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  • Writer's pictureErica Lucas

3 FAST Steps to Organize Recipes into a Binder

Updated: Jul 10

Are you ready to organize all those recipes in your home? Collect those printed recipes, digital recipes you want to print, Pinterest board saves, recipes torn from magazines and cookbooks, and the tried and true goodies you want to keep track of in your kitchen. Then, try these three fast steps to organize recipes in a binder.

Happy organizing!

the beef section of my recipe binder
the beef section of my recipe binder

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You can organize recipes in page protectors in a binder, on index cards in a small recipe box, in files on a recipe app, in a pile of handwritten notes, or in folders for a digital recipe collection.

Whether your method of organizing recipes is physical or digital, the best way is the system that makes it easiest for you to cook, meal plan, and stay organized. A recipe binder is an easy way for me to accomplish this.

Why should you organize recipes?

  • easy access to all your favorite recipes

  • helps you stay within your grocery budget

  • takes out the stress of last minute meal prep

  • helps you take advantage of grocery sales

  • ensures a variety of foods

  • improves the chances of eating healthy

  • reduces time spent shopping

recipes in binders
There's something special about a handwritten family recipe.




Materials you will need to create your recipe binder

  • Binder

  • Section dividers

  • Sheet protectors

  • Recipes

  • Table of Contents for each section


Recipe Organization Prep

Gather your materials. If you do not have a recipe binder yet, read this blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Recipe Organization in a Binder.

recipe binder organization

Sort recipes by main ingredient or category (chicken, sausage, or maybe brunch, breakfast, desserts). Create as many different categories as you need, including holiday, Thanksgiving, and more.

Create a pile of recipes you have not tried yet, but wish to work into your binder.

Set a baseline for inclusion. For example, for a recipe to make it into my binder:

  • We must have tried the recipe at least once. Only the tried and true recipes make it into my binder.

  • At least 3 family members must like it and would eat it again.

  • It’s a generational, family recipe handed down to me.

Now that you have your organized piles, you are ready to organize your binder!

Recipe Binder Organization
What is your baseline for inclusion?


Step 1: Decide which recipes to keep.

With this hack, you can use this style of “reverse decluttering” to help you identify which recipes are your favorites and the ones you actually make.

  • Declutter the recipes you do not use.

  • Trim down your “new recipe try pile.”

  • Apply your inclusion baseline to the stacks of recipes. Setting boundaries is important when it comes to stuff. Recipes are stuff.

  • Use your binder as the limit.

  • Be ruthless and be honest.

Now that you have trimmed down your recipe stacks, you are ready for Step 2!

recipe organization
Do you keep a master list of recipes you like from cookbooks?

Step 2: Add a Table of Contents for every section.

  • Grab a plain sheet of paper and hand write the recipe titles for each section onto one page. This will be your Table of Contents for that section.

  • Put recipes in sheet protectors so food doesn’t get on them. You can even find sheet protectors that fit recipe cards so they don’t move around.

  • Assemble your binder with the section cover pages/table of contents.

BONUS IDEA! I have two lists in clear sleeve plastic protectors in the front of my binder: one for favorite kid lunches and one for favorite family dinners. I'm working on a third master index list of the recipes from cookbooks that we like so I don't have to flip through cookbooks for ideas.

You can find these index pages, printable table of contents, and more in the the Scan and Plan Recipe Binder Kit!

Now that your binder is organized by sections, you are ready for Step 3 for the finishing touches!

Step 3: Make a new section or use a pocket in the front for new recipes TO TRY.

This final step points to the need to set an inclusion baseline... my binder would be STUFFED if I included every recipe I want to try, that I've actually made, and the ones we actually end up liking over time.

I often print recipe pages from my favorite chefs to try at a future time. But my inclusion baseline sets a boundary. It must be a tried and true recipe that at least 3 members of my family enjoyed. Until I’ve tried the new recipe, it sits in the front pocket of my binder.


The best recipe organization system is the one that you use effectively and efficiently. Whether you use a binder, box, online, or stack of favorites, the best ways to organize recipes is the one that makes your life easier. Happy organizing!



How can I meal plan using a recipe binder?

  • Keep a “use up” bin in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.

  • Start meal plans with recipes that include your use up bins first. 

  • Plan recipes for ingredients you have.

  • Create a shopping list with crossover recipes (carrots for two meals that week).

  • Review your master lists in the front of your recipe binder... favorite dinners, favorite kids meals, favorites from cookbooks in your cabinet, etc.

  • SCAN your section table of contents and PLAN your meals! Meal planning for the win! The section table of contents create quick access for faster meal planning.

What if I have too many recipes to fit into a binder?

  • Separate your recipe categories differently. Maybe your Thanksgiving or Holiday recipes could go into a separate binder and stored until that time of year.

  • Declutter your collection. Easier said than done, of course, but consider your inclusion baseline and set binder boundaries.

  • Get a bigger binder or a second binder.

  • Create a separate recipe journal for the family favorites.

  • Try reprinting recipes without the photo of your recipe. That can add up to 1/2 page from some recipe websites.

Why should I use a sheet protector?

It can be difficult to prevent spills and stains from reaching your printed recipe while you are cooking. A sheet protector will act as a barrier, and make it easier to put back into your binder when you are finished (and save you from reprinting!) I do not typically pull the sleeves out of the binder, and just prop up the binder to cook hands-free.



recipe binder organization

1 Comment

Nov 24, 2022

Erica I am so grateful to you and all of your videos. You Keep reminding me that all is going to be ok. That perfection is fleeting and home and family is much more important. I wantto thank you for a lot of great hints. I actually went thru a move in October. Yes we finally moved from Pittsburg to Harrisburg PA. The move I thought would never happen finally is a reality. So as I unpacked I realized that yes some of the things we brought with us were no longer useful in our lives so kept a box for giving and a trash bag as I unpacked ...worked like a charm a local thrift store wa…

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