The Cook’s Book: My Recipe Binder

Not too long ago, I realized I had a shelf full of cookbooks, but I almost never cracked one open.

What do I do with all those unused cookbooks?

I decided that a nifty recipe binder would be much more useful; it would feed my need for organization, and would be one necessary step towards my goal of doing a much better job of planning meals.

So, I went through all of my cookbooks, copied down the very few recipes I would actually use, and gave the books away.

When I cleaned off my cookbook shelf, I did not give away all of my cookbooks! Some simply have too many good recipes to just copy, so it made sense to keep them. The Cake Bible is a fantastic cake-baking book, so it stayed, as did Paula Dean’s My First Cookbook; I also kept a lovely cookbook illustrated by Tasha Tudor, a few other cookbooks that are just plain pretty — and my antique cookbooks, which are simply TOO delightful to part with! They are retro, cheesy, and have wonderful illustrations.

CooksBook

My favorite is The Cook’s Book, which was published by the KC Baking Powder Company in 1911. It’s so old that there are no oven temperatures listed. Instead, it says things like, “Bake in a bread pan one hour in a rather slow oven,” or “Bake in moderate oven.” The first of the “Cooking Hints” in the book says, “Use KC Baking Powder to insure success.” I think they might be a wee bit biased!

Organize recipes in a pretty binder!

Anyway, first I organized my recipe binder with the following categories:

  1. Appetizers & Beverages
  2. Breads, Muffins, & More
  3. Salads, Soups, & Stews
  4. Breakfast & Brunch Dishes
  5. Vegetables & Side Dishes
  6. Main Dishes
  7. Cakes, Pies, Cookies, & More
  8. Slow Cooker Recipes

But I had to make it pretty! So I used a basic 3-ring binder, and trimmed some scrapbook paper to slide into the cover on the front, back, and spine. Then I copied my favorite page from The Cook’s Booka black and white drawing of a mother and daughter cooking, plus a recipe for scones and a recipe for blueberry tea cake — then enlarged the page and glued it to the paper in the front cover of the book. Perfect!

Aren’t the color illustrations in the book gorgeous?!

cookbook recipe binder

For my Table of Contents, I free-handed part of the cover design of the original cookbook, then typed and printed my list of categories, along with a cheesy quote I enjoyed:

“The recipes have been carefully selected with a view to pleasing the most exacting tastes. We are sure that all of them will be found exceptionally good, as we have aimed to give only choice recipes which will prove a welcome addition to any ordinary cookbook.” The Cook’s Book, 1911

Again, I used scrapbook papers to make it prettier. I’ll laminate it to protect it better.
CooksBook-2
I used tabbed separators to label each section, then typed and printed a title with another quote from the cookbook. Again, I used scrapbook papers embellish these pages, then glued the papers to the tabbed separator.

Most of my recipes are typed for uniformity — because I’m rather nutty that way. However, some are simply trimmed out of a magazine and glued to a piece of paper, then hole-punched to add to the appropriate section. Easy-peasy!

My binder has pockets in front and back, which is perfect for holding the recipes I plan to try but haven’t yet. They won’t make it into the book officially until we give it the okay for easy and yummy-ness. I love the freedom I feel with a recipe binder like this, because I can so easily or remove recipes.
CooksBook-1
My cast-iron cookbook holder does a fabulous job of letting us read the recipe as we go, while keeping the book out of our way. Yea!

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Comments

  1. says

    I thought I had you in my Google Reader, but I couldn’t find you this morning. I love this idea and the encouragement to work on it! I have so many great recipes from several grandparents loosely kept in manila folders and index card boxes. :) I am encouraged to go through and make them an heirloom instead of random notes. :)

  2. says

    I have a cookbook/binder too. The only thing that I do differently is to put every page in a sheet protector. It is much easier and less stressful for the times you spill ingredients or touch with sticky hands.

    My daughter has one of her own now too at her new house. :)

    Yours is lovely!

    • says

      I had it that way at first, but couldn’t find a good way to make the dividers stick out past the sheet protectors, and that annoyed me. Wonderful idea, though!

      • Tonia Spencer says

        The answer is that you have the dividers sticking out of the section normally but not out of each individual page.. If you did want the divider tabs sticking out of each individual recipe page. They do make the sticky dividers that you can put ontop of the sheet protectors on the outside of them.. They have those sticks on dividers.. Look at staples or walmart!

      • Barb says

        For the issue with the dividers: Take your sheet protectors and either slit a place for the divider tabs to come out of or cut out a bit of the area for the divider. It works great and looks neat.

  3. says

    Jamie,

    I have been wanting to create a notebook like this, too. Carey had one when I visited her in Florida and she had all of her favorite recipes on her computer so if someone asked for one, she could easily e-mail it to them.

  4. says

    Very sweet idea. I have tons of recipes in card files, notebooks, as well as cook books. This is an excellent way to get organized and actually be able to find the recipe I want.

  5. says

    I love how pretty this is! My mom has a recipe binder from when we were kids. She prettied it up by using contact paper around the outside. I guess scrapbooking paper wasn’t available then. I love that if I need any recipe from her there is one go-to spot. Now I just need to make my own. someday…

  6. mary says

    I’ve used a cookbook/binder for years, as has my mother. It’s the most effecient system I’ve come across and I’ve been able to purge many of my cookbooks.
    Last Mother’s Day, I printed up my families’ most requested dishes and presented each of my sons with their own cookbook/binders. I am happy to see that they use them quite frequently and have started expanding their binders with new favorites. The tradition lives on! .

  7. says

    It looks lovely! We have a family cookbook where we collect the recipes that really “wow” us. It’s not as cute as yours, but it is full of memories as well as yummy food. :) When I type up each recipe, I include a note at the bottom that captures memories of the first time we had the dish. I think these cookbooks are wonderful treasures for families to pass along! ~K

  8. says

    Found your blog through the Charlotte Mason carnival. :)

    I love this post, and I’m looking forward to making my own binder. I’m a cookbook-aholic and do have way too many. Your binder is absolutely lovely, just a treat to look at, which is a huge plus for me.

  9. Homequeen says

    What a pretty binder! I would love to make something like this for all my own recipes. You should post some printables like yours. I am useless at crafts and most things practical, but I do love and can cook and bake.
    I had a wee problem in finding the recipe for the Pound Cake posted today, and somehow or other I ended up at this post!
    Love your Blog!

  10. says

    I don’t know how I missed this post but I am glad I found it now. I have a spiral notebook that I take recipes in but it is not as fun and personal as this. I recently gave away the cookbooks that had dust on their spines. I have my favorites and of course, my notebook. I am going to create a family keepsake like yours for all our favorite recipes to live and get rid of my ugly notebook! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  11. says

    That is such a great idea! I have a few cookbooks just like that – I only use them for one or two recipes. It would make so much more sense (not to mention space) to put them in a binder. I love how cute yours is!

  12. lisa says

    I did a similar type of binder awhile back, but I used page protectors to slide my recipes into. This way I don’t have the expense of laminating them. I also mark on my recipes which ones are good, excellent, or a family member’s favorite.

  13. Ally says

    I’ve been sitting on this idea for months now. With 2 children and another on the way I thought I’d make up folders for them too and we can take pics of them making the food to make it that little more special to them.

    As for dividers, you can get dividers (by Avery & I believe Marbig also have them) which are designed to extend wider than sheet protectors. I believe they’re referred to as extra wide dividers. Here in Australia, Officeworks range them from around $2.80 for 5-tab cardboard dividers. For extra longevity I would recommend covering them with adhesive book covering/contact.

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