Works for Me Wednesday: How to Organize Seasonal Recipes

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image You know I’d never lie to you.


I hope the title of this post doesn’t seem like trickery, since by now you know that I’m simply not organized by nature. I have a plethora of good intentions, and I often get started with a winner of a system for any given organizing endeavor, but either my procrastination, perfectionism or overcommittal gets in the way of following through successfully.

I happened upon two really good, workable (read: SIMPLE!) recipe organizing ideas in the past year, though.

Seasonal Recipes

It’s my very own decluttering, without having to throw anything away (I’m a saver, you know).

I decided to start file folders that can be stashed in my desk drawer for seasonal recipes like Christmas cookies, grilling and canning recipes, etc. I got tired of seeing things I knew didn’t fit with the season in my way when I flipped through recipes, so tossing them haphazardly in a folder until I need them is the perfect fit for me.

“Stand By” Recipe Folder

You’ll notice “haphazard” and “folder” are two words common in my organizing vocabulary.

Okay. You’re right.

They’re the only organizing words in my toolbox. *blush*

If I have to three-hole-punch it, it’s not getting done.

If I have to figure out precisely what section to put something in, it might not get done “until I have time.”  I just never seem to find extra time laying around, do you?

When I’m cooking, I hang the recipe I’m using up on a clip dangling from my cupboard. Sometimes I don’t put the recipe away at the end of the day. Sometimes I don’t put the recipes away until the clip is so full that gravity has its way with me and my recipes explode all over the kitchen floor when I open the cupboard. (Welcome to my kitchen, folks!)

I started noticing that often when I was searching for a recipe in the place it “belonged”, I couldn’t find it. It was still hanging up from the last time I used it.

I started a new manila folder for my “Old Stand Bys”. These are the recipes I make often enough that they can simply get chucked into the folder without looking for “the place” they belong in a certain category in my recipe box. They can be magazine pages, computer printouts or fancy recipe cards, and they all fit.

I can be haphazard, and still find what I’m looking for within 60 seconds.

If you cook from scratch a lot, I bet you have some OSBs too. Make a folder. You’ll appreciate the freedom to be haphazard and still be organized at the same time.

Curious What’s in There?

Here are some of my standbys:

What would you put in your “Stand By” folder? What’s your best recipe organizing tip?

*Note: Giveaway this week is a membership to and a menu planning kit!

I’m happy to enter Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family, along with Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy’s Recipes.

Photos from prettytypewriters, 427.

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

20 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Sorry, I’m no help here! I could use all the organization I can get as far as my recipes go! I do have my digital version organized pretty well, with folders for the different parts of meals. Once I print them out though, they are all in one big stack, sandwiched between my cookbooks! I like the idea of having a seasonal file though. Once I do start my organization of recipes, I will include one for seasonal foods.
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Starting the Day off Right =-.

  2. says

    I have a mess of file folders. Each folder has a name. For instance: Main, Desserts, Breads, Veggies, Grains & Beans & Rice, Beverages, etc. All the folders go in a plastic basket and are put in a nearby cupboard. When I am getting the menu set for the week I get out my basket and start pulling things out of the Main and the Grains folder and go from there. I then write the planned menu on my menu chalkboard and clip the recipes in one bunch on the fridge. My standbys, like homemade crackers, yogurt, naan, pretty much stay on a clip on the fridge. I don’t bother to take them down as they are made too frequently for me to rummage thru the folders each week.
    I think I would have to go into therapy if I tried to organize all this into seasons! This is the best I can do for now. And it’s what works for me. For now.
    .-= Cindy Young´s last blog ..This is for the birds! =-.

  3. Lora says

    This idea will improve our “recipe drawer” (home to a jumble of various cards, computer printouts, etc. ) when I can get A ROUND TUIT! Maybe next weekend?

  4. says

    I keep a written recipes journal.

    A recipes journal enhances my kitchen experience, and gives me incentive to practice healthy cooking habits. I get excited and geared-up to cook while I’m ‘interviewing’ recipes; and after I’ve made it, committing it to the pages of my recipe journal is like savoring the experience all over again.

    It takes more time to put the recipe into the journal than to stuff a clipped or printed one into a file/box, I admit. I think the effort is worth it, though!

    • Katie says

      A friend of mine always writes the “story” of a recipe on her card, and it’s neat to know the history like that. Thanks! :) Katie

  5. LindsayP says

    If you can find what you need within 60 seconds, you ARE organized. It just doesn’t look like how the typical ‘organized’ person (like my Robert) would arrange things. It’s funny, he labels things and puts them in categories and file folders and has a task list, etc, but when he needs to find something child- or household- related, whom does he ask? Me. And although I can’t use words to tell him how to find it, I can almost always “feel” where it is quickly. Congratulations on having a system that works for you! Because YOU are the one using it.

  6. says

    I have found that Evernote works best for me! I can clip recipes straight from the internet (which keeps the URL in case I want to get back there or link to it sometime later) or add recipes in by hand. i can tag them to easily find them later. I have the app on my itouch and can get all my recipes there. Evernote can work for anything, but I have found it to be my best storage/organizing solution for my recipes.
    .-= Angela Carroll´s last blog ..5 Ways to Find Simple Motivation =-.

  7. says

    What i really like is using a 3 ring binder with plastic sleeves. I don’t have to hole punch or make sure it is the “right” size. The plastic sleeves keep the recipes from getting splattered when i hang them up, & i can stick in the recipe cards, recipes cut from newspapers, or ones i’ve printed from online. I just take out the one i want, & then stick them back in later. I don’t have to worry about my cookbooks getting splattered.

