Hard Copy or Electronic: Which Recipe Method Is Better?

Almost every night I ask myself the same question: Should I print this recipe out or look at it on my iPad? I might be fighting the future, but at least for right now, I’m taking the old-fashioned route. It’s hard copies for me.

I subscribe to a number of food magazines; I also read a number of food blogs. I look up recipes in my cookbooks; I also look up recipes on Epicurious.

In the five months since I’ve had my iPad, I’ve used it on a regular basis. There are a few downsides: You might get the screen dirty with your grubby greasy fingers; you have to turn it back on if it has been dormant for a while; and it’s hard to get the entire recipe on the screen at one time.

The thing that has frustrated me the most, however, is there isn’t a natural, easy-to-use library. I save recipes I like and might want to use in the future to Instapaper, but Instapaper doesn’t format recipes well and they are hard to read. I also find myself jumping between Instapaper and my Epicurious app trying to locate recipes I remember liking and saving.

Over the holidays I did an electronic vs. hard copy test. To prepare the Thanksgiving meal, I only used my iPad. I found myself working slower than I would have liked. I was paranoid about spills, and in general just didn’t feel like a working kitchen was the place of an electronic device. (Yes, I’ve heard of the Chef Sleeve. I haven’t tested it yet, but I was reticent to spend another $20.)

For Christmas, I printed out every single recipe beforehand. It felt comforting knowing I could just grab the recipes when I needed them. They were easier to share and pass around, and easier to read. I know I was more calm during the cooking rush.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I prefer the old-fashioned print-it-out system. I’m sure that will change in the future, but for now, I’m staying old-school.

Now, the key question: How do you organize and store all the recipes you clip and print out?

Answer: I have a binder. Actually, I have two binders – one for cooking, and one for baking. I have saved a ton of bread and dessert recipes, so I needed to break those off into a separate binder.

The categories in my cooking binder: Appetizers, soups, salad/veg, pasta, seafood, chicken (I should really change that to poultry), lamb, pork, beef and holidays (for season-specific foods).

Here’s my system: When I see a new recipe I want to try, I print it out and transfer it to the front of the binder. I’ll clip recipes from magazines and put them in the binder, too, so I don’t accumulate pounds of magazines on my shelves. Then, when I’m looking for inspiration, I’m reminded of recipes I want to test. Once I’ve cooked with it and like it, I file the recipe in its designated section. I try to clean out my binders every year so they don’t get overly stuffed.

My one exception to the magazine recipe rule is regarding Cook’s Illustrated. CI is a fantastic magazine with great recipes. Unfortunately, it costs extra to subscribe to their website. I wanted a way to remember recipes I saw and liked. I also didn’t want to tear up the magazine – I wanted to build a library that I could reference in the future. Instead I placed a lined sheet of paper at the front of each section in my binder. When I see an enticing new chicken, pork or bread recipe, I simply write down the recipe name, page number and issue number. I cook much more frequently from CI recipes now that I have this system.

Before I used binders to organize my recipes I had everything stuffed in a giant accordion folder. It was a lot of work to sort and organize everything, but I was so much happier once I had all the recipes  stored cleanly away. I save countless minutes by not having to go digging for recipes, and its easier to remember new favorites that I want to make again.

  • Anonymous

    For your iPad, why not use a program that can take a picture of a recipe from the magazine and store it as a PDF. You could then organize ALL your recipes, no matter where they came from on the iPad. Also, if you have the resources to get an inkjet printer that prints wirelessly, you could just print your recipes for when you cook after you’ve chosen them from your iPad and recycle the pages afterward. No muss to your iPad, everything stays organized.

  • nancy

    I subscribe to multiple cooking websites using Google Reader.  I add tags to the recipes, which makes finding them later a breeze.  When it comes to cooking the recipe, I either print it out and recycle the paper later, or put my laptop on the counter.  For recipes I make frequently, I put the paper printout in a binder.

  • http://www.sacthriftblog.com/ Torey

    I love my recipe binder. My No. 1 tip is using plastic sleeves/sheet protectors for each printed recipe — that way spills and stains during cooking don’t mar your hard copy! I also try to note on the paper each time I used the recipe and what suggestions or changes I have for next time. 

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      Indeed! Having a hard copy makes it so much easier to jot down notes, not to mention halving or doubling a recipe.

  • http://www.sacthriftblog.com/ Torey

    I love my recipe binder. My No. 1 tip is using plastic sleeves/sheet protectors for each printed recipe — that way spills and stains during cooking don’t mar your hard copy! I also try to note on the paper each time I used the recipe and what suggestions or changes I have for next time. 

Powered by WordPress | Deadline Theme : An AWESEM design