Remember when Serena had a series on reducing your food bill by using some of her awesome/ easy recipes? Well, if you’re like me you’re building your culinary repertoire with not just those recipes, but other recipes around the interwebs, recipes from cookbooks, recipes from magazines or even just recipes that you make up. After a while, you discover that all of your recipes are stored in a million different places and you can never find the one you need. Or, you’re on vacation/ at a friend’s/ out to impress that special someone the next morning and you find that you don’t have that winning waffle recipe. If you’ve compiled your own recipe book however, you can quickly find the recipe you’re searching for or even access it remotely.

Choose Your Medium

The idea of a DIY recipe book is one I picked up from my mom. She prefers PowerPoint for aesthetics, since she prints each recipe, slips it in a plastic sleeve and organizes it in an alphabetized binder based on the course. This offers her the appeal of an eye-catching format and an appealing professional-looking consistency. Since I’m gearing up for my fourth move in two years, I stay more low-tech and go for an (also alphabetized) Word document. A printed version is too unwieldy with all the moves, and so I also keep everything together and rely on the find function to overcome any issues associated with searching through the sheer volume of recipes.

Think Long Term
There are number of paid apps that offer to help you keep track of your recipes. This can be great for convenience or ease of entry, but be sure to think long term. When I first began developing my own recipe book, I experimented with trial versions but never found any that I quite liked. It’s a good thing I didn’t stick with one of them: nearly every single one is no longer releasing updates and it’s been barely four years.

Consider The Cloud

Though long term viability is still speculative, blogs or personal websites are also great places to save recipes. Recipes can be separated into individual posts and include tags for convenience. This is especially helpful for that next morning scenario. I have a personal favorite pancake recipe that’s super simple to make and I’ve inexplicably never memorized. Fortunately, I can just use my smartphone to pull it up, meaning I’m never stuck without my favorite pancake recipe. Mozy, EverNote and DropBox are all good options. If you’re using a website or blog, posts can also be commented on with notes which brings me to….

Add Your Own Input
As a vegetarian, I’m often making substitutions to recipes. But even if you aren’t a vegetarian, no recipe is perfect the first time. My parent’s philosophy on cooking was that you had to make a recipe several times to get it right. Compiling a DIY recipe book gives you one place to store all of your edits and changes. For instance, is the crust the best part of that blueberry buckle and should be doubled every time? Include a note to double the crust. Or how about a note that says if you buy farm-fresh berries you don’t need to add sugar? All of these things you learn by experience when making the recipe. Writing it down in one place ensures you won’t forget next time.

Adding Recipes
If you’re like me, you get your recipes from a huge number of places, be they newspapers, magazines, websites, cookbooks, the list goes on….Most often if the recipes you find are in newspapers or magazines you can find an online copy. Then, simply copy and paste (and format if you like aesthetics). Even book recipes can often be found online. Otherwise, take a few minutes to type it up. I’ve found that out of massive cookbooks, I often like only a handful of the recipes. The bonus is that I’ll then have them in a place I’m looking when thinking of ideas for my next meal, rather than forgetting about opening the book buried in the corner.

Digitizing your recipe library is also helpful for when friends ask for the recipe. I have often emailed recipes to friends after they enjoy a meal I prepared. They can also make thoughtful gifts. My aunt one year compiled for my young cousin, who is an aspiring chef, a collection of the family’s favorite recipes. We were each asked to come up with a few of our favorites that would then be made into a larger book. It was a brilliant and thoughtful idea, especially since food is so deeply associated with memories and connections. And, of course, you’ll also be saving money by not buying cookbooks (if you’re only using one or two recipes, just borrow the book from the library), by cooking at home and by making use of what’s already in your pantry.

Do you have any favorite recipes or recipe compiling tips to share? Leave a message in the comment box.