Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How I Organize & Declutter My Huge Cookbook Collection

My boyfriend's first comment when he saw my massive collection of cookbooks was "that is an insane number of cookbooks." I really do have tons and tons of them. I read cookbooks every day for inspiration, even if I don't always choose the recipes buried in the pages. You can find cookbooks, recipe cards, recipe printouts, and an array of cooking magazines in several languages scattered around just about every room of the house.

It is pretty safe to say that I have just a bit of a cookbook addiction. I especially love to find unique books and charity books published by small community organizations. Yard sales and thrift shops in my area are a treasure trove for used cookbooks, and with the going rate at around $1 or less per book, I have found myself dragging home more than a few.

Since I have so many cookbooks already, I go through all of them several times a year to cull out any of the books I no longer love or find useful. Ideally, the only books that remain on my shelves are the ones I use all the time or that hold a special meaning for me (such as a few I inherited from my mom's elderly aunt). The rest I go through and copy out just the recipes I either already know worked for me or that I know I want to try someday.  Then I either donate the excess books, give them away to a friend, or sell them at my own yard sale for someone else to enjoy.

When you have so many books to go through, it can be really daunting to get all of the recipes you want to save copied out.

 How I Organize & Cull My Cookbook Collection

Every so often, I pull out a cookbook I don't think I use much and read through it. I keep a stack of Post It sticky notes handy and a pen. Whenever I see a recipe I want to save, I stick a Post It at the top of the page.

Sometimes I even write the name of the recipe, but not always. It depends on whether or not I feel like it. Generally, if I find myself marking a lot of recipes in a book, I usually jot down the recipe names.


As I finish marking a book, I place it in a stack to go through later. Then I move onto the next book.

Once I have gone through enough books, I start copying out the recipes. If the book has a nice photo of the food, I might make a photocopy of it, otherwise I just enter the recipes into my Mastercook software.

Once I have copied a recipe, I move the sticky note from the top of the page and place it sticking out of the side instead. This way, if I want to give the book away to a friend, all of the good recipes are still marked, but I know at a glance that I have already copied them out. If I am planning to donate or sell the book, it is very easy to pull out all of the Post It notes, and none of the pages are left dog-eared or marked up.