Keep a Master Cookbook

Every kitchen needs a master cookbook, and that is a project only your family can do!

A master cookbook is, simply put, a collection of your favorite recipes.  You could keep recipes in a binder, or a filing crate organized with file folders, or a index card holder, shoe box, folder (to start, you will grow out of it soon enough), or handwritten recipes in a notebook (or several).  The idea is to keep your favorite recipes within arms reach so that when you have a hankerin’ for something good, you know where to find it.

For years after learning how to cook (I did not grow up knowing how to cook, despite my moms best attempts), I collected many cookbooks.  Out of many cookbooks, I only thought a few recipes were worth trying, and we might only actually like a recipe or two.  Well, when I wanted to cook a recipe from these books I had to take time to try and remember which book I found it in, then I had to find the page it was on.  At that time, I didn’t meal plan so all of our cooking was done spur of the moment and there was no preparation done, such as locating the recipe and having it ready to be found when we needed it.  It gets frustrating trying to find a recipe without any luck after searching through 15 books and counting.  Plus, the time spent….  I could have cooked some of those meals in the time it took me to find a recipe!

After a while I started creating a folder of these recipes we liked.  I ditched the many cookbooks I had and copied the recipes we liked before getting rid of them.  I created a lot of space back in my kitchen!  Today you’d never know because I have once again collected a bookcase worth of cookbooks.  But they all serve a special purpose and are well loved and deserving of a space in my kitchen (at least that is what I will keep telling myself).  I am really quite picky about recipes and feel that in order for a book to have a spot in my kitchen it has to be really, really good.

The star of my kitchen is the cookbook I created a few years ago, which has grown into two binders, and the filing crate that houses all of the new recipes we have collected.  It is here that I spend most of my meal planning time because all of our recipes that are tried and true are in one location.  I have a large variety of cookbooks for the times we want to try something new, either recipe or technique.  But when I find a keeper, the recipe is copied and added to my master collection so we can find it again – easily.

My recipe collecting (hording) doesn’t stop with recipes we love though.  I have another binder (and soon, filing crate), dedicated to recipes we want to try.  This is full of recipes I have copied from other friends cookbooks, torn from magazines, printed from the internet, and scribbled on scrap paper that one day I hope to try.  While not organized to my liking yet, I would one day like to see it broken down more than just main categories, but down to specific stars of the meal – especially side dishes.  I love collecting recipes that focus on a vegetable.  Something we grow or have considered growing, so that when it’s ready to harvest we know exactly what we want to do with it.  We have grown it with a purpose!  But I can also share a bunch of recipes of how to cook what we grow and sell, beyond the norm.  I love cooking and I especially love trying new recipes and sharing what our family has found to be yummy.

I have been working on  master cookbooks for each of my girls to take with them when they start families of their own.  We are taking our time and making it into a scrapbook for now.  Pictures of them cooking and the meals they have made, with their favorite meals handwritten on cute papers.  They are young yet, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like as they grow older.

Do you have a master cookbook?

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