Rolodex Recipe Cards

Practical Tip of the week ~

Here’s the most revolutionary organization tip from

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker 

Rolodex Recipe Cardsrolodex recipe card holder

Deniece Schofield recommends a good filing system to clip and save recipes.  Her tried and tested recipes are filed on her labelled Rolodex file. I started mine too, way back in 2000.

It works because ~

  • Easy to file
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • Add new cards  – quick and simple
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • Delegate – I can give each child her recipe card and we can all go for it!

My A,B,C filing system is ~

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • I admit that because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

When we traveled for 18 months, and my Rolodex went into storage, I photocopied about 10 ‘very important’ recipes onto 1 page and kept it in my Filofax.

Now, everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage.  What are your favorites?

For now, my old system serves me well … and I don’t need to recharge it!

“Confessions of an Organized Homemaker is written by Deniece Schofield (ISBN 1-55870-361-6)

What works for you?  Share with us in the comments.


20 thoughts on “Rolodex Recipe Cards

  1. I used a similar approach a few years ago, using a flip type photo album, which was convenient and protected the cards as you just slip the recipe cards into the plastic sleeves. It was limited in size, however – I really don’t know why no one has made a recipe rolodex system this way – I have been looking for one for years.


    • @lindamcenerny, I have updated my Rolodex system over the years as our diet and lifestyle has changed. I now include different colored cardstock for my Low GI/THM recipe alternatives. My teen daughters have added their favorites to my system. We add any new recipe, after it has been tried and is a success, to the system, and I take out old recipes that we no longer use and file them in a box. If I go away on holiday, I simply photocopy my favourite recipe cards on a page or take a photo of the recipe on my phone. It is an absolute joy!


    • @lindamcenerny, I also tried a flip type photo album — but for my guitar chords and songs cards. It works well except for cards that slide out if the album is not closed properly.


  2. Just finding this….because I am looking for a way to help me be more efficient and invite my boys to help in the kitchen. I have a healthy collection of cookbooks and all of my menu planning/pantry management is done on the computer. However, I don’t like the idea of having my computer in the kitchen where things can get messy with boys and I am tired of wasting paper printing them out and it’s a pain to pull out the cookbooks all the time. I’d love a beautiful binder of my most used recipes, but it seems more trouble than the time I have. This maybe a nice compromise!


  3. I like this idea. It just might work. When I graduated from high school many, many years ago, I received a recipe box. It worked well for many of those years, but as we’ve transitioned a lot of our eating habits, I use the box less and less (mainly for holiday cooking now). And with the onset of the computer, I am always looking for new things or trying to revamp an old recipe. These either get printed out, written onto scraps of paper nearby or just looked at while I cook. All these scraps, printed pages, and then re-looks are getting tiresome as I don’t have a “system” for keeping track of all the paper. Biggest problem to converting to the rolodex is not having the time to write out the recipes. I know that you mentioned spending several evenings working on this several years ago, but my schedule right now is pretty tight (evenings included). Looking forward to figuring this out as I can see how this could work. And would probably be the kick in the pants that I need to actually meal plan for the family. Blessings to your family.


    • @Rhoda, your best start might be to create a simple filing system and sort and store your papers and clippings. Perhaps you could try something flexible such as a binder with alphabetic index tabs and plastic sleeves, or a new recipe card box where you could perhaps paste your clippings and recipes notes and file them under your indexed tabs. Blessings!


    • @Renegade, thank you so much for this award! I am honored to be on your list! Forgive me if I don’t post and play it forward, but I am truly grateful for your thumbs up and hope my readers will pop over and visit your blog! Blessings, Nadene


  4. Somewhere around 2000, I began to “meal plan” seriously. I have “renovated” and revamped a few times through the years as the needs of our family have changed but it is still the same basic system: 5 x 7 cards that include an ENTIRE meal of recipes on it- main dish, 2 veggies, a starch, and a once a week desert might be on there too! I then group together a week’s worth( I have 13 different weeks of plans) of meals that have been carefully crafted into easy cooking for the days that we meet with our homeschool group and I race in the door with 30 minutes to put food on the table before rushing out to basketball practice, bigger meals that I use later in the week for “planned overs”, and I can make sure that our side dishes get rotated enough that we eat a good variety and we’re not bored! I’m working on getting it in a printable form for some friends who don’t like to “think about it” as much as I do but would love to cook as much as I do. I keep them in 7 x 9 envelopes with an overview of the meal plan listed on the front side and then all 13 “packs” are kept in a gallon sized ziplock bag! recipes that are new and awaiting use/filing/assigning are kept in a file box. It’s a work in progress but I hope to finish it up in 2013 so that it can be Christmas gifts 🙂


    • @Melissa, wow! This is the first time I’ve read about a system like yours. It sounds fantastic! I love that the entire meal is planned, yet the cards give you the flexibility to mix things up. I’m thinking that this would work in our situation in training my daughters – they can prepare the whole meal on their own! Could I put in my Christmas gift order? [smiles]


  5. You know, I the more I look at the Rolodex, the more I like it. About ten years ago I organized my recipes in a binder, with all the recipes on 8.5 x 11 pages. Worked great for a few years, but now it’s cumbersome and I’m so tired of looking at it…I need something new! I’m due for a recipe purge; maybe that would be a good time to transfer to a smaller medium. Just thinking “out loud” lol! Thanks for the great idea.


  6. I am an Old fashioned Girl. I keep everything written in handmade recipe books taught to me by my Italian grandmothers. It is the same way I am teaching my daughters. We Italian cooks usually keep one favorite book for whatever the reasons we like it, and we jot in the margins to remake recipes, we have recipe cards we use frequently shoved into the pages of our favorite book. Most are recipes that are handed down generation to generation and are not written but learned.
    I have learned to cook by site and taste. I can pour a perfectly level teaspoon/tablespoon salt,sugar, baking powder, etc. in my hand. That is the way it has been done in my family for generations. Now as a homeschooler, I am teaching my daughter the same old ways from which I was taught.


    • @Kimmie, … sigh … I absolutely love your approach! My Jewish grandmama taught me the “thumb” recipe ~ “thumb (some) of this … and thumb of that…” May your daughter treasure her generations-old recipe books!


  7. Interesting idea, Nadene. Where can you buy a rolodex? I use the binder and plastic sleeve system too plus a whole shelf full of recipe books which I wouldn’t like to get rid of. It does take up a lot of space though so I’m keen to try your idea.


    • @Kathy, I bought my Rolodex at a good office stationary store. I also have my shelf of cookbooks. I still love to browse for inspiration. Maybe you can file your absolute favorites?


    • @Life and Learning, I also used to use a binder. I like the Rolodex card system because each recipe is separate and I can add or organize my recipes in a jiffy! Whatever works to keep things organized works for me! 😉


  8. I’m glad you’ve found a system that works for you. I’ve tried various things over the years, but what seems to work best for me is to copy recipes on standard paper, slip them into page protectors, and store them in binders. I have one binder for mains and another for soups, sides, breads, and desserts. Each weekend, I pull out recipes for the week when I’m making my grocery list and store them with the list as a meal plan. At the end of the week, I file the recipes back into their binders. The page protectors make it easy to keep the recipes clean, and I love not having to copy recipes by hand. I do sometimes add handwritten notes onto the recipes as I discover good substitutions or whatever.


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