Some Thoughts On Organizing Your Cookbook Collection

(Image credit: Dana Velden)

OK.  So we’ve made our peace with our cookbook addiction.  Now, how are we going organize all those precious volumes in a way that is attractive, useful, and practical?  Read on for a few hints.

What all organizing boils down to is personal preference.  People have very different organizational styles and priorities, so figuring out what works for you is your first task. Do you need to keep things neatly tucked away or are you an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of person?  Are you a visually driven person?  Do you think of your cookbooks by author or by subject?

First, a reminder that all of your cookbooks do not have to be in the kitchen.  As a matter of fact, unless you have a surplus of storage in your kitchen (which nobody does, by the way), it’s probably best to store the bulk of your cookbooks in another part of the house.  It’s nice to keep a handful of the most-used books in the kitchen, maybe six to 12 volumes, and occasionally rotate in a few from your larger collection to keep things fresh.

By subject or by author?
Figure out how you think about a cookbook.  Do you remember the author first, or by the subject, or maybe even the color and size?  That’s your first clue for how to organize things.  For some, keeping all of Martha Stewart’s books together might be the best way to go, while for others, they will need to be split up and divided into categories such as baking, grilling, entertaining, etc.

By size or color?
If your collection isn’t too big, you might be able to go by physical appearance, if that is important to you.  Some people don’t like the look of different sized books all shelved together, or really enjoy arranging books by color.  I suspect this works best for smaller collections but I see a fair amount of this around the internet, so it must be useful.

All a-jumble
This is my style.  I have a fairly large amount of cookbooks but I don’t keep them organized in any specific way.  The truth is, I can usually lay my hands on the book I’m looking for in about 30 seconds, so I’ve never seen the need to do more organizing than occasionally swooping through my very small house and returning the various piles that have accumulated to their shelves. Instead of filing things into categories, my brain remembers where I left them last so what may look chaotic to some actually makes perfect sense to me.

Do you have any tips for keeping track of your cookbooks?  What method works for you?

This post was requested by MDG.

(Image: Dana Velden)