Organize A Super Cheap Cookbook

ingredients in cookbookI used to write for magazines and some other businesses that wanted magazine-like stories, which means I had a lot of magazines hanging around – you know, to learn the style of the magazine and all that, but I didn’t love that sort of writing, so I quit to blog full-time.

Then however, I had all these magazines left over. What to do? I don’t like reading them, so that’s out. I actually came up with lots of ideas about what to do with my old magazines, but my most used idea is my cookbook idea.

A lot of those magazines were women’s magazines (yawn) but most do have a rush of cool recipes. I spent a couple of hours ripping out all the recipes I wanted, then inserted them into plastic page protectors. Then I simply put them in a few notebooks (one each for, main dishes, baking, sweets). In each of the notebooks, I added some tabs to divide dish types – rice, beverages, cupcakes, etc.

Now I have these totally cool, very brightly photographed cookbooks. Much better than cookbooks you can buy. A bonus of my cookbooks is that the plastic page protectors keep ingredients off the pages. We all spill pumpkin pie mix sometimes.

My total cost: About $15 (it took a lot of page protectors) but that’s way cheaper than cookbooks full of stuff I won’t make.

If you don’t have magazines stock piled you can get some SUPER cheap:

  • People always used to give me magazines for free, so you can ask your friends and neighbors.
  • Thrift stores sell old magazines for soooooo cheap, like 10-50 cents per issue. Just make sure you don’t only get magazines from 1978 when whole fats were still all the rage ;)
  • Garage sales – many have cheap magazines.
  • Free! Your doctor’s office (at the end of a month), your library, the dumpster or recycling center, the hair salon; plenty of places buy magazines and if you ask nicely you could score some.

This has actually helped me organize mealtime, because I didn’t add anything to the cookbooks that I wouldn’t be willing to make. It takes time to flip through a real cookbook, when half the recipes look lame. It also helped to split the books into categories. I never half to search for pasta sauce, because they’re nicely altogether. This project also gets bonus points for being green – you reuse magazines instead of tossing them.

Have you ever done this?

[image via stock.xchng]

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    • Linette

      I was just working on something similar for Robust Cooking. I also save recipes into Word, then print them out several (similar) recipes to a page (front and back) to add to my homemade magazine cookbook. Now you realize I’m just going to link to your post since you did all the work:)

    • Jennifer

      HA! I beat you (for once). My psychic powers worked in my favor this time. Oh ho ho. You could post on the word thing – I do that to, like if someone tells me a recipe, or if I check out a cookbook at the library.

    • Leslie

      I use an idea my mom gave me. I have a 4 x 6 flipping photo album that has legs and stands up. I print my recipes in 4 x 6 size and put them in the album. The pages are made of plastic so no spilling worries, and the album stands so it makes cooking easier because I don’t have to keep bending over a cookbook.

    • Jennifer

      Leslie – that’s a great idea too. The only thing is that I like having the visuals, they inspire me to actually cook. :) But if you don’t need visual help, or need to save magazines, then this is a cool idea.

    • Gloria

      These are great ideas for a homemade cookbook. I’ve been collecting and tweaking recipes for years to suit my taste. If you want to share the recipes you love with your friends and family, why not create your own one-of-a-kind cookbook, have it printed and give them to people you love? It looks professional and is very cost-effective; you could do a print on demand (POD) for about $6.00 a book. You could also do an offset printing for much less per book except you’d have to order a minimum number of cookbooks. I’ve self-published four cookbooks and now have a cookbook under contract with a publisher. Please visit my website at or email me and I’d be happy to give you more information.

    • Carrie

      I just type up the magazine recipes and put them into a binder with page protectors, but I took it one step further. One day last summer I gathered ALL my cookbooks and went through them and wrote down the title/page number/type of recipes I knew our famiy would like. Then I made a spreadsheet and printed it out and put it at the front of my binder. So all of my chicken recipe titles from all of my cookbooks are on one page, desserts, beef, salads, pork, etc. All I have to do is scan the page for something I think sounds good and then just pull the cookbook that it’s in. Sort of a card catelog of recipes. :)

    • Rajaraman

      Or you could just download an One Page Cookbook as I did ! (Just google for One Page Cookbooks) !