Food magazines taking over my home: I need your help!

Magazines & newspapers on bookshelf

The farmer’s market was just a little more exciting than usual this morning: Barbara Fairchild, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine was there signing copies of her new cookbook, “Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh.” Of course I had to buy it right then and there, despite the fact that it was $15 cheaper on Amazon (same thing happened when Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg were selling their fantastic new book “The Flavor Bible” – story about this below**).

While waiting to pay for my book, I began chatting with Fairchild and a few other women in line with me about the magazine and how we all store our copies. Fairchild said how for her it’s easy because she has all the issues in her office organized by year. The woman behind me used to have 40+ years of the magazine which she had to sell when she moved, but they were organized by month. Me – mine are in piles all over my apartment.

Magazines on Coffee Table

This is a problem I’ve been aware of for quite some time, as every person who’s visited in the past year or so has made the same observation: “you sure do have a lot of food magazines and cookbooks.” And the worst part is they’re right – these things are taking over my life.

While most admire my ever-growing cookbook collection which I am oddly possessive over, they seem to have trouble with the magazines, which to be honest are arranged haphazardly in piles. The titles are all mixed together – Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Saveur, Eating Well, Chicago Magazine, etc… I say I don’t want to part with them as they’re good resources when I’m stumped for meal ideas, to which the response is always “why don’t you just cut out the recipes you want to save?”

To anyone else this would probably be a good suggestion. But you see I like to refer the index that most of these magazines have, that lists all the recipes in that issue usually categorized by course.

Since I’m being stubborn about keeping all these issues, I need your suggestions on how to organize them. Do I clump them all together by month? Separate each magazine and store chronologically? Separate and then store my month? Help me take back my living space!!!

** I was a little intimidated prior to meeting Page and Dornenburg – afterall they’re the authors of some of my favorite food reference books (Culinary Artistry, What to Drink with What You Eat) – but they were so nice. There wasn’t a line when I arrived so we had a few minutes to chat. The most interesting thing though was how they seem to have made a game out of figuring out what people do based on their handshake. When I shook Page’s hand she immediately asked if I was industry, which I am. She then asked if I was a pastry chef or baker, which I’m not but this was during my pretzel bread phase. She explained it had something to do with my grip and that part of my hand was stronger than most. I thought it was interesting.

  • emster posted: 18 Oct at 9:42 pm

    Hmm, I’d say separate by magazine and then chronologically. This will make it easy to find seasonal recipes but also recipes where you remember the magazine but not the month.

    Okay, so if you do this, you’ll need some hardware:

    Now, it can still be difficult to locate a recipe when you remember neither the magazine nor the month. So, one (albeit time-consuming) solution to this is to create an index in Word to keep track of all the recipes. This, of course, means looking through all the magazines again to create the initial index, but once you log your current stash, you’ll only have to add new recipes/index terms monthly (or however often you get new magazines). You’ll just want to decide on your index categories so that it’s easily searchable.

    I’m no expert, but if your collection is as massive as it seems, an index will save you time and frustration in the long run. Good luck–this is quite a project, but it’ll feel so good when you’re all organized!

  • pamlcohen posted: 19 Oct at 10:18 am

    I keep binders organized by category- i.e. poultry, seafood, pasta, etc. I have photo pages in there, (with the sticky back and plastic covers) so I cut out the recipes I want to save and put them in the pages by category. This works fairly well, and when I want to use a recipe I can just unclip the page and put it back when I am finished.

  • emster posted: 19 Oct at 1:45 pm

    Once you decide how to get organized, you could start a “lens” about it on Squidoo!

  • [...] it goes back on my bookshelf where I’ll use it to reference recipes in the future. However, my latest acquisition created a bit of a challenge: “The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh” is [...]

  • Pat posted: 14 Nov at 8:35 am

    Better to have a one a big room or cabinet for your books. Organize it from Categories just like Foods, Sacred Books, Etc.

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