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Thinning out the cookbook collection

Categories: Cooking


For someone who doesn’t cook a lot (I feed my family, and all but I don’t consider cooking a hobby), I sure do love cookbooks. I read them, and bookmark recipes, and I firmly believe I’m going to try them out, yet most of them remain meals unrealized. I guess I use them more for inspiration than actual cooking, but I still like them.

I use online recipe sites, too, because I’m a good digital citizen, but it’s just not the same as perusing a cookbook, and I’m not someone who believes the Internet will make them obsolete.

I used to have quite the collection of cookbooks, but it started getting a little out of hand and I needed to thin it out a bit. It was hard because most of them meant something to me as some were wedding gifts or a memento of a group or a school. Some were ones that I inherited from my grandmother and other relatives (the hazards of being an only child), while others represented a lifestyle I wanted to sample.

I culled the collection and kept two shelves (instead of many) based on the following (non-scientific, merely my whim) categories:


- Ones my mother-in-law gave me (need I say more?)
- Timeless, basic cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking (stuff I’d ask my mother if she was still alive)
- My most-used regional cookbooks (small town church ones, Southern Living Annual Recipes, etc.)
- Healthy recipes
- One holiday cookbook

I was hard to get of so many because they’d always been with me. I’d moved them from place to place, and it wasn’t until they were falling off the shelves and annexed themselves under the bed that I realized I needed to do something.

With some hesitation, I put quite a few in a yard sale, and it turned out to be so much fun to see people who really wanted them be excited to get them.

So, it’s a start, but you’ll notice I didn’t address what to do with recipes that are clipped from magazines or what to do with this box of hand-written recipe card that was my grandmother’s because I haven’t figured that out, yet!

How about you, are you a cookbook person? Is your collection vast, or do you have it pared down to only those you need?

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2 comments so far...

  • If you have access to a smartphone or a scanner, take pictures of the recipes and save them in Evernote. It will recognize the words (even handwritten, I swear…it’s voodoo) and you can search later by a recipe title or even and ingredient.

    Or you can just forget that they are there like you do with all the recipe cards and clipped articles. Plus you get some shelf space back.

    Chris Chamberlain  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 2:15 pm

  • I’ve done this too. (Truth be told I could totally get rid of more and probably will at my next garage sale.) I use a small handful of cookbooks and they have a home on a shelf over my desk.

    Headless Mom  |  November 26th, 2011 at 12:23 am