STEP 1: Gather recipes.
- Collect all your recipes, including printouts, food-stained index cards, newspaper clippings, etc.
- Compile the food magazines you've saved, tear out the pages you want and toss the rest.
- Be ruthless. If a recipe goes back more than a few years and you've never tried it, throw it out.
STEP 2: Sort into categories.
- Take a look at your favorite cookbook for ideas on how to group your recipes. Choose categories like appetizers, chicken entres, desserts, etc.
- Create your own categories. If you love to bake, for example, make separate sections for cakes and pies.
STEP 3: Set up storage.
- Buy a few packs of 4", 6", or 5" x 8" index cards (you'll need at least one card for every recipe) and a binder with plastic sheet protectors. Purchase subject dividers, too.
- Label subject dividers with the categories you've chosen and put them in a binder with the sheet protectors. Copy recipes onto your index cards and place them in the protectors by category. If you don't want to recopy all the recipes, staple them onto a card (if they don't fit, fold the paper).
- Store the recipe-filled binder with your cookbooks.
STEP 4: Plan a Month of Meals.
- Select recipes you'd like to try over the next few weeks, remove from the binder and place in a recipe box. Choose enough for 30 days of meals.
- Keep the box on your kitchen counter, so the recipes will be at your fingertips.
- Rotate the cards once a month, filing the old ones and pulling a new batch out of your binder (ask your family to help choose). It will keep you from getting into a recipe rut.