If you’re like me, you often find yourself with a half-empty container of Buffalo mozzarella leftover from Monday’s lasagna, or half an onion hiding in the back of your fridge screaming, “eat me! eat me! (preferably before I go bad)”. Because I hate wasting food, I make a conscious effort to use up my leftover ingredients. This isn’t easy to do when I’m feeling uninspired. That’s when I turn to my trusty recipe organization system; let’s call it ROS because it sounds hipper.
Like many people out there, I have a hybrid recipe collection, made up of traditional cookbooks, computer print-outs, and torn magazine pages. I keep the cookbooks on my kitchen shelf, but the loose pages I store in several 3-ring binders. These are kept organized with index tabs (i.e. cakes, vegetables) and then alphabetized in each section.
Now on to the fun part. Some companies have created recipe organization software, but I’ve chosen to use an Excel spreadsheet because it was something I already had access to at home. No fancy Excel skills are required to do this. I’ve simply created eight filtered-columns with the following titles:
1) Recipe: Name of the recipe goes here.
2) Category: What course would this recipe be served? I use descriptions like “breakfast” or “dessert”.
3) Sub-Category: Getting a little more specific here, “eggs” or “cakes”. I suggest labeling your binder tabs the same way.
4) Culture: Is this an “Italian” dish or “Chinese”?
5) Ingredients: You’ve got this one
6) Stars: I have a 5-star rating system, but use one that works best for you (scale of 1-10 perhaps)
7) Season: Food is best and usually less expensive to make when it’s ingredients are in season. Find all your Spring dishes fast.
8) Notes: Is your chicken noodle soup Grandpa’s favorite? Is this recipe labor-intensive? Make note of it here.
Filtered columns are great for viewing all of the information you want, but none of the information you don’t. Entertaining your boyfriend’s parents for dinner and only want you see your top-rated recipes? There ya go!
Most importantly, we’ve solved our leftover Buffalo mozzarella problem. With a ctrl+F search for the word “mozzarella”, Excel will find all of your recipes that contain mozzarella as an ingredient.
This is just one way to get organized. I hope my ROS inspires you to come up with a system that is uniquely you, and that you will think twice before tossing that mozzarella. Because in this house, we use all parts of the Buffalo 😉