TUTORIAL: Setting Up a Personalized Cookbook Binder

As my series of eCookbooks continues to grow, it may be time to share with you how I turn a three ring binder into a personalized cookbook, adding one recipe at a time as I find new family favorites.  

And it's not just for recipes from my eCookbooks or blog.  This system works well for a variety of recipes you want to print and save.  

Making this custom printed cookbook is as easy as filling your freezer with quick meals or your pantry with homemade blends!  Once you start the system, it's easy to maintain.  

Every simple system starts with a few key 'ingredients'.  So gather the following and put them out on your work space. 

  • A three ring binder of choice.  I suggest at least a 1 inch binder and you easily can change over to a larger one later as needed.  
    • The binder can be plain and simple (and low cost) OR...use one that has pockets on the inside to store pens / pencils and a calculator as well as a slot inside one of the covers to hold a note pad.  {I've gone with the latter so I have all of the resources I need for meal planning, creating shopping lists and converting recipe sizes at my finger tips}
  • A set of blank tabs that you can customize as you build the cookbook.  I suggest a larger set vs. a smaller set so you can easily add categories months down the road without having to hunt down matching tabs in the future.  My book currently has 6 tabs filled out and 6 more empty tabs waiting for me to use as needed.  
    • Some category suggestions include:  Breads, Seasoning Blends, Dips, Desserts, Beef, Chicken, etc....  I also like to label one of the tabs 'resources'...where I store printed forms I like to use for meal planning and shopping. 
    • No need to decide them all right now.  The great thing about this system is you fill it in as you go along.  Ultimate customization! 
  • Plastic page protectors.  Sure, you can just punch holes in your printed papers and add them to the binder, but these will be used in the kitchen over and over.  Maybe it's just me, but that's a messy place!  I LOVE being able to open my binder and set it out right where I'm doing the 'messy' work of making meals for my family.  No worries that I'll get a page wet and smudge the ink.  
    • When I'm filling my pantry with several blends at one time or filling up the freezer with meal kits (example shown here), I can pull out the protected pages, stack them on my work space in the order I need to make them and work my way down the pile.  So easy! 
  • Printed recipes. These will include recipes printed from your personally purchased eCookbooks AND favorite recipe variations using those blends printed from the blog.  

Now I'm ready to build my personalized cookbook...

 1. Put tabs into the binder...all of them.  
They all won't get labeled right now,
but having them in the book keeps them where then need to be
when you need them to be there!
For now...label the tabs you know know you need.  
{I have a tab labeled for each of my cookbook categories 
as well as some for recipes using beef, chicken, etc}

 2.  Slip your printed recipes into the page protectors
and place them behind their appropriate tabs.  

3.  It's a work in progress, but I like that it will grow with me as my needs change.  
I especially like that it provides me 
ONE PLACE  to put all of my family's favorites. 
I've been known to copy recipes from cookbooks 
and put them here so I don't have to 
hunt down recipes from various sources!

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