of the year. . . . But then where do I put the dishes that aren’t really at all seasonal? (lentils, onions, and garlic – that’s year-round, really.)

    Kudos to you on your project! Didn’t you find that you came across some great new (and old) recipes? We’ve been eating better this week because of that, I think.

  2. says

    I’ve organized my recipes for the past 36 + years the old fashion way in a recipe drawer cabinet. Actually it is a old very heavy metal pull out filing drawer / desk top size that use to be in the State Employment Office my dad worked in. It’s the style I’ve always liked and will always for me. Though with the advance of the computer and recipes online and printing I do have quite a few – so I should really start a binder like yours…..Great Idea. Now just to have time!!
    .-= Pamela @ Seeds of Nutrition´s last blog post… Today is Kick Off Day! =-.

    • says

      Pamela – Your comment went to spam. :( I’m so glad I found it! You really must do what works for you. As an example, my mother-in-love has all her treasured recipes on recipe cards. One year for her Christmas gift, I got a 3 photos per page photo albums for 4×6 photos. The slots fit recipe cards perfectly. I organized all her recipes in that, creating dividers using those sticky index tabs on those pages. She still uses it (I think!).

      But you are right – today with printing off the internet, recipe cards are not a popular format.

  3. says

    Great post! This is something that I really need to schedule in on my to-do list. My recipe box still contains all our old favorites that were full of processed foods. I guess I need to either refigure or simply toss the old Mexican recipes with Velveeta and cream of chicken soup, huh? Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. says

    Rebecca -Cool! That is a great idea to be seasonal. Why don’t you create seasonal sections (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) for those recipes that are seasonal and put the others in their regular sections? Yes! I did come across some great recipes – I haven’t made them yet, but very soon, very soon… Thanks for sharing about your recipe project – I loved hearing about it!

    Janice – If those recipes were big favorites, you could update them with homemade cream base. Lori just put up a great post with a formula for cream soups.

  5. says

    I can’t wait to tell my husband that other people have recipe binders too! He thinks I’m such a nerd! I do tend to take it everywhere with me, though, so maybe that’s why he thinks it is so weird :) Mine is organized very similarly to yours. I had my girls draw pictures on my dividers (eggs for breakfast, a chicken leg for meats/main dishes, etc.) It cracks me up every time I look at their art work.

  6. says

    Morgan – Well, we are good company then! How sweet that you have your girls’ drawings on the divider pages. I have stickers and doodles on my older divider pages, but the new ones are pretty bare bones. I think my girls might like to spruce them up for me. I will ask them – thank you for the idea!

  7. says

    I type my recipe sources into an Access database (though just saving them as text files would work too). I like this because over time, if I want to correct/modify the recipe or take extra notes on it, I can type those in and print a fresh copy. And I can easily search for a keyword if I’m having trouble finding an old recipe. I have terrible handwriting, so taking notes on my printed copies would drive me crazy, they would look so sloppy.

    I keep my printed copies in a binder like you do- I think I want to move to using slim binders, one for each category of food (breads, desserts, meats etc) so that things are easy to find.

    It is fun to look back through one’s cooking phases and history, isn’t it? Oh how we change!

  8. says

    HI Wardee,
    I do the same thing! I have three binders right now – one includes meat and seafood recipes. One is for vegetarian, salad and veggie recipes. The last one is for soups, grains, breads and desserts.

    I also use page protectors. I find that without them, my recipes become ruined after a few uses in the kitchen.

    I have to say mine are out dated and a bit disorganized as well. But you’re inspiring me to go through them and take out the things that don’t appeal to me any longer.

    I also have a preliminary filing system for recipes before they make it into the final binders with the page protectors. I use manilla envelopes (3 sides closed, one side open) where I separate the recipes into different categories – fish, chicken, beef, lamb, vegetarian, breakfast, snack, bread, etc. As I’m testing recipes, this is where I store them until I know I want to keep them.

    I have been so busy but I really wish you luck with your new e-course – it really looks awesome!
    .-= Sarah Schatz – menus for limited diets´s last blog post… Gluten free Classic Drop Biscuits =-.

    • says

      Michelle – I am impressed! You have a great system. Keeping my blog, a great many of my recipes are typed, too. But I wouldn’t mind having an organized system on my computer too. That will be step two for me, as my files on the computer are still in the disarray created by various dietary changes :) I LOVE those slim binders – that would be a really sleek system of organizing printed copies.

      Sarah – Thank you for your kind wishes about the eCourse. :) I like your ideas for keeping preliminary recipes in manila envelopes. I keep recipes I’m testing in a clipboard, but that gets overrun if I don’t keep up with it. You must be pretty good about going through your envelopes? I can easily see myself moving into three binders, and perhaps very soon…

  9. says

    I don’t really organize my recipes because I usually look up for stuff only and rarely cook the same thing twice. I’m surprised to see you don’t eat tofu. You depict a really bad picture of it when it fact it’s a really healthy food. I live in Japan and the Japanese people’s diet is full of soy: tofu, soy sauce, miso, etc. Japanese people have the longest life expectancy in the world, surely, soy is not as evil as you depict it.

  10. says

    kanmuri – I’m glad you wrote. I should have been more clear in stating my opinion. I believe soy should be avoided if unfermented; miso and soy sauce are fermented and therefore not included in this.

