Many years ago I purchased a blank notebook from the clearance section at Borders with the intention of keeping all of my recipes in one location. At first, this was a great way to store my small recipe collection, but over time the system has become horribly disorganized. Because it is a notebook and not a binder, the system I use to organize the recipes – savory recipes in the front and sweet recipes in the back – has become too simple to be useful as my recipe collection has grown as I can’t reorganize and resort my recipes as the collection grows. Sometimes I dread flipping through the book to find a recipe so much, that I will just use Google to find a similar recipe for the dish that I am making.
It is clearly time for me to upgrade my recipe organization solution, and I have started researching options for recipe storage. It was this past Christmas, when my friend Gill was visiting that, I first thought about getting a recipe card box. We were shopping for Christmas gifts and came across a stack of blank recipe cards that Gill started looking through because her own collection of cards was dwindling. As we continued browsing, we chatted about her recipes and storage and she sold me on investing in an recipe box. The nearly unlimited storage space (you can always get a second recipe box if you ever run out of room in your first one) and the flexibility to organize and reorganize at will were the biggest selling points for me.
Since deciding I to upgrade to a recipe box, I have been doing a lot of research. I have fallen in love with one recipe box that is a bit pricy and found many great boxes that cost much less, still look good, and would work well in most kitchens. I am holding off a bit longer on purchasing my new recipe box, but while I continue to waffle on which one will finally grace my kitchen counter, I thought I would share with you some of my top picks and hopefully make your next recipe box purchase a bit easier.
Recipe Boxes and Storage
This simple bamboo box with engraved owls is my favorite recipe box of all the ones I’ve seen. The box has clean lines, an adorable engraving that lends it some personality, and a built in card holder inside the lid for holding recipes while cooking. If the owls seem a bit too cutesy for your taste, this Etsy shop also has recipe boxes with a beautiful wine & grapes theme or a simple calla lily theme. It also comes with matching card dividers based on recipe type and recipe cards to get you started. The $65 price tag feels a bit steep for a personal purchase, but I would buy it in a heart beat for a bridal shower or a close friend who cooks. It would also make a lovely box for keepsake family recipes a mother was looking to hand-down to her children.
I am also digging these brightly colored cardboard organizers, which also come with dividers, although they are alphabetical instead of based on recipe type. They come in 12 different colors at Amazon.com for about $24, although I am partial to the plum, pink, & green. Based on the dimensions, these would hold a few more cards than most of the recipe boxes I have seen, which is great, but I would have to buy a new set of dividers.
The folks over at the Kitchn recommend this open-top recipe box. The price, $28, is great for the recipe box, recipe dividers, and 100 recipe cards, and I like the modern stylish look of the set. Its just not the box for me. First of all, I am not graceful and I don’t even want to think about how many times I might drop this box on the floor, spilling all of my carefully organized recipes. Second, recipe cards are, almost as a rule, going to start looking dog-eared and dirty after awhile (even with clear plastic covers like these) and I want to hide that mess when it starts to happen.
If you are the crafty or artistic type then you may want to buy a simple unadorned box to dress up yourself. My friend Gill, for example, has one of the most beautiful recipe boxes I’ve seen, painted for her by her father. For your project I recommend this sturdy box with a slit at the top for holding your recipe cards while you cook. The internet is full of inspiration for personalize recipe boxes, from beribboned boxes, painted boxes, and decoupaged boxes.
Recipe Cards and Dividers
Once I finally pick out my new recipe box, I’ll face the next challenge of picking out what I put inside of it. I already know that I want to go with card dividers that organize my recipes by type (appetizer, beverage, etc.). Amazon has an inexpensive set of 4×6-inch dividers with over 20 different categories. If those are too plain for you, Etsy has dozens upon dozens of
The final addition to the recipe box is, of course, the recipes. Cute, stylish recipe cards exist in a variety of styles: clean modern designs, country kitchen, and more. They can be purchased online or from specialty kitchen stores, like Hill’s Kitchen here in D.C. or they can be printed directly from your computer. I will probably end up using printable templates for my recipe box because I am a bit of a neat freak and the idea of longer recipes not fitting on the cards in my large loopy handwriting worries me. With many printable templates, I will be able to type my recipes directly onto the card and print out perfect recipe cards every time. Some of my favorite free templates include:
Of course, recipe cards may not always be necessary, as many websites let you print the recipe in index card sizes or some magazines, like Real Simple, even include tear outs perfectly sized for recipe boxes. Whatever you choose though, you will definitely want to pick up clear recipe card protectors.