Monday, January 14, 2013

Bright and Shiny Part 2: Streamlining Recipes

As many of you know, we use a four-day school week curriculum.  Each year our "day off" falls on a different day depending on when other activities (like PE and piano) are scheduled.  Last year it fell on a Friday.  This year it's Wednesdays.

If you know us well, you know that I guard our weekdays pretty heavily.  For us to get all the school work done (5 days work into 4) and for me to maintain a fairly organized household (and mind), we don't do extra things during the day Monday- Friday.  Not even grocery shopping or doctor's appointments (those happen on Jamey's weekdays off and in the evenings when he can help).  I even guard our day off so I have a chance to do some cleaning and work on projects like the one I'm going to tell you about.  Some moms need to get out of the house to stay sane.  I need to stay in.  Well, most of the time, anyway.

Last Wednesday morning, I tackled my recipes.  Ever since finishing the cookbook, I knew this needed to be done.  The cookbook allowed me to consolidate all our favorite recipes into one book and therefore made several cookbooks obsolete- I just wasn't using them for their other recipes.  It also meant I could cut down on my binder collection.  I had three.  The little one was just desserts.  The middle-sized one was non-dessert recipes on recipe cards and the largest was recipes that had been printed out or torn from magazines.

Speaking of magazines, I had saved many recipe-related ones from years ago when I subscribed.  They remained on my shelves because I have a little voice that tries to get me to keep things. And sometimes I listen to it.

So.  I piled cookbooks and magazines I no longer needed into a box to go to the thrift store and purged my recipe binders of all the recipes that I either now have in my cookbook or that I haven't made in years.  This was a significant downsizing and it felt so good.  I was on the fence about the Cooking Light annual cookbooks, but decided to keep them for now.

Now, as you can see, our "half hutch" (made by Jamey) looks so much less cluttered.  I now know where recipes are and that I only have one copy of each.  The bottom shelf is now reserved for gardening binders and resources.

In case you're curious, here's what I kept:

(From left to right) Four Cooking Light Annual Recipes Cookbooks (I use these often for reference when altering recipes), two preserving cookbooks, Mennonite Community Cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks (I asked for this for Christmas and haven't tried any recipes yet), Simply in Season, More-With-Less Cookbook, Extending the Table, Thy Hand Hath Provided, a family church cookbook, (down to) two binders, my canning journal, another family church cookbook, The New Food Lover's Companion (I have an older version), and several instruction pamphlets (ice cream maker, yogurt maker, dehydrator, etc.).

I love checking things off my project list.   Pin It


  1. I had the exact same cookbook "Loaves and Fishes" from when I was a kid learning to cook. :-) I too did some cookbook streamlining last year. The ones that are especially difficult for me to get rid of are ones gifted to me. I just feel bad/guilty giving them away, you know? But slowly I have started to let go of that and purge. Now the attic is a whole different story!

  2. It looks so great!! I need to do that, too...ahem.

  3. Yippeee for getting things off that list my friend! What a great feeling!! :)

    Have a wonderful week.

  4. Oh my goodness, I really need to do this, too. I have a couple of large-ish shelves devoted to my cookbook collection! And I don't use most of them very much. SO - that is on the list to do, but it is so far down the list (after things like re-organizing our filing drawer, getting the house painted, re-organizing the living room, re-organizing my sewing room, etc, etc, etc) that I am not sure if I will ever get to it! Great that you got it done! :)

  5. Paring down cookbooks is definitely not going to happen here. I often buy one as a memory of a visit or vacation. I like church and local cookbooks too. I have the MORE WITH LESS COOKBOOK too. Sometimes I even have more than one version of a cookbook. I have my mothers Better Homes cookbook from 1950something and mine form the 70's and a newer 2009 or so version.

  6. I am doing the same thing! I have a huge binder full of receipes that I printed and tucked away...some tried, others not. I am going throught them and keeping the ones that were a hit and getting rid of everything else. I am actually trying to hand write the best ones, because I love having a few of my grandmother's cards and I think one day, my grandchildren might think the same. I try to do a couple each day. Thanks for letting us peek into your day! Blessings!

  7. As we come upon another move (we're a military family - moves are frequent) I am beginning to go through the sorting and purging process yet again and this has been a good reminder to go through the cook books. I don't have a ton anyways, since I did it before the last move, but these days I use what I've copied into my recipe box and a few recipes from a few select books - for other new things I tend to just look online where there are reviews (or are trusted sources, such as your pumpkin zucchini bread I made the other day)! So hooray for another way to pass along a blessing to someone who may find *just* the recipe she's been looking for while reducing the clutter that seems to multiply between moves and takes over our lives.

  8. I need to do some folders with the recipes I print off the internet. They take up a lot of room. Plus there is no
    organization to them.

  9. I spy...4 recipe books that I have in my house! Loaves and Fishes (from when I was a kid!), More with Less, Simply in Season and Mennonite Community Cookbook. Can you tell I'm Mennonite too?! ;)

  10. I do admire your pared down collection, but the part that gets me the most is your strict time management. I'm impressed! (And I LOVE to stay home to refresh).

  11. WOW...I'm a little behind in reading your blog! but this one struck me. I've been wanting to organize my recipes for years. Now with a little one in the house, well I don't see it happening anytime soon. Thanks for the ideas though!


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