Family Cookbook Project

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I have been a bit busy putting together a cookbook for my niece. When my sister got married many years ago, I put together a family cookbook for her. It was filled with all the recipes we had growing up. It was useful and nostalgic all at once.

Now that my niece is married, she needs her own cookbook. My sister gave me a list of recipes to include, and I supplemented it a bit with a few more recipes.

The big issue was format. Should I have the book printed? Should I print and bind it myself?

In the end, I  went the DIY route and settled on a really nice cookbook template that I found at All Things Simple.  You might want to do a similar project, using the same template, so I am sharing how my cookbook came out.

To do this project, you need a mini binder that holds paper that is 5.5″x8.5″ (half the size of a regular sheet of paper), plus 5.5 ” x 8.5″ size sheet protectors.

The page template is set up in landscape mode, with a dotted line down the center, dividing the 8.5″x11″ page into two 5.5″x8.5″ pages. There is a line at the edge of each page that marks where you will glue a strip of patterned paper.

As an alternative to numbering the pages and creating section dividers, you mark each page with a strip of patterned paper glued to the edge. Each section of the cookbook has a different pattern of paper glued to the edge of its pages. The cookbook is prefaced with a page that lists the sections and shows the pattern for each section.

So, for example, if you are looking for a chicken recipe, you look at the list and see that meat main dishes are marked with a pinkish-reddish patterned paper. You flip to the pages edged with that pattern paper to find the chicken recipe.  I also added an index in the back of the book that lists each recipe in each section in the order that it appears, but that does not seem to be part of the original scheme.

The idea is clever because it makes it easy to add, remove and rearrange recipes. On the downside, the more recipes you have crammed into a section, the less helpful it will be in locating a specific recipe. The design isn’t meant for a really large recipe collection (another downside). I was only able to get about 65 sheet protectors (each filled with two pages, back to back) into the book. Once the strips were glued on to the sheets, the book was slightly overstuffed.

The font that is set up (which is very pretty and easy to read) also makes it a bit tricky to get a recipe per page. Some recipes needed to be put on two pages. The alternative to this is shrinking the font and stretching out the text boxes so that they hold more text. Best case scenario, I think, gives you space for about 126 recipes. That isn’t bad, but you will need more binders for more recipes.

One way to save a bit of space and a lot of time is to put the patterns as a graphic in the document itself, so there is no need for cutting and gluing of scrapbook paper.

You might want to have fewer recipes and add pictures. There is an alternate page template for that. The regular page template assumes that recipes will be on both sides of a page, so the strip marking for the left hand page is on the left and the strip marking for the right hand page is on the right. The alternate photo template assumes that only one side of a page has a recipe, so the strip marking is just on the right hand side. This leave you with the option of adding a photo to the opposite side of the page.

One more thing: save the template as a template and not as a Word document. I had trouble replicating the template pages when I saved it as a Word document and I didn’t have a problem replicating the page format when the template was saved as a template.

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3 Responses to “Family Cookbook Project”

  1. Mrs. S. Says:

    What a nice idea!

  2. Leora Says:

    This is so much better than looking at recipes on an iPad! Maybe I can see it in person sometime? I like the idea. Wonder if I could interest my daughter in doing one together.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      I already gave the book to my niece, but I can show you how to do it. I think this could be a really fun project to do with your daughter, especially if you add artwork to it or make it into more of a creative scrapbook project.

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