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  • Writer's pictureErica Lucas

The Ultimate Guide to Recipe Organization in a Binder

Updated: Jul 11

Recipe organization can include digital, printed, handwritten, and even our own recipes stored in our brains after making them over the years. This is the ultimate guide to organize your recipes in a binder! Make meal planning faster and easier with the Scan and Plan Method!

You may be the recipe keeper for your family, and it's time to get organized and pass it down. You want to organize your printed and handwritten (let's save Grandma's handwriting!) recipes into a binder, this blog post is for you!

To master recipe organization in a binder, gather your favorite recipes into a binder and create individual sections, each with its own Table of Contents. The Scan and Plan recipe organization system helps you quickly plan your meals using your organized recipe binder. Scan each Table of Contents and quickly choose meals. Plan your weekly meals easily! 

recipe binder
The Beef Section in my Recipe Binder!

NOTE: I am pleased to offer "The Ultimate Guide to Organize Your Recipes in a Binder" blog post featuring the Scan and Plan Recipe Binder Kit. This recipe organization is not a method for organizing digital recipes. Still, you can transfer recipes from note-taking apps or a recipe organizer app to a printed version for storage (or to hand down so kids someday).

Having recipes in multiple places takes a little time to sort through when meal planning. Using a Table of Contents at the front of every section has proven to be the best way for me to stay organized and meal plan quickly. I've used this system for 10 years now, and I'm happy to share this recipe organization idea with you!

recipe binder
Add new recipes the Table of Contents over time!

You can create your section Table of Contents and Index Pages using blank paper. If you'd like to use a pretty printable, visit my Etsy shop for the Scan and Plan Recipe Binder System shown in this blog post. 

Materials Needed for Recipe Organization

  • Binder(s)

  • Binder pocket for trying different recipes

  • Dividers or sticky tabs

  • Recipes (index cards, printed, handwritten, etc.)

  • Table of contents for each section (you could use a blank piece of paper or the pages from the Scan and Plan Recipe Binder Kit)

  • optional: sheet protectors

  • optional: Scan and Plan recipe binder system or blank pages

Here are a few supplies to get you started:

recipe binder kit

Shop Supplies:

Notes and Considerations about Materials

Binder Size: Choosing a suitable binder includes considering the weight of the binder with the recipes inside, where you will be storing it in your home, and if you need more than one binder to get organized. 

Sheet protectors (plastic sleeves) can protect papers from food stains and spills. These protective sleeves are an option when organizing; you can use hole-punched paper instead. If you opt for the sheet protectors, decide if you want the binder divider tabs to stick out past the protectors (then you can easily see your sections). 

You could use binder dividers or sticky notes to create sections in your binder. Some additional supplies include pens and sticky notes. 

recipe binder

What categories should be included in a recipe binder?

Before you gather materials, here is a list of categories to organize your recipes into sections:

  • breakfast

  • appetizer

  • chicken

  • turkey

  • poultry

  • pork 

  • sausage

  • beef

  • vegan

  • vegetarian

  • one sheet pan

  • one pot meals

  • seafood

  • casserole

  • international

  • slow cooker

  • soup and stew

  • salad

  • side dish

  • main dish

  • bread

  • brunch

  • dessert

  • family favorites

  • beverages

  • miscellaneous

  • grilling

  • snacks

  • sauces

  • holiday

  • Thanksgiving

How to Build Your Recipe Binder

  1. Gather your binder, dividers, recipe piles, Table of Contents sheets, cherished family recipes, and entire printed recipe collection.

  2. Brainstorm your categories (holiday, protein, dessert, etc.). 

  3. Sort and prepare recipes into piles.

  4. Use a page protector for a simple way to protect a recipe from food mess.

  5. Prepare your binder by adding a spine sheet, cover sheet, pocket for recipes to try, and dividers.

  6. Rewrite recipes as needed (use recipe cards in the Scan and Plan system). 

  7. Organize with dividers or sticky tabs. 

  8. Create a Table of Contents for every section of your binder. The Scan and Plan system includes a second page for your Table of Contents, which allows you to list up to 25 recipes!

  9. Create index pages (for example: family favorites, busy night dinners, car dinners, kid favorites, etc.)

  10. Meal plan using the Scan and Plan Recipe Binder System

How it works:

After assembling your binder, you can scan and plan your meals quickly and easily! 

SCAN individual Table of Contents to plan your weekly meals. Have chicken breasts in the freezer? Flip to your chicken section. Have a vegetarian guest coming? Flip to your Vegetarian Meals section!

PLAN your weekly meals by noting items to use up from your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the coming week. 

Are you trying a new recipe? Add it to your binder and add it to your Table of Contents. When your binder is too full, consider decluttering recipes you no longer make, increasing the size of your binder, or breaking your recipe organization into multiple binders. Using multiple binders keeps you from limiting the number of recipes you want to keep. 

Consider your recipe binder to be a recipe journal in a way. Note the dates you made a meal, who liked it, recipe ingredients you swapped (dairy-free options, for example), changes you tried, different ways you'd like to try it next time, and more. This idea of turning your recipe binder into a family recipe book of delicious recipes is an easy way to preserve family memories. 

Final consideration: Scan a digital version of your customized recipe binder to serve as a backup in the cloud... just in case. If you have tons of recipes, this may take time on your ever-growing to-do list. An identification process on your recipe sheet can help keep track of the ones you've scanned and saved (a checkbox, a note, etc.). 

Pair this Recipe Binder Kit with your meal planning process to create a weekly shopping list. You may also be interested in this Meal Planner Kit

Watch this video for a Scan and Plan Recipe Binder System tour.


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