cThe last things you need to organize—and this will take some time—are your recipes and cookbooks. Although I would bet many of you have quite a cookbook collection and are maybe even considering purchasing a few more, having cookbooks does not mean you will be efficient cooks with many healthy meal ideas. If only it were that simple. Instead, just the opposite often occurs because people either become overwhelmed with their collection or spend valuable time looking through cookbooks but are somehow unable to make the connection between the cookbook and the dinner table.
What my husband and I started doing years ago, because he wanted a list of tried-and-true recipe she could pass on to colleagues or patients, was to keep files of practical recipes we wanted to try that I organized by categories, such as main dish beans, main dish pasta, main dish other, vegetables, salads, breads, and holiday. When we wanted to try a new recipe, one of us would pull it from the file or look one up in a cookbook and prepare it.
If we loved it and it was easy to prepare, I would type it into a word-processing program, noting modifications, meal serving suggestions, and the original source. If we thought it was just OK or did not really enjoy it, we tossed it into the recycling bin. If we loved it but found it too tedious, it went back into the file drawer in a folder labeled special occasion. Over the years we have developed our collection of easy-to-prepare preferred recipes. Although we keep adding to the file, I print it out periodically and stick the pages in plastic protectors that we keep in a stainless steel file holder right in the work area.
And the word-processed files are easy to email to my mother in-law and interested friends (in a way silently recruiting them into the vegetarian world). Although I occasionally consult my favorite cookbooks, it is typically only to look up a standard recipe like cornbread or bran muffins, or to seek out a new recipe idea. I have also narrowed my collection tremendously and only keep the cookbooks that have recipes we love. After a while you begin to notice that there are some cookbooks you always reach for and others that collect dust.
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