How To Actually Use Your Recipe Collection

I love collecting recipes. I have loads of cookbooks, and a bunch of handwritten notebooks, index cards and printed recipes. I also have an Evernote collection and a Pinterest collection. Let’s just say that my Recipe Collection is fairly extensive.

I realised some time ago though, that I needed a way to be able to actually cook these recipes. Depsite this awesome collection – we still seemed to eat the same basic menu each week. It was rare that we ate something new.

Back in my single days or when it was just Brendon and I – I often made a meal by cooking straight from a brand new recipe.

Now, with a toddler, this isn’t exactly possible very often. I mean, sometimes its just hard to make a sandwich, let alone read a recipe and cook dinner at the same time!

Do you have a large recipe collection? The Empowered Cook shares two key strategies to help you actually use the recipes in your collection.

So I have a couple of strategies that I use now.

#1 – Have a Recipe Collection System

Like I said at the beginning, I have recipes in many different locations – both hard and soft copy, handwritten, printed and electronic.

I also have my meal plans, and my Family Favourite list.

I like to keep all of these in the one place. I have a tall bookshelf near the kitchen which houses all my cookbooks. I also have a little index card holder which also keeps all my handwritten recipes.

In this same bookcase, I keep my Recipe folder. In this folder I have a few sections:

Meal Plans

This includes both previous ones and blank templates. I keep my old Meal Plans for a few reasons. First, these are great inspiration. I can flick through these and find some meal ideas very quickly. Second, sometimes I will just recycle a complete Meal Plan and use it again. We tend to eat the same meals regularly – with just a few difference options swapped in – so this works well for us.

Recipes to Try 

This is where I keep a list of Recipes that I’d like to try, as well as any printed recipes that are outside of a cookbook. This makes it easy to keep track of my ideas – and it also makes it easy when meal planning for the week. On my Recipes to Try list, I can include the website reference or a note that it is in Pinterest or Evernote for example. This makes it easier to search for the recipe when it is time to cook it.

Family Favourites

This is where I keep my Family Favourites list. I also keep another blank template in here too – so that I can quickly jot anything new down. Any printed recipes for our family favourites are included here too. Most Family Favourites I can cook by heart, without a recipe, but there are some that are only ‘new’ favourites – so I will still need the recipe for a little while longer. And plus, some will only be a Family Favourite for a season, or for a short time. So I need the recipe because I don’t cook it that often.

Recipes

The last section is just a general section for other printed recipes. I tend to also split this into categories: dinner, snacks, sweets. But you can just keep them all together if you like.

Now, a system is only a good system if it actually works.

So, let’s move on to my second strategy.

#2 – Include One New Recipe into your Meal Planning Cycle

For me – this means I include a new recipe once a week. I try and do this every week, but sometimes our life gets in the way and we might skip a week. But my goal is that each week, we will try a new recipe of some sort.

I have also learnt the hard way about when to schedule these new recipes. For example, I don’t schedule them on busy weeknights. That is when we use the freezer or quick and easy dinners. I tend to schedule them for Saturday or Sunday nights. Or, if it is a cook ahead meal – I will cook it over the weekend as part of a bulk cooking session, and then I will include it through the week. Either way – I tend to get a better opportunity at some uninterrupted cooking time over the weekend, so that is what works for me.

For you – it might be through the week. It might be that on Mondays, you are home early and can spend a little time on making dinner.

Whatever your schedule, find a way to include your new recipes into your meal plan. Set yourself a goal – one a week or one a month – and then aim to meet that goal. Make a note of the goal on the top of your meal plan, so that you are reminded each time you write the menu for the week.

And that’s it. Will you put these two strategies to the test and implement them in your home? Let me know in the comments below.

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