    Tofu is a precipitated soy food. It still contains high amounts of phytic acid, but thankfully any enzyme inhibitors are mostly in the liquid drained off from the tofu. Regarding the remaining phytic acid, and according to this article at the Weston A Price Foundation:

    When precipitated soy products are consumed with meat, the mineral blocking effects of the phytates are reduced. The Japanese traditionally eat tofu as part of a mineral-rich fish broth.

    So the problem with soy is not from the way it was traditionally eaten – it is with how it is marketed and eaten in America today. Most of our soy is highly processed (TVP and such) and unfermented and that’s why it is unhealthy.

    This is true of my family’s use of it, sadly, when we were vegan. I used very little fermented soy, and almost exclusively fresh soy and processed soy foods. We certainly never ate our tofu alongside meat.

    Refer to this article for more historical use of soy in China and Japan:

    And here are a bunch of other articles on soy:
    Articles on Soy at Weston A Price Foundation

  11. says

    Thanks for the info on soy! I always thought tofu was OK because it was a traditional Asian food… I guess we’ll stick to tempeh from now on.

    I have 5 binders: 1 of main dishes from my pre-allergy days, one of non-WAP-friendly desserts/breads, one of soups and appetizers and holiday meals, one that I created when I started the allergy diet with dairy-free, wheat-free, and some egg-free recipes, and another one that is the meals we currently eat, divided into: main dishes, breakfasts, breads, desserts, meal plans. At some point I should purge the old ones.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post… Menu Plan Monday – Week of 2/1/2010 =-.

  12. says


    Binders are great when you need you only need your recipes in your kitchen. But what if you want to share them? Or access them in a grocery store or while at work? I’m helping build a site where people can organize recipes online, and access them at work, in the kitchen, or on their phone in the store.

    We’re in the early stages, and members have already added 5,000+ favorites to their lists. The mobile app has also been an Apple “Staff Pick”. Here is one example of a member’s shared recipe list:

    I’d love your thoughts on the free service. Reach us anytime at


  13. Christina Dickson says

    I love the input and ideas!

    I really like simplifying the info on recipe cards, but children-in-the-kitchen keep my recipe boxes a mess (oops, dumped the box…)!

    I have also considered putting dinner prep into a page format, because the step by step process is not obvious to me and I typically get overwhelmed, stressed out and ruin some or all of a fine meal…not to mention the joy of family dinner.

    I dunno though, by season is really great too.
    My most frequently used divider is labeled BREAKFAST.

  14. says

    Bethany – :) You probably do a better job than I at keeping on top it, though!

    Rebecca -Isn’t that interesting information? Pretty much anything you want to know can be found at I think I won’t mind serving tofu with meat occasionally. We did really like it when we ate alot of it, we just didn’t eat it traditionally.

    Michelle – If your system is working for you, no need to change it. But, how do you make notes on changes or substitutions? I can’t remember all those things in my head. I have to be able to write it down. You must have a good memory. :)

    Phil – That looks like a great resource. Thanks for sharing it!

    Christina – I love your recipe boxes. You’ve pulled out some great ones for me over the years. I wish I could browse them more. That’s a great idea for a dinner prep step by step. Do you mean a general formula or for specific dishes?

  15. says

    I just found your website and saw this post… I had to add my own ideas because I just reorganized my sad notebooks last month, too! I organized them mainly for eating in-season produce. You can view it here..

    I’m seriously considering the ecourse on cooking. I have Nourishing Traditions, but have not really delved into it much. I’ve been a bit skeptical ( I eat mainly fresh foods as close to the way as God made them as possible), BUT, I would like to learn more about these methods and give them a try. I’m more open than I was before to trying this. Especially the kefir, sourdough, and beans. These would be great to see how you do them.
    .-= Amy @ River Rock Cottage ´s last blog post… I Can Hardly Wait… =-.

    • says

      I know this post (and comment) are seriously old, but Amy, I’d love to see your binder. But I need an invite to see your blog. I’m just starting out with trying to get super organized and I’m loving this post.

      Wardee ~ you mentioned needing to update your sections ~ did you ever do that? How do you have your recipes separated out now?

      I’m kind of new at getting super organized in the kitchen, so any examples I can look at are helpful. LOL!

  16. says

    Amy – Your system is GORGEOUS! Oh, my goodness… everybody, you have to check it out. :)

    I’d be very happy for you to join the eCourse. Please let me know if you have any questions about it.

  17. Virginia says

    I keep my mother’s wooden recipe box with 5 x 8 index cards. For online recipes, I virtually “clip” them using – very quick, easier than copy/paste, and easy to edit, and you can access them online from anywhere. I print them out to try, and if I like them, a trim the extra 1/2 inch off (just plain white margin), and pop it in the recipe box.

    I’m thinking of creating a master list for each recipe section, so I can see at a glance the titles of all my egg-based recipes, for example, to make my weekly menu planning easier.

    This year I’m also using a small wall calendar on my fridge to track every day’s dinner, so I can look back and say, ok, it’s been 3 weeks since I made a quiche, so I can make that again without our being sick of it!

  18. says

    I divided my binder subject wise ,, and i used different color for every subject.It helps me in recognizing the right folder instead of wasting my time and flipping around pages.Your suggestion are very valuable though.Thanks.

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