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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Recipe Organization – Tips and Tricks

Without a doubt, one of the most common questions I receive day after day is, “How do you do it?”  Most of the time I suppose this question is in reference to how I balance being a mom, wife, working full time, cooking for our family, and writing this blog.  It’s a very difficult question to answer because the first thing that comes to mind is always, “I just do.”  I want to do all of these things and maintain this balance in my life, so I make it happen.  Of course it helps that we have to eat every day and it just so happens that my favorite hobby aside from spending time with my kids is making something delicious in the kitchen, taking pictures of it, and eventually sharing it with all of you.  But really, I have no secret strategies.  I’m just motivated and very organized.  I plan, plan, plan and then I stick to my plan.  In the same way that I’m sure my Thanksgiving planning strategies appear neurotic to some, it actually keeps all of this manageable.

I’ve already discussed my meal planning strategies but I know some of you are interested in where I gain recipe inspiration and how I keep straight all of the things I want to try from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, etc.  Well, here – let me show you!

I don’t subscribe to a lot of food magazines but even the few I do subscribe to can quickly accumulate and take up space on our shelves.  Not to mention that it never fails, when the time comes that I actually need a recipe I had dog-earred some time ago, it is nowhere to be found.  I flip through page after page without success.  Well, no more.  I have since created this handy-dandy spreadsheet and it has made a world of difference.  Each time I read a food magazine, I go ahead and dog-ear the pages with recipes I want to try.  Then when I have a moment, I enter the recipes into the spreadsheet as you see above to include the recipe name, the year and month of the issue, and the page number.  This has made it SO much easier to find what I am looking for.  Every few months I try to go through and do a quick recycling purge of any issues I have saved that no longer contain recipes I want to try.  You might also like to add a column to include the category of dish (appetizer, entree, dessert, etc.) but I haven’t felt the need for that yet.

As you can see from the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet, I have expanded this list to include not only magazine recipes but also to catalog recipes of interest in within my ever-growing cookbook collection.  When I am planning a weekly menu or a menu for entertaining, it makes it so much easier to have this quick reference at my fingertips and not need to page through every cookbook I own for inspiration.

So, that covers cookbooks and magazines, but what about the huge number of blogs I follow?   Oh, Google Reader, how I love thee.  Google Reader is one of many available feed readers that allows you to subscribe to blogs you are interested in following.  When a blog you follow has a new post, you can tell by the bolding of that blog’s name in the list with the number of new entries listed alongside.  I have a habit of sort of saving up entries and then have a big blog reading session with my dessert after the kids are in bed.  It makes me happy.

But wait, it gets better!  Not only does Google Reader make it incredibly easy to keep tabs on multiple blogs, you can star the posts you are interested in.  In my case, I star recipes I either want to try or sometimes just as inspiration for my own creations.  The search function is great.  You can easily search all the blogs you follow, only starred posts, or even just the content of a specific blog.  I do still try to visit most of the blogs I read and leave them comments as often as I can to show fellow bloggers some love.

And finally, one last little tip in how I keep my life in general organized.  Another fabulous creation from the Google peeps, Google Calendar.  Reasons I love it:

1. You can create multiple (color-coded) calendars and display them one at a time or all together.
2. You can add tasks with little check boxes (seen here).  I love checking things off my lists, and this definitely helps me get everything accomplished.
3. You can access it wherever you have internet (so basically anywhere).
4. You can share the calendars with others so they can stay in the loop, and allow them editing privileges if you like.

The example seen here is my actual to-do list for this week, including lots of prep for our holiday party this weekend.  I also like to include any advance prep for our dinners later in the week so that there is less to do when I get home from work and need to get dinner on the table.  Little things done ahead of time can really make a big difference in the long run.

I hope this post has been helpful to those of you who were interested.

  • http://www.lollingabout.wordpess.com Rachel B.

    Love your idea of cataloging all the recipes you want to try in a spreadsheet. I have recipes all over the place: in cookbooks, in binders, starred in my Reader, etc. Its difficult to create a meal plan when you have so many different sources.

  • http://www.lollingabout.wordpess.com Rachel B.

    Love your idea of cataloging all the recipes you want to try in a spreadsheet. I have recipes all over the place: in cookbooks, in binders, starred in my Reader, etc. Its difficult to create a meal plan when you have so many different sources.

  • Katherine Hannes

    I love the idea of tracking recipes in Excel, I might have to try that. I use Google Calendar all the time for meal planning. Most of the recipes I use come from the internet any way. I copy them, with a link to the source, in to a calendar entry. I have a calendar category for Meal Planning. I put our dinners on the calendar on the right days, and I also do this for things I want to bake. This is especially helpful for dinners, in fact I started it because my fiancé would tell me how much he liked a meal but I would never remember to make it again. Now when he says that, I just go to my calendar and copy the event to another day in the future, so it will come up again.

    This has also been handy if I find I have forgotten or misplaced my shopping list in the store – I can quickly pull up all the meals I have planned for the week and recreate my list.

    I was using my phone to read the recipes, now I have a Kindle Fire and it’s perfect. I can set it on the counter and glance at it just like a cookbook (I can also use it for ecookbooks!).

