Organization, It’s What’s For Dinner

Recipes are like a wardrobe. You’ve got your fat pants – the ones you wore in the past but have since made some lifestyle changes {baked goods}, comfort clothes that just make you feel good when skies are gray {homemade mac & cheese}, party clothes that come out once in awhile {appetizers}, weekend BBQ attire for hanging with family and friends on warm summer days {knock-off KFC coleslaw}… I could go on for days with this analogy. Like every wardrobe, though, you need to do some cleanup from time to time or the options become overwhelming and you end up wearing{eating} the same thing everyday.


Before starting this project I took a look at my Pinterest account and realized I had 10 different boards related to food with over 1000 pins. I was simultaneously hungry and shocked. How did this happen? There is no possible way any normal person could make that many recipes. In addition to Pinterest, I have more than 10 cookbooks and a binder full of recipes. I needed an intervention.

The first step was to narrow down the number of recipes I have on hand. If it didn’t meet the following criteria it was gone.

  1. Are there more than 10 ingredients?
  2. Is the recipe labor intensive?
  3. Does it meet my health guidelines?
  4. If I’ve actually made it, did I REALLY like it?
  5. If I have not made it, have I had the recipe for more than 2 years?

There are exceptions to these rules, but this was the basis for cleaning up the mountain of recipes I had accumulated. Exceptions included recipes for family gatherings/entertaining and desserts. Once everything was whittled down, I needed to take the next step and organize everything. My goal was to have a core group of recipes to make weekly meal planning effortless, event planning less painful and the actual cooking process more efficient. I decided to get a recipe box for the more often used recipes and keep a binder for everything else.

You guys, I agonized over what recipe box to buy. The first option I found by Rifle Paper Co. had a swoon-worthy designed metal box, but the price (around $30) and the pre-labeled dividers made it a no. The second box by Splendid Chef was also metal with a vintage flair and about half the price of the first, but I just wasn’t in love with the design.  So after pondering for longer than I would like to admit, I found a third box. This pretty Victoria and Albert Museum Recipe box was not metal and the tabs were pre-labeled, but for the price ($12.68 on Amazon) I could overlook it and re-label them myself.

pjimage (2)

So with that decision finally made I was ready to organize.

With a family of 5, I have to meal plan or else we end up eating spaghetti or take-out every night. My bank account and waistline can’t afford that lifestyle which forces me to meal plan. Every Wednesday I plan dinners for the next week and order groceries. To make the process faster, I took my newly acquired recipe box and filled it with the recipes that I make on a regular basis (about 3 weeks worth). I also included a note card in the front that lists my non-recipe meals (like tacos and turkey burgers). In addition, I added a notecard with recipe names and references to the cookbooks they are in. I didn’t want to re-create recipes that were already in print. Not only does this make it easier and faster to find the recipes I want, but it also reminds me of recipes that I have. Now on Wednesday’s I can pull out my recipes, non-recipes, and recipe references and quickly make a meal plan and grocery list!


Next up was the backlog of Pinterest recipes and other assorted papers I had strewn about. After getting rid of the excess (see my 5 criteria above), I set about organizing everything in a binder. That’s right, I printed everything from Pinterest that I wanted to keep and deleted the Pins. I’m not so old that I can’t do digital, but sometimes I need paper. Sorry trees!

After looking through the types of recipes I had, I came up with the following categories to sort them into and created some custom dividers:

  • “Feed Me Maybe” for recipes I want to try
  • “Feed Me Sometimes” for those recipes I like but just don’t include in the regular round-up
  • “Feed Me Protein” for protein balls and shakes
  • “Feed Me Salad” ~ speaks for itself
  • “Feed Me First” for appetizers
  • “Feed Me To A Crowd” includes breakfasts, main dishes and sides I make for parties, holidays and family gatherings
  • “Feed Me Sweets” for all of those yummy things you really shouldn’t eat
  • “Drink Me” for cocktails


{Click here to print your own Recipe Printable}

If you need some help finding a few great recipes, I’ve put my favorites on my Pinterest page. Happy organizing and cooking friends!


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