The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Organization! Recipes all over and they change!

clazar123's picture

Organization! Recipes all over and they change!

Even with digital storage, I have a hard time organizing my recipes. I have recipes in development,recipes that are favorites but sometimes I make them this way and sometimes that way. I have recipes I really think I want to try (I have gotten much pickier over the years but there is a backlog). I have Mom's recipes,Grandmas and even great grandma's and distant relatives. I have enough for a bankers storage box (or a ream of paper box). This is NOT including cookbooks. That is a LOT of recipes. I used to have 2 3x5 file boxes-meals and baking. I am WAY beyond that.

So what are some of the best ideas YOU use to organize recipes. It can be digital,software, file headers,boxes,clips-anything that works well for you.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I process and store recipes (I want to use again) as:

  • For SHOPPING part of the recipe, (a) I group the ingredients according to how I usually find them in the market (all dairy together, all fruit/veg together, etc.) and (b) according to the quantities they're usually sold in (i.e. I don't put 2 tablespoons of butter on my list because I can't buy 2 tablespoons. I have to buy 1 pound, so I put 1 pound).
  • For MISE EN PLACE part of the recipe, (a) I organize the prep from hardest (the prep I don't like to do first) to easiest and (b) make absolutely sure that every quantity is in grams (with a note if it's easier to measure 1 tsp, 2 eggs, etc.). When doing the prep, I want it to be a machine-like process, 10 g this, 200 g that; no questioning myself or doing on-the-fly conversion). [I sometimes add 2x, 4x quantities in case I want to make a bigger quantity in the future).
  • For the DIRECTIONS part of the recipe, (a) I group ingredients as they are to be used, (b) add a verb + time (saute:5 minutes; autolyse:20 min) for that group of ingredients. I never have to look back at the recipe once I'm organized this way, so I can crank through a number of dishes simultaneously.
Sounds anal-retentive, but I do this all of the recipes I plan to use again in the future. I know that, if I've organized a recipe this way, it'll just work. I don't have to ask myself any questions about ingredients, prep, or procedure. If I have a recipe in my collection that hasn't received "the treatment", I know to approach it with caution.


As for format, I use text files (digital ones on my computer). That way, I don't have to worry about the application or database I'm using in 2011 in Windows 7 will still work in 2014 in Window 9. I can open the text file, print it, close it, go shopping, do prep, cook, and not once have worry question any step in the entire process. The added advantage of text files is that I can search them quickly, which is helpful when I can't find that cornbread recipe buried until 3000 other text files.


Sounds like a lot of work, but it's 5-10 minutes work per recipe (with the most difficult part being the extra careful attention I put into getting the quantities converted to grams).


Oh, and I back them up in triplicate. :D
clazar123's picture

I like that! I normally do the "Shopping" list by hand when I am going to make the dish-I never thought of having the shopping list included in the recipe. I write all my recipes as you do the DIRECTIONS part.

But please expand a bit. What file names do you use for categorizing and sub-categorizing recipes -especially breads? Bread-Sweet?, Bread-Sourdough?, Recipes to try? In Development? I really think I need a laptop/netbook that I can use in the kitchen as I bake.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

My kitchen looks like a specialty food store. If I open the refrigerator, I have everything from kim chee to almond extract. I won't even mention the pantry. That's the only reason I have to include the shopping list as part of the recipe. I too often think I have something when, in fact, I don't have enough (or any).

The computer allows me to search my folder of recipes, so I don't have to be too organized with my naming scheme. I know, for example, that the cornbread recipe was something from a person name FatGuy, so I search for "FatGuy" or "cornbread" and the recipe pops up like magic.

The general structure is something like this:

  • baking.bread.something.txt
  • baking.pastry.something.txt
  • baking.general.sweet.something.txt
  • baking.general.savory.something.txt
  • baking.other.something.txt
  • entree.something.txt
  • appetizer.something.txt
  • sidedish.something.txt
  • condiment.something.txt
  • preservation.pickle.something.txt
  • preservation.jelly.something.txt
The search function searches inside the .txt file, not just the name (another plus for not using strange, encoded file formats). I could name the file cookie.monsters.secret.sauce.txt and I'd still be able to find that recipe for chocolate frosting by searching for "frosting".
highmtnpam's picture

check it out. it has some really special features.  It will double recipes, keep grocery lists, and has several different views.   I particularly like the cookink view which can be enlarged to whatever size you need inorder to cook withiout peering over the small print in recipes. It can be migrated to you iPad or friends.  Nice piece of software and lends itself tot baking.  Pam

highmtnpam's picture

Yes, that is the software.  I got mine at the Apple Store.  I think it is worth a look.  They have a web site.. I don't have the address.  Sorry, I'm not more help!  Pam