This is the second post in a series on creating and using “recipe binders” to organise your collection of recipes. In case you missed it, here is part one where we sorted and organised your collection of “tried and true” recipes.
You should have collected all the recipes you have been wanting to try, but have never prepared.
A 2 or 3 hole binder (as before)
1-2 packs of wide tab dividers
Sheet / page protectors
For this collection of recipes it is a little harder at first, but the effort will be worth it in the end – trust me! It is time for tough love.
1. Go through all the clippings, cookbook pages tabbed, etc and ask yourself several questions to really weed through these.
Does this recipe fit into my lifestyle?
If you have limited time for cooking, do not pick recipes that have 20 steps and/or loads of prep time. If you really love the idea of a few recipes like that add them to an extra section for weekends or special occasions, but do not let this section get bigger than 5 recipes at a time. If you notice you want to add beyond that point but have yet to try the 5 previous recipes be ruthless again – take action and put a dish on your meal plan or let it go!
If you are on a limited budget avoid saving recipes that include ingredients you never use that are costly or hard to find. Some dishes can be made to fit into your budget by substituting ingredients used, but only do so if you know exactly what you will substitute (ex: instead of buttermilk I use milk + lemon juice rather than wasting the rest of the buttermilk or being forced to find another relevant recipe to make that week). If a recipe calls for 3 strands of saffron or an expensive seafood type I make a mental note to keep an eye out at restaurants to try something similar.
If you are a beginner cook, with no plans to become a gourmet, avoid recipes with complicated techniques or requiring specialty appliances and devices.
Do I already have a similar recipe in my files?
I once had 4 types of cannelloni in my “to try” files and had still never tried one. I had to accept that I liked the dish, but could never be bothered stuffing the tubes so let that whole idea go. When I culled my recipes I realised I had 3 different banana bread recipes and looked through them and picked the one that suited my family best (lots of bananas and minimal added sugar).
Why have I never cooked this before?
This is especially helpful for those recipes you know you have been hoarding for a long time. Something is stopping you from adding it to your plans. Does it represent a life you wish you had, but know you can’t afford? Have you clipped it because you know it will appeal to your partner or family, but you just don’t like the dish for yourself? Are you intimidated by an ingredient or process? For the last one think about Googling the issue and seeing if it is easier than you thought. If you can figure out what holds you back you can then choose to remove roadblocks or accept yourself and situation (and learn to stop forcing yourself in that direction).
Just asking these questions the first time I created my binders led to half the recipes hitting the recycling bin. It may be nice to eat a certain elaborate dish, but too difficult to master in your house. Keep an eye out in restaurants for similar dishes to try there. With two kids at home and a busy lifestyle, I had to accept that some recipes I served previously at dinner parties would not fit in with this stage of life. We do more BBQs now and I can always look through my cookbooks or online when I want to try a one-off recipe. The point of this decluttering and recipe binder creation is to make your home life simplified!
2. Divide recipes by category again – you can simply follow the same categories you are using in your tried and true binder and/or shift the focus here to areas you want to build on (ie you bought a slow cooker and want to build up that area so are collecting new recipes here)
3. Label your dividers with your categories
4. Place all recipes in sheet protectors and file in their sections
5. Type up a master list of all your recipes by category
So, how did you go? Did you get real and were you ruthless – how many recipes did you toss in the recycling bin?
In part three I will discuss how to use your “to try” binder to spice up your meal plans (I couldn’t resist). Having organised recipes is only half the battle, now you want to use them!
Find your simple,