Quit looking through your whole cookbook shelf or Pinterest board to find the one recipe you're wanting to make! A recipe binder is the best way to keep your favorite recipes organized and in one place so you can always find what you need in a few turns of the page.

Jordan holding her recipe binder, from Fun Cheap or Free

If you've been around for longer than about 2.5 seconds, then you know I'm all about meal planning, shelf cooking, grocery shopping on a budget, and feeding my family affordable and filling meals. But want me to let you in on a little secret?? I actually despise cooking! Literally, I don't like it at all, not one bit.

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BUT I do like how much money we're able to save versus eating out, that it sets a good example for our kids, and that it allows us to be able to spend our hard-earned money on things I'd rather spend money on! Enter one of my biggest secrets… the recipe binder. It's the perfect way to cook regularly, affordably, and simply, for your family! So, what are you waiting for? Let's get to all the juicy details!

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Watch the video over how to set up a recipe binder online HERE or keep scrolling for a look at my recipe binder below… you totally need one!

So simple, right? Keep on reading for a recap!


Cookbooks organized on a shelf, from Fun Cheap or Free

Remember when your mom or grandma had the fun handwritten recipe cards you could flip through and find what you needed? Well, the times have changed and more likely than not, you're probably not writing down your favorite recipes any more.

If you're anything like I used to be, then you find an awesome recipe on the internet the whole family loved, but then you can never find it again because you can't remember what it was called or which website it came from.

This is where a recipe binder comes in to save the day!

Print those recipes you just made and loved and keep them in your new favorite kitchen tool. I even go so far to make copies of recipes from cookbooks and put them in the recipe binder! It's so much easier to find them because you don't have to search through 20 different cookbooks… Even if they are all beautifully displayed in a rainbow. 😉


Alright, now you have all your favorite recipes, let's get them in your recipe binder! Here are the tools you'll need to make your own:

  • Binder – Obvs go for the cute one if you can find it, but don't spend a lot of money! Most importantly, you want it to be sturdy and big enough to hold all of your family's tried and true recipes as you add to it.
  • Dividers with Tabs – A recipe binder is all about organizing your recipes to make them easier to find, so you'll need some dividers that can hold up and withstand the test of time. Plastic is the best way to go!
  • Page Protector Sheets – Okay, so you don't have to have your recipes in these sheets, but they'll really help the pages last longer if you do. They also clean off easily if there are any spills.
  • 3-Hole Punch – If you choose to skip the page protectors, then you'll need to punch your pages so they'll fit in the recipe binder.

Super easy! You're going to love this so much, you'll want to make one for all your best friends and family members. Luckily they make great gifts that won't cost you a fortune!


Recipe binder organizer tabs, from Fun Cheap or Free

The key to easily being able to find the recipe you're looking for is to use those dividers and keep it organized. Do whatever makes the most sense to you, but I recommend organizing it by protein. That way if you have something sitting in your fridge or freezer that needs to be eaten, you can easily turn to those recipes to find one that will work with the ingredients you have.

Here's how I have mine organized:

  • Appetizers/Sides/Breakfast
  • Soups
  • Italian/Pasta
  • Chicken
  • Beef/Pork/Seafood
  • Desserts

You can easily get a lot more detailed and break those down into separate categories, such as casseroles, slow cooker, Instant Pot, sheet pan, one-pot, etc. if that helps you keep it better organized and find your recipes.


Picture of a recipe card in a binder, from Fun Cheap or Free

There are a few things you should write down when you print off your recipes before adding them to your binder. These will save your bacon the next time you make it!

  • Make a Note – Write down your family's reaction towards the recipe. This will help you remember who all loved it the next time you go to make it.
  • Write Down Adaptations/Substitutions – You'll never be able to remember what changes you need to make to the recipe the next time you make it! Help yourself out and write down any changes you made to it or any substitutions you tried out and loved.
  • Only Add Recipes You've Tried and Liked – Remember, this recipe binder is only for the recipes you've made and the whole family (minus the picky eaters) liked! If you tried it and it was just meh, don't add it.
  • Have a Separate “Need to Try” Binder – If you've printed out recipes to try but haven't tried them yet, create a “Need to Try” binder and add them to that. Keep it organized in the same way so you can easily find a recipe that uses the ingredients you have on hand. Then once you try it and love it, you can make any notes and move it to your tried and true binder.

This recipe binder is going to become a member of the family and will hold so many great memories as you cook for your family over the years! It also makes it easy for other members of the family to easily be able to find meal ideas or cook the meal on the day of.


Obviously you need some recipes to start filling up your binder to make planning meals easier! Pinterest is always a great resource when you're looking for anything and everything to give you ideas. AllRecipes.com is another of my go-to's because you can search for recipes by the ingredients that you have, which is what shelf cooking is all about!

Ye ‘ole faithful blog also has some of my favorite recipes, not to toot my own horn or anything… You can find those tried and true recipes here and on ShelfCooking.com as well!

Alright, well there you have it! You're now the meal planning master with you handy dandy recipe binder, filled to the brim with your family's favorite meals. What's your go-to tried and true meal the whole family loves? Share them with me in the comments below, I'm always looking for new meals to try!

Image with text that reads "recipe binder: how to organize meals like a boss" from Fun Cheap or Free

Wanting more great ideas?

Happy recipe binder-making!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free