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Making a Recipe Index

It really pains me to see food that I’ve bought or grown go to waste.  However I’ve come by it, that food represents my effort and transferring it from the fridge to the bin means wasted effort.  But just what do you do with a glut of carrots and an old head of broccoli?

My solution is to keep a ‘Recipe Index.’  This is just a spreadsheet which lets me search for ‘carrot’ or ‘broccoli’ and tells me which recipes (tried and tasted or new) require them.  Setting it up is easy.  Here’s how:

  1. Think about what you cook and how you want to balance the mix of tried and tasted recipes with new ones.  To facilitate the way I work, my spreadsheet has several worksheets within it – New Main Dishes, New Soups, T&T Main Dishes and T&T Soups.
  2. The columns on each worksheet are headed – Ingredient, Name of Recipe, Location.  The location might be the name of a book or my clippings folder if it has come from a magazine.
  3. Take the first recipe you want to enter and choose the appropriate worksheet.  In the ingredient column use one row for each ingredient.  You don’t need to add the quantities but do need to be consistent with the names so that all the ‘onion, red’ entries can be sorted together with the recipes they belong to.  As ingredients can be substituted – a white onion for a red one, for example – I enter them as ‘onion, red’ or ‘beef, mince’ rather than ‘red onion’ or ‘minced beef’.
  4. Once all the ingredients are listed go back to the first one and type in the name of the recipe (for ease of finding I type this exactly as it’s printed) and the location.  Copy and paste this information next to each of the other ingredients.
  5. Save the spreadsheet and repeat for the next recipe.
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