Recipe Wrangling


It used to be that we cooks would keep recipes together in a neat little box, plastic or wood, and have our favorites ready to go at a moment’s notice. I remember the box my mother kept handy—that, and a copy of her red-and-white checkered, spiral-bound copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.


That’s the book she used to teach me about making a real pie crust, and how to make other classic kitchen basics. She had that, and the cards.

Fast forward, ah, several years and my husband and I have a weathered plastic blue box much like the one my mother had. He’s a cook, too, had worked as a cook for years, something that was an answer to my prayer as a single woman. I used to say, “Lord, send me a man who can cook.” I also like to cook and one of my favorite things to do is finding and trying new recipes. But I digress.

We have our own recipe box, and it contains my family recipe for French meat pie and my favorite recipe for chicken and dumplings. The card for the dumpling recipe has been smudged and needs replacing, if I get around to that.

Then there’s the recipe printouts that found their way into our cabinets. You might know the ones I’m talking about. You see a recipe at a site and think, “Oh, I must cook this.” And when I do, I save the printout. If I were more organized, I’d sit down and write out a card. But why do that when it’s already printed out, and a card is so much smaller? That, and we still had two kids at home at the time with a lot going on at once. So over time, those printouts stacked up.


With the Internet and many food companies having their own websites, I also have free memberships with those, for Betty Crocker, Kraft, etc. If you sign up with them, some years you’ll get a free wall calendar with more recipes!

A couple years ago, Pinterest entered my life, and it’s one of my favorite things yet. I have a board called Foodie Finds where I pin recipes to try, along with my comments before and after the fact. I have another board called Freezer Meals. As a fiction author and news reporter AND a grandma, having something to put in the slow cooker helps with my in-and-out schedule.

Recently, though, I came to the conclusion that I have TOO. MANY. RECIPES. I was officially on overload.

How can someone who likes to cook and explore have too many of those? It was when I realized I couldn’t find that one recipe I like, sweet and spicy one pot meat meal with vegetables and fresh ginger, the one I like to add sriracha sauce to? Was it from Aarti Party? Or Or in those printouts? I knew I didn’t make a card for it. . .

That’s when I decided to start saving my recipes all in one place, on Pinterest. It’s not the same as a card or a recipe book, but it sure beats making printouts, and if I find a recipe on Kraft’s site or at Betty Crocker, I can simply pin it and be on my way.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, I should be all set this year. I didn’t even mention my favorite cookie cookbooks!

What do you do to keep your recipes straight?

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Lynette Sowell (13 Posts)

Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of more than 15 titles for Barbour Publishing, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. When she's not writing fiction, she chases down stories for her city newspaper and writes a weekly column, "My Front Porch." Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband. Fond of all things coffee and chocolate, Lynette also loves to travel, read, try new recipes, dabble in crafts, and is always up for a Texas road trip.


  1. I do the recipe box plus cook books. Lately I’ve been trying different pie recipes. I just made a wonderful frozen peanut butter pie I found in Wanda Brunstetters new Amish Friends Christmas cookbook. I thought I’d make the pie and then have my family come in to be gennie pigs and try the pie. If they like it than I’ll make it for Christmas. Couldn’t wait for the family to come in . My husband and I already sneeked a piece. Very good but we only tried a sliver and it was rich.

  2. Tricia Goyer says:

    That is such a great idea!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I use pinterest as my primary recipe box. I have a few subcategories (crockpot meals, desserts, and one for gluten/dairy free things). Then I have another board for recipes I’ve actually tried and liked! USUALLY I can find what I want.

  4. I have a recipe box plus I have saved some recipes on Pinterest and created different boards. If I have tried a recipe and didn’t like it I have a private board that I just move that recipe to so I don’t remake it or pin it again. With all those loose recipe pages I have printed out or ripped from magazines and newspapers, I created a cookbook. I purchased a pretty notebook, dividers and clear inserts. The dividers are what you would see in a normal cookbook: appetizers, salad, seafood, poultry, meat, casserole, etc. The clear inserts are for newspaper clippings that are too small to punch holes in, I just put those in the inserts. I loved how it turned it and use it all the time.

  5. Susan Bobb says:

    I have actually whittled down my collection of cookbooks by going through them and scanning the recipes I like and saving them to a flash drive. With Pinterest and other websites, I pin the ones that look good, copy and paste to a Word document and save on the flash drive. It’s an ongoing project I’ve been working on for about four years, but it has freed up a lot of space on the bookshelves.

  6. Hello I’ve got a big notewook where I write my best recipes. I also have my favorite recipes in my computer’s favorite and 1 or 2 old (but good) recipes books.
    If someone is interested, I can give you french recipes.

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