    I do have 2 binders. One of stuff i use all the time (& right now i do need to organize it) & one of things that “I might try this some day” or “Gee, this sure looks good, but i don’t know.”
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..I’m so confused! =-.

  8. says

    Good idea! My recipes are mostly online, so I just place my laptop nearby and refer back to it. But I still have some loose paper recipes too. A ‘frequently made’ folder is a great idea to separate from other awesome, less frequently made recipes. Congrats on your system!
    .-= Lynn´s last blog ..Corporate Consumer Culture =-.

  9. says

    Okay…how I really do it. I can’t stand papers everywhere and I can never find the one I want. So, first, I memorize our VERY frequent favorites. I write them down, too, so I can double check if I need to.

    But really, I type up every recipe I come up with as soon as I come up with it. I type it up even if I’m not sure it’s going to work so I can remember what I did the first time and tweak it later. Then I save it on my computer in a “recipes” folder. Each new recipe is its own document. If I need it for the kitchen I can bring my laptop in (or I could before it broke), or have it up on the desktop in the next room so I can run and check ingredients quickly. Or, I can always print a copy if I really want to. They’re all in one place and paperless! I love it. :)
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Do Your Research!: Antibiotics =-.

  10. Martha says

    @Kathryn What a great idea to have a separate binder for “I need to try this someday.”

    I have recipes online, in binders and a traditional card box and stacks that I’ve printed that need to be filed. One of these days, I’ll actually do it. Pride and Prejudice and recipe filing here I come!

  11. says

    These are great tips and I’m gonna scan thru your recipes too. I’m printing a bunch today & organize them into coloured binders – pink for baking, blue for slow cooker, etc. I use page protectors and dividers within these as well. Meal planning is tough at times but soooo worth it.
    .-= Sarah @ Mum In Bloom´s last blog ..Recipe: Apple Pie & Crust Recipe =-.

  12. says

    I have a notebook, divided into seasons, where I write down the recipes I have used and where to locate them. For example I’ll open to fall/winter er and discover that I can find “Best Ever Bean Soup in the “blue binder” filed under soups. (all internet recipes are printed and kept in binders) If it is from a cookbook I write down the title of the book and the page number. I also have a section for recipes I make all year round. When I am meal planning it’s really easy just to scan the recipes and write down the ones I will use for the week. I also have a folder of recipes “to try someday.” If I try them and like them, they get filed in a binder.
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Secret Sewing – Sandcastle Quilt =-.

  13. Jill says

    I recently taped my stand by recipes inside a cabinet door. I love it!! First I typed out just the minimum information – not everything one might need the first time making the recipe – on a small piece of colored cardstock in an easy to read format and then taped it in a good spot inside the door. I have found it to be so helpful in so many ways.

  14. says

    Great ideas.
    When I grow up I hope to be left-brained but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So…
    I actually cut out and tape the recipes I need the most on the inside of my cabinets. Dc and I can find and use them easily.
    I got one of those hanging nylon folder holders that teachers use and when I print off a recipe, try it, make notes on it, etc, I stuff it in the recipe pocket. This hangs in the schoolroom which is right off the kitchen. I could probably sort into folders and keep in that pocket. Oh, there is also the stack that ends up in the kitchen under the bread basket of ‘to try’ recipes.
    I don’t recommend any of these (except taping inside the cabinet) but they work for me. :).
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Addition and Subtraction Booklets ~ Sunscreen =-.

    • Katie says

      My mom taped things in the cabinet, like cough medicine remedies, and metric conversions and stuff. I forgot about that idea – brilliant!
      :) Katie

  15. Carmen says

    I have mine organized similar to Kathryn. For full-sheet recipes (usually printed off internet), I put them in sheet protectors in a 3-ring binder. I have separate sections (soon to be separate binders) for Tried-N-True recipes and want-to-try ones.

    I don’t take them out of binder when I make a recipe or like you said, it wouldn’t never make it back.

    For recipe cards, when we got married I received as a shower gift a photo album with favorites from our families. They attached file folder labels on a few pages with different categories like “Desserts”, “Breads”, etc. The plastic pages hold the recipe cards perfectly and protect the recipes. Again, I leave them in the album – just have the “book” open when making the recipe.

  16. says

    I have several three ring binders (of course!) and one has seasonal recipes, one has meat, and one has stand by’s. My bread recipe, my tabbouleh recipe, actually that one is mostly side salads now that I think about it. I like the plastic sleeves too, but I am really bad about putting them back when I’m done.
    I’d love to have everything online – but there are about 500 other things I’d love more so I don’t spend too much time on that project :)
    .-= Jen @ BigBinder´s last blog ..Designer Imposters =-.

  17. says

    I’ve taken some of my organization ideas from ~ just search ‘recipes’ for a bunch of posts on organizing recipes. I’ve got a binder with some page protectors. I took a sharpie and wrote a category on each one and then organized all the newspaper/magazine clippings, cards, etc. I’d love to be more organized than this, so this is my ‘in the mean-time’ style. We’ll see if it ever progresses! LOL — as for old standby’s, I really need to do that. I also need to make notes of what are the standby’s. Recently I went to make bread and couldn’t remember which one I had made that I liked, there were too many that were all named similarly! :)

    • Katie says

      Good point on remembering what is what. I do always make a little note when I try a new recipe with the date and first impression (“good” “Yum!” etc.). That helps a bit.
      :) Katie

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