It has often been said that food ought to be made with love, and that’s because recipes are more than just the exact the means and methods for reproducing a beloved dish. They can also be the smells and tastes of our childhood, family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation, unique culinary traditions — all of it worthy of preservation.
Whatever the recipe source, it’s important to personalize and organize your recipe cards in whatever way makes them easy to use and inspires your creativity in the kitchen. By the end of this article, if you haven’t found recipe card templates you want to use, then you’ll at least have all the ideas you will need to make your own!
How To Begin Collecting Recipes
Whether you’re writing out recipe cards or putting together a digital cookbook, the best place to start is always with your favorites.
Seek Out Family Favorites
If you can’t remember how your Grandma made her famous banana bread, and none of the recipes you’ve found in cookbooks or online have done that memory justice, reach out to her or other loved ones for more information. To make it a memory book as well as a cookbook, all you have to do is collect family photos that go with the recipes, from Dad blowing out the candles on his birthday cake to your sibling cooking their first meal in their new house. This will create a resource that future generations can enjoy!
Find Your Own Go-To Recipes
Experiment! Try to recreate the best thing on the menu of your favorite restaurant. Browse Pinterest and recipe websites. Make and remake whatever speaks to your stomach, with whatever changes and substitutions suit your diet and lifestyle.
Make Sure You Have All the Info
Once you have your recipes and are ready to turn them into recipe cards, it’s time to think about how you want to standardize the information for your personal use. Does each one have notes on how many people the recipe will serve, or how long it takes to prep all the ingredients? These are small details, but consistency can be very helpful.
The Best Ways to Organize
Systems for organizing recipes depend heavily on what resources you have to work with. So, how do you want to display your recipes?
Cards or Pages
There’s a big difference between the amount of information you can cram into a 4”x6” index card as opposed to what you can fit on an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper. If a recipe is very long or your recipe cards aren’t double-sided, you might end up running out of space or simplifying the recipe down to something that’s more of a memory aid than a complete record. Whatever works best for you!
Box or Binder
Consider storage options for your recipe cards. On one hand, a classic recipe box is quick and easy to flip through, doesn’t take up much space on your kitchen counter, and you can use simple index cards or print out custom recipe card templates. On the other, a ring binder can protect your recipes from splashes and spills with plastic page protectors, or photo album sleeves if you’re using smaller cards, and it fits right on the nearest bookshelf when not in use.
Both can include tabs that organize recipes into different dish types. If making your own, here are some categories you might use:
- Sides and Small Plates
- Handheld (i.e. Tacos, Calzones)
- Entree (i.e. Lunch, Dinner)
- Big Batch
- Staples (i.e. Pasta, Bread)
- Flavor (i.e. Sauces, Oils, Dips)
A Digital Collection
If you’re printing out your recipes anyway, it makes sense to keep a digital copy too. Even if you handwrite your recipe cards it still makes sense to have a backup in case of an emergency. Options like Google Docs, Pinterest, and Evernote offer cloud storage, accessible across multiple devices, and the ability to organize and search.
Finding Recipe Cards Templates
Once you’ve got your recipes and decided on your formatting, there’s a huge variety of free printable designs to choose from online. Keep in mind that using multiple designs, colors, and even illustrations for different categories can make flipping through to find the recipe you want easier.
Here are 10 recipe cards templates you can download and start using today. They each have some very useful features, so even if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for you’ll have plenty of ideas going forward.
1. Temp, Time, and Yields
Have you ever forgotten to preheat the oven in advance, needed to plan meals around a time crunch, or accidentally made way too much or not enough food? These Printable Watercolor Recipe Cards by Jo Cheung from The Creativity Exchange have lines at the top of each recipe card to call attention to this information.
2. Simple And Clean
Some designs have illustrations that take up space, but these Free Printable Recipe Cards by Michelle from Weekend Craft aren’t too busy while still being colorful. They even have a place to list all the ingredients to the left of the directions.
3. Dish Type
Tabs aren’t the only way to organize your recipes. These Free Owl Recipe Cards from My Owl Barn have check boxes in the top left corner so you can see at a glance if the recipe falls into one or more of these categories: Lunch, Soup, Vegan, Dessert, Brunch, and Snack.
4. Typed Instead Of Handwritten
Typing recipes can be essential for anyone with messy handwriting and a godsend at a recipe swap. That's where templates like these Free Printable Recipe Cards by Michelle from Elegance & Enchantment really come in handy! Instead of wondering if that says teaspoon or tablespoon, read it in a clear and regular font.
5. Sort By Source
Whether you’ve collected recipes from family members or from friends at a recipe swap, these Free Printable Recipe Cards by Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama have a “From the kitchen of…” line for noting down where the dish came from. They also come in different colors so, for example, you might use purple for ancestors, teal for closer relatives, yellow for friends, and red for recipes you found on Pinterest.
6. Recipe Swaps And Gifts
Not all recipe cards have to be card shaped. Cutout-style cards like these Free Printable Mason Jar Recipe Cards by Kristi from I Should Be Mopping The Floor are perfect for attaching to actual mason jars full of treats. That way, if the recipient likes the goodies, they can easily add it to their own recipe box.
7. Fill In Your Own Layout
Blank cards like these Chevron Stripe Recipe Cards by Jamie from Prepared Housewives are a colorful blank slate. They can be filled in with any information you’d like, in any order you want. Decide what’s important on a case-by-case basis!
8. Mix And Match By Season
Maybe you have a some recipes that call for a watermelon, or some that require pumpkin. There are a few different ways you could sort them, but one is with these Fun Printable 6x4 Recipe Cards by Amy Sampson of Sassaby Parties. Use red for summer, yellow for fall, blue for winter, and green for spring.
9. Single Out Special Treats By Holiday
You can also sort by holidays. These Wood Type Holiday Printables from The Elli Blog are very Christmas, but a quick search online can also bring up options for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, and any other celebration you might cook for.
10. Turn Your Planner Into A Meal Planner
Add these Menu Planner and Recipe Cards Printables by Amber from AmberDowns.Net to the planner you already have for a by-the-week flip through. They’re great for anyone trying to stick to a diet by planning ahead, and once the week is over you can save the recipe cards in their own separate little recipe book or box until needed again.
There are many reasons and ways to save recipes. Maybe you want to record and preserve family memories, with photos and back-stories galore. Maybe you want a quick reference when you’re deciding what to make for dinner and you only have an hour. Maybe you just want a project to get creative with, and by the time you were done decorating the outside of your recipe box you realized you need something just as stylish to go inside.
All you have to do is find the recipe card or cards that best suit your needs, whether that’s digitally, in print, or both. Having a set template introduces a consistent standard that makes it easier to glance through and know where to look on the card to find what you’re looking for, and there are so many printable templates available to use. Mix and match! Go wild, in an organized sort of way! But above all, build yourself a collection of recipe cards that will breathe life and love into your kitchen.