The Best Way To Organize A Recipe Binder (with free printables)

How to organize recipes

How to organize recipes

The Best Way To Organize A Recipe Binder

(With Free Recipe Category Printables)

When it comes to organizing recipes, it’s about ease, accessibility and function. 

Well, any type of organization really, but…

If storing and organizing our recipes is too complicated, it’s not going to be maintained very easily.

Organization in all areas of our lives, has potential to save us time and helps us be more productive as we are spending our time doing, rather than spending time trying to find what we need. 

Even organizing small areas in our homes can have big impact. 

Such as organizing our recipes. 

I will admit that as much as I love organization, my recipes have been a disaster for awhile. 

Here’s a scenario that’s played out in my house a little too often lately. 

I go to find a specific recipe only to end up super frustrated when I know exactly what I want to make, but I can’t find the recipe, even though I’m certain I saw it the week before. 

Or I’m doing the meal planning for the week and I need new inspiration or a reminder of some of our favourites, but my recipes have all been shoved into a box and a few binders, and it’s a disaster.

By this point, I don’t even bother looking through our favourite recipes or recipes that I want to try. I end up going to Pinterest to find a new recipe, which I proceed to print off and add to the rest of the recipe clutter!

Yikes! It’s a vicious cycle y’all! 

Maybe I’m the only one who has this problem, but if it is somewhat out of sight (like my recipe collection) then I can ignore it…

…at least until I need a recipe. 

I’m tired of wasting time trying to find the recipes I’m looking for. By the time I finally find the recipe, I could’ve been half way done making the meal! 

Wasting time when there’s always so much to do is frustrating and discouraging, so this week I decided to tackle my paper recipe collection and get them organized. 

When it comes to recipes, there are a few issues that pop up with recipe storage and organization. 

  1.  Too many recipes

  2.  Everything is disorganized 

  3. It’s hard to find a recipe 

  4. Recipe storage solutions

All these problems can perpetuate each other.  

Too many recipes can lead to clutter, which can lead to everything being disorganized, which then makes it hard to find the recipe that’s needed. 

See the dilemma?

Now as far as the best way to store recipes? 

That depends on what type of recipes you need to organize. If they’re all online then that will be a different process than organizing paper recipes. 

Once you get the paper recipe clutter under control, how do you store the recipes? Is a recipe binder best? Or is it better to store them all digitally? 

The truth is, the best way to store your recipes, is whatever works best for you. 

When it comes to recipe storage ideas, there are two main options. 

  • You can either store everything digitally, which means little to no paper

  • Or organize all your recipes in a binder, which means paper, but in an organized matter

Personally, I do a little of both, but the majority of my recipes have been stored in a recipe box, file folder, a binder...ahem…or three. I love having a paper copy of a recipe, but that has led to craziness when I don’t keep on top of keeping it decluttered and in order. 

Having all your recipes organized will not only make things look neater, help you find the recipe you’re looking for, but it will also be such a help to planning your weekly menu. 

One of the great things with recipe organization is that it doesn’t take long and it can be done with minimal supplies and low cost. 

How To Organize Your Paper Recipes


  •   Print off the free printable recipe categories (they’re really pretty!)

  •   Binders…how ever many you think you’ll need (I found mine at the dollar store)

  •   My Avery Recipe Starter kit or Page protector sheets (the recipe starter kit from Staples includes full size pages and pages that have 2 half size slots per page)… you may need a few.

  •   Index divider tabs (if you’d like, it just makes finding the categories a little easier)

  •   Label Maker (optional)

Supplies for organizing recipes

Supplies for organizing recipes

To start, make sure you have a large, clear surface to work on. 

1.     Gather All Your Paper Recipes

 Collect anything you’ve written, printed off, pulled from a magazine, etc. 

All paper recipes

All paper recipes

Paper recipes

Paper recipes

2.     Decide On Your Recipe Categories

Recipe Binder Categories

Recipe Binder Categories

Not sure what categories to use? You can always check the printables to see how they’ve been split up. You can have as many or as few categories as you’d like. 

Here are some ideas:


Main Dishes

Side Dishes














Gluten Free

Recipes to Try

Family Favourites



3.     Declutter And Sort Recipes By Category

You can sort them as specific or as broad as you’d like. As you go through each recipe, what category comes to mind first? Choose what makes the most sense to you because that’s where you would probably look for it. 

