Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

January 17, 2013

Software, filing systems help cooks organize

Dorothy Cain decided she wanted to organize her recipes into one place, preferably into a searchable computer database designed specifically for recipes, but she had yet to find the right one and was looking for help.

"I have lots of favorite recipes that I'd like to enter into a database," said the Traverse City cook. "I have a recipe notebook, but that's getting unwieldy."

She also wanted software that would allow her to search her collection by ingredient.

So with a little digging, we found some software programs designed to streamline your vast and various recipe collection into one place by sorting recipes, adjusting serving sizes, providing nutritional information, generating shopping lists and more.

They also allow users to import their own recipes as well as from the internet, have a search-by-ingredient feature and do menu planning.

Reviews of the latest top 10 cookbook and recipe software can be found online. The Living Cookbook received the most positive feedback, followed by the Cook'n Recipe Organizer and MasterCook.

"Living Cookbook is one of the better programs I've seen," said Rebecca Walters, the Creative Living, American & Global Foods teacher at West Middle School in Traverse City. "The Cook 'n Recipe Organizer is another pretty great one."

If you don't need a database but like the idea of storing recipes on your computer, there are also a number of recipe websites that offer free recipe storage. Judy Izard uses the free virtual recipe box at the Food Network site to store and organize her favorites.

"Anything they have can be put in your box and categorized," said Izard, who owns Peppercorn, a kitchen store in downtown Traverse City. "I also store recipes on my hard drive and have other people's recipes on there as well."

Other popular recipe sites like and offer the freebie recipe box storage service, too.

The website allows users to collect recipes from other websites, newspapers or cookbooks and organize them all into one place. Users can access them from their computer, phone or tablet. Storage is free for up to 150 recipes, or $5 a year for unlimited use.

Another option for digitally storing your printed or handwritten recipe cards is to scan them into the computer and then organize them into folders, suggested Izard.

As computers and their counterparts like the tablet play a more integral role in the kitchen, manufacturers have stepped up to make it easier to use them.

"We're getting a cutting board in from Epicurean that has a slot to hold an iPad," said Kathy Baier, co-owner of Mary's Kitchen Port in Traverse City. "We'll also have a disposable sleeve that fits over your iPad from Chef Sleeve."

But even in this electronic era, many cooks still like to store their recipes the old-fashioned way — on paper.

"I don't use a lot of recipes at home," said Walters, "but I like the crafty type book for storage like a three-ring binder."

Izard is an avid cookbook collector and when she really likes something, she copies it and keeps it in a recipe file. She also carries recipe boxes and cards at Peppercorn.

"People still really like to give them away as shower gifts, but they are getting harder and harder to find from manufacturers," she said.

Mary's carries a recipe box and Baier also sends her customers to craft stores for boxes and office supply stores for index cards if they want to make their own. At the store, she said, recipes are still kept on index cards.

It's a snap to design your own recipe storage book with a three-ring binder, plastic sleeves and tab dividers. Alternatively, purchase a more elaborate binder like the CR Gibson Bon Appetit Deluxe Kitchen Binder that comes with 12 tabbed dividers, plastic pockets and sheets for holding recipes, cards, clippings and more or the Gallery Leather Recipe Organizer that holds clippings, cards, photos and printouts in plastic pockets.

To read reviews of the top 10 recipe software programs, visit Reviews of kitchen binders can be found at

Following are some of the recipes from Walters' collection at West Middle School.

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