  • Katherine Hannes

    I love the idea of tracking recipes in Excel, I might have to try that. I use Google Calendar all the time for meal planning. Most of the recipes I use come from the internet any way. I copy them, with a link to the source, in to a calendar entry. I have a calendar category for Meal Planning. I put our dinners on the calendar on the right days, and I also do this for things I want to bake. This is especially helpful for dinners, in fact I started it because my fiancé would tell me how much he liked a meal but I would never remember to make it again. Now when he says that, I just go to my calendar and copy the event to another day in the future, so it will come up again.

    This has also been handy if I find I have forgotten or misplaced my shopping list in the store – I can quickly pull up all the meals I have planned for the week and recreate my list.

    I was using my phone to read the recipes, now I have a Kindle Fire and it’s perfect. I can set it on the counter and glance at it just like a cookbook (I can also use it for ecookbooks!).

  • http://hurricanekitchen.blogspot.com Natalie

    Old way: print out every recipe or tear out the recipe from a magazine and file into a huge binder divided by soup, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, etc. Then when I plan for the entire month I choose from each section. Then when that week comes I pull those recipes.

    New way: Skim through google reader, and when I see a recipe I like I put it on pinterest. I can also add all of the cooking light magazine recipes on pinterest too! Saves paper and puts all the recipes I love in one place. When I’m cooking I pull up the recipe on my phone.

  • http://hurricanekitchen.blogspot.com Natalie

    Old way: print out every recipe or tear out the recipe from a magazine and file into a huge binder divided by soup, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, etc. Then when I plan for the entire month I choose from each section. Then when that week comes I pull those recipes.

    New way: Skim through google reader, and when I see a recipe I like I put it on pinterest. I can also add all of the cooking light magazine recipes on pinterest too! Saves paper and puts all the recipes I love in one place. When I’m cooking I pull up the recipe on my phone.

  • PostcardsMN

    I love google reader but my newest way is to “pin” interesting recipes on my pinterest.com boards – I have created there boards for different holiday recipes, meal courses, some according to the ingredients (pork, legumes, etc…). I am really visual and pinterest really really helps with this.

  • PostcardsMN

    I love google reader but my newest way is to “pin” interesting recipes on my pinterest.com boards – I have created there boards for different holiday recipes, meal courses, some according to the ingredients (pork, legumes, etc…). I am really visual and pinterest really really helps with this.

  • http://theapronarchives.com Aimee

    You know what, Annie? I still don’t know how you do it – but I am so glad you do!

  • http://theapronarchives.com Aimee

    You know what, Annie? I still don’t know how you do it – but I am so glad you do!

  • Laura Kaslow

    I organize my recipes (including those from Annie’s Eats!) on Evernote. It works great!

  • Nadine

    my level of adoration has just increased even more!!!!

  • LollysSweetTreats

    Thanks for the tips, Annie. I just set up Google Reader and I love it!

  • Margaretortigo

    WOWZA!! So organized. Just starting meal planning. These tips are GREAT!!!

  • Leighpolson

    These are great tips! And reading food blogs while eating some sort of dessert is one of my favorite things to do!

    Leigh

  • Nina Hassell

    This is genius! Very Helpful :)

  • http://melsoven.blogspot.ca/ Mel

    Thanks for this it’s allowed me to be so much more organized now! With my spread sheet I use it for keeping track of recipes I’ve found on blogs. I cateorize it by date, blog name, type of dish, and name of the dish. I even create a hyperlink to the site i found it!

  • Alyssa Talley

    What does the green highlighted row mean? Is that how you track which recipes you’ve tried? Once you’ve tried a recipe and love it (want to make it a staple meal maybe…) do you store it somewhere/somehow for your ‘family favorites’?

    This post was extremely helpful so thank you! I’ve been using Google Reader to read through subscriptions of family and friends, but I had NO IDEA I could actually star the blog posts and then go back and review later (awesome!).

    Cheers!

    Alyssa

  • annieseats

    Those were just recipes I was planning to make that particular week. If I store a recipe to keep, it just goes on my blog :) Glad this was helpful!

  • Robinlemarquand

    Great post! I never knew you could do so much with Google Reader, I’ve never actually looked to be honest. But, I’ve always struggled with organising recipes I find in blogs. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/VanShoMac shomac

    Honestly google calender saves my life. Color-coding and alarms are where it is at. One tip I have is to always input the correct time when putting calender items in whether it is a one time thing or on-going. I do this so that I know the time is ALWAYS correct. This saves me time because I don’t have to go back and check.

  • http://twitter.com/FoodStoriesBlog Food Stories

    I do something very similar … great to know I’m now the only one :-)

  • Jennifer Custer

    Annie – You and your blog turned me onto Google Reader and I can’t thank you enought!!! Finally I got my recipes organized!!! BUT….I just read that Google Reader is going away as of July 1 – sad :-( I have no idea how I will keep up with, star and tag my favorite food blog entries/recipies! Help!!

    I would really appreciate it if you would post the service that you decide to use once we no longer have Google Reader. Thanks much! Jennifer

  • annieseats

    Yes, I’ll definitely let you know. I’m still in denial and haven’t had time yet to research other options.

  • Jennifer

    I’ve also been such a big fan of Google Reader since learning of it from Annie. I’ve been trying out a couple other blog reader services, and I’m getting hooked on Feedly. It doesn’t do quite everything I love about Google Reader, but one big thing I’m really loving about Feedly is how well it shows off Annie’s gorgeous photography!

  • Lauren M

    Hi Annie,
    Which RSS feed to you recommend now? I know you used to use Google reader in the past. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    I use Feedly right now. I don’t love it, but haven’t really investigated other options that carefully.