I love to bake. As a matter of fact, in the past week I’ve made peanut butter blondies, cranberry banana walnut bread and an apple crisp (served hot with vanilla ice cream…mmmm). Thank heavens I have family and friends to share my baking bounty with, otherwise my hips would be screaming. I digress…
As I was baking my cranberry banana walnut bread this morning I realized that about 75% of the baking recipes I use are pulled from only two or three of my cooking and baking books. Actually, one of those sources is my favorite baking blog: Joy the Baker. I recently purged my collection from about 20 different cookbooks down to 10. But even of those 10 books, I would say I only use about 10-15% of the recipes in them. You know how it goes, once you find one that you like, you master it and make it over and over again. Sure, I get adventurous every once in awhile but in a pinch or for the sake of surety…I’ll opt for a tried and tested recipe. Is that the case for you, too? Well then, why do we keep holding on to all those books and magazines that we’ve only used once or had the intentions of using but never did? Maybe because some of those cookbooks are sentimental hand-me-downs or gifts. Perhaps they’re simply for display and represent abundance. Or maybe most of them represent good intentions but other priorities got in the way. Whatever the case, if you’re looking at cutting back on your over abundance of things or are in need of some additional space in the kitchen that’s being occupied by unused cookbooks, here are a few tips and suggestions to help you control the cookbook clutter:
1. Assess, Sort and Purge your collection of cookbooks. Assess the space to determine how much space you are willing to dedicate to your books. Also assess what your needs are. Do you really need five or ten BBQ books? Decide on one or two and move on. You can do this by sorting your cookbooks into categories and then picking out your top two favorite books in each. Now purge the rest. Donate or sell any books you’ve never used or haven’t used in over a year. Check out how Erin Doland from the Unclutterer purged her cookbooks.
2. For magazine recipes, don’t save the whole magazine, just the recipe. It’s tempting to save all those magazines full of beautiful, scrumptious pictures but try not hoard them all. Pick one or two of the recipes you think you’ll actually use, clip the recipes and then recycle the magazine. A great way to make sure you stay in control of your magazine clutter is to clip out your recipes as soon as you get your subscription. Don’t wait till you have a year’s worth of magazines to sort and clip recipes. That’s way, way, way too much work.
3. Consolidate your stray recipes in a recipe box or binder. Personally, I prefer using a binder with page protectors for my recipes. If you’re a messy cook or baker like me, you’ll want to protect those papers from gooey, sticky fingers. Plus, since it’s in a binder it stacks up nicely with my other cookbooks rather than a box that might take up awkward space. There are some beautiful recipe binders out there…mine isn’t one of them! It simple, plain, and oh so boring…but it gets the job done.
4. Scan and save your recipes on your computer…or better yet on the “cloud” (internet). If you’ve got a laptop and wireless internet you could pull up your recipes and bring your laptop into the kitchen without having to print them out or open up a cookbook (be cautious of those sticky fingers though). You could also save your recipes in Google Docs or Evernote so that you can have access to them anywhere you have internet connection. I actually have saved quite a few of my favorite recipes on both Google Docs and Evernote and was able to pull them up on my iPhone and laptop when I was out of town. Too cool!
5. Get a digital recipe reader. This could be your one and only cookbook in your kitchen…can you imagine that! Talk about a space saver. There are a couple of different models out there, but basically these digital recipe readers can store thousands of your recipes, help you categorize them, set up a favorites list, set up multiple timers for multiple recipes, are splash resistant and can upload additional recipes with pictures. I’m seriously considering this…or getting an iPad!!!
6. Still talking digital…get a recipe app for your internet enabled mobile phone. There are tons of apps out there that not only provide you instant access to recipes, but they also can create a shopping list of ingredients for you. Wow! Can you tell yet that I’m a fan of digital technology?
7. Store your cookbooks and recipes together in one location, preferably near where you cook or bake.
8. Don’t forget the “one in one out” rule. If you buy a new cookbook, try to get rid of an old one. This rule goes for controlling any type of clutter in your home.
Hope this helps! Do you have a cookbook tip you’d like to share? Leave a comment below…we’d love to hear it!