Organizing your recipes on your computer can be a little daunting but ultimately is well worth the time to do.  Once you have set-up your recipe organizational system it becomes very easy to both save and to find recipes.  I used to labor over “under what category should I save this recipe so I can find it later?  Should I save it under the entrée name or the sauce name?”  Now I do both.  That way when I go to my Halibut recipes I can see what sauces I have specifically paired with Halibut in the past.  Or I can go to my Beurre Blanc sauce file and see all my Beurre Blancs to pick one for the Halibut which I used for a different application but may not have used for Halibut yet.

Most of my recipes are in an Excel format, but some are in Word and a few are even html web pages I have saved to a folder.  I prefer Excel because it is easy to scale a recipe to feed 20 people or 2000.  And Excel also allows me to put costing right into the recipe format to calculate my food cost % and appropriate sales price.

Below is a picture of part of my computer Recipe File.  The small yellow folders are category names which have other folders or recipes contained in them.  On the right side, the names with blue are actual recipes which I have not yet assigned to a category and so are as yet still unorganized.

The right half of the page shows the major categories I have chosen, a few of which refer to establishments I have worked at, but most of them are organized by food categories.  The left half of the page shows some of the sub-categories.  You can see my sub-categories for “Entrées” and also for “Sauces”.  On the left-hand side of the page, any file with a “+” in it has sub-categories.  So, “Sauces” have the primary sub-categories of “Cold”, “Hot”, “Marinades”, and “SpiceMix”.  And the sub-category of “Hot” has its own sub-categories of “Adobo”, “Beurre”, “Butters”, “Cream”, etc.  Each of these sub-categories contain the actual recipes.


How To Organize Recipes


In the image below I have opened the “Beurre” sub-category file under “Sauces/Hot”.  In it you can see the actual recipes saved there.  You can see that I have both Excel and Word recipe formats saved here.  Using a file structure like this keeps your recipes very organized and searchable.

How To Organize Recipes 2


This final image (below) shows the full primary organization of my recipe file (on the left side of the page) with only the primary files showing.  Note that the top most file is called “Recipe” and all other recipe files are contained in it and under it.  This way I can back-up my entire recipe database simply by saving my “Recipe” folder because all other recipes are contained in it.



Comments from before Site Migration

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MADELINE REYNOLDS []    [ Oct 11, 2015 ]

I appreciate you sharing the basics for those of us just starting out.  Very helpful.  Hugs to you for helping me learn something new today and saving time.

MELANIE C []    [ Oct 28, 2013 ]

I started a company, Dish Dish, with an online cookbook tool where members can digitize recipes, search easily, access from any computer or mobile device, edit or update, add photos and notes, keep private or share, create shopping lists or menus, and save the cookbook as a PDF for referencing if without internet access, and made even easier to use with the Dish Dish Online Cookbook app for iPad and iPhone now available.  It is free to set up an account and get started at

DAVID BUCHANAN    [ Aug 06, 2010 ]

Nice site for storing recipes online!  It looks excellent for adding new recipes, or adding links to website recipes.  Are you going to add the ability to upload recipes in Word and Excel formats?  This would make the site extreemly user friendly as I would not have to copy and paste all my existing recipes.

EHAB BANDAR []    [ Aug 06, 2010 ]

For an online way, I created Foodfolio, a free recipe organizer that lets you save and customize recipes you find online, as well as add your own plus a ton of ways to search and manage your recipes.

MAGICOFSPICE    [ Jul 09, 2010 · Delete ]

I so could have used this at the restaurant:(  And still can… Excellent post:)

DAVID BUCHANAN    [ Jul 08, 2010 ]

Excellent point!

MARY ANN HAGANS []    [ Jul 08, 2010 ]

And the most important process to complete is…Don’t forget to back up your files!


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Cristie Bayford

I’ve only just joined with a membership today! You have some amazing information on this website! I’m curious as to how you created the recipe files and linked the recipes across. I have thousands of recipes all over the shop that I need to organize somewhat. Thank you!

Cristie Bayford


Martin J

I personally like to research recipes online and we all know how easy it is to get caught up for hours in a plethora of information . Best tool , hands down , to organize is the app Scrivener , actually developed for writers .

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