As you’re sorting, before you place it in a category, decide if you’re going to keep that recipe or not? 

Ask yourself, have you made this item before? If you did and you liked it, then it’s worth keeping and adding to your collection of recipes. 

If you haven’t made it, ask yourself if it’s something that still interests you and if you’d actually make it? If the answers yes, then put it in a Recipes to Try pile and if not, discard it. 

Take time to go thru each recipe and place the ones you’re keeping in the corresponding category.

Make sure to also have space available for a pile that I like to call the “Recipes To Try” pile. You know the ones you print off of Pinterest or tear from a magazine planning to try someday? Those meal ideas can come in handy when you’re looking for new inspiration, but remember they can also add more paper clutter, so decide if you’d still make that recipe in the near future.

recipes sorted by categories

recipes sorted by categories

4.     Insert Categories And Recipes To Page Protector Sheets

Typically, you can add two recipes per sheet, back to back (for full size pages). There is also the option of adding 4 (half size) recipes per page protector sheet for the type that has half page pockets, which is perfect for recipe cards.

If you don’t have these pocket sheet protectors, you can always tack two recipe cards to one side of a sheet of paper, and two to the other side. 

page protector sheets for recipes

page protector sheets for recipes

5.     Assemble Recipe Binder

Once all your recipes and categories have been placed in sheet protectors, it’s time to add the categories and recipes to the binder. 

Place the cover page for each category in the front of the first recipe for that section. 

By now your recipe binder is looking great!

organized and assembled recipe binders

organized and assembled recipe binders

Organizing Recipes Books

When it comes to organizing recipe books, that can get a little tricky, especially if you love cookbooks. So again, it’s really about what works best for you. 

Rules for keeping cookbooks: 

  • Only keep what you have space for 

  • Only keep what you use (don’t keep an entire book if there are only one or two recipes you use from it).

If there’s only one or two recipes that you love in that book, make a photocopy and add it to your paper recipes or your digital collection. Give the book away to a friend who would love it, or donate it. 

 Digitally Organizing Recipes

The benefits of storing your recipes online, is that you can access them anywhere and it’s more neat and tidy. 

You have less paper piles, so less clutter, which is great. 

However, organizing your recipes online, is only beneficial to you, if you’ll actually use it.

First thing to ask yourself before you start the process is, do you like using apps?

Personally, I am not a digital recipe organizer. The farthest I go with it, is a few meal idea boards on Pinterest (if you’re looking for some new ideas, check it out here). 

I know the benefits of organizing my recipes online, but I also know myself and that I won’t use it if it’s a digital version. I need to have a recipe in hand when I’m cooking. I’m very much a paper and pen kinda gal and love having my recipes in a physical format; that way I can scribble and make notes on the page if I want. 

As far as online recipes go, if I find a recipe that interests me, I usually just print it off. If I like it, I keep it. If not, I toss it. 

If you’re the type that loves storing everything online, then this app is for you. 

I’ve heard great things about Pepperplate. It’s a free resource for storing recipes digitally. 

There are options to import recipes from many popular food sites, or to enter a recipe manually, whether it’s your own recipe or one you found on a blog site. 

You also have the option to categorize the recipes however it works best for you. 

Pepper Plate looks like a really great resource for those that prefer to organize things online and forgo any extra paper clutter. If you prefer using technology to store your recipes, then this could be a great fit for you. 

If you choose this method, then the process for organizing your online recipes is pretty much the same, minus the binder assembly. 

  • Collect Recipes

  • Decide On Categories

  • Declutter While You Sort By Category

  • Add Recipes To Categories Electronically

Regardless of what method you decide to use, or even a combination of both, your recipes and cookbooks are going to be simplified and neatly stored, not to mention organized and easy to find! 

Keep your organized recipes accessible and put them to good use.

My favourite way to use my newly organized recipes, is with meal planning. It just got a whole lot easier now that everything is simplified.

I’d love to hear how this process worked for you. What is your favourite way to organize your recipes? 

 Don’t forget to get your printable recipe categories here.

Free Printable Recipe Category Templates

Free Printable Recipe Category Templates