The 1 Best Way to Make Your Own Recipe Book

What would make one decide to make your own recipe book? Having debated with my husband for the umpteenth time about whether to give a store-bought cake or a bouquet of flowers as gifts to both my mom and mother-in-law for their birthdays (we sent them flowers and a card last year) a few months ago, it dawned on me that I had been putting so little effort into my gifts year in and year out or so this year, I had to come up with more meaningful gift ideas for my mom and mother-in-law who love cooking.

While racking my brain, I remembered how, when I was growing up, my mom liked to clip recipes out of soup can labels, magazines, and pretty much anywhere she could find new recipes to try. It was a time when finding easy dinner recipes wasn‘t as easy as going online and visiting your favorite food blogs, so every recipe was either handwritten or clipped out of some random recipe resource. All these clippings and notes were tucked into a little box, while her favorites were given a special place on the corkboard in our kitchen.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Make Your Own Recipe Book

Through the years, my mom acquired quite a few clippings. Some of them had faded over time, while others were so fragile that they probably wouldnt have survived much longer if I hadn’t done something about it. Then the idea dawned on me while I was flipping through one of our customized photo books filled with family pictures.

It was then that I came up with the perfect birthday gift: a personalized cookbook filled with my moms and mother-in-law’s own beloved recipes. Having just a little over a month to complete both projects, I figured if I was going to go the “make your own recipe book” route it was going to be a big undertaking. But with a little planning and know-how, I realized it wasn’t too bad. And the outcome was better than I could have expected.

Why Are Recipe Books Great Gifts?

A “make your own recipe book” is a great gift for so many reasons. It can be a thoughtful present that is personalized for the recipient, whether that means being tailored to their individual tastes and interests, or focusing on specific dietary needs, a particular cuisine, or something else that they’re passionate about – like a collection of personal family recipes.

Additionally, a DIY recipe book can provide hours of enjoyment for the recipient. Having the chance to experiment with new recipes that maybe they haven’t used or hadn’t cooked or tasted in a very long time can be a fun and fulfilling activity that they can do alone or with friends and family. Plus, having a collection of recipes that they already know they’ll enjoy – like grandma’s pot-pie – is a great way to encourage them to get in the kitchen and cook.

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A DIY or “make your own recipe book” gift can be a meaningful way to preserve recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. It’s a great way to ensure that the recipes are preserved and can be enjoyed for years to come. If a recipe book is well made, that book can then continue to be handed down for generations without the worry of ripped, stained or lost recipe cards. Even better? The “make your own recipe book” book can be duplicated and handed out to all of the family members. How sweet is that?

How to Make Your Own Recipe Book

Step 1: Collect the recipes.

The first step to creating a “make your own recipe book” was to decide what was going to go in it. I committed to compiling some of my mom‘s and mother-in-law’s most beloved family recipes (at least according to me and my husband, our sibling’s opinions notwithstanding). Under the guise of transferring their collections into digital form for my future reference, I borrowed my moms envelope of clippings and my mother-in-laws notebook full of handwritten Italian-American recipes from her side of the family with the promise that, yes, I would return them as soon as I was done.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Make Your Own Recipe Book

Step 2: Curate the collection, and type up the chosen ones.

Its a process that, I won’t lie, resulted in some minor disagreements between me and the hubby – none of which, thankfully, got too heated. Since there were just too many recipes, we decided to pick out our favorites among the bunch for this “make your own recipe book”. But we ran into some difficulty in agreeing with each others choices, with him having tasted my mom’s cooking and I tasted his mothers as well.

Clearly, we both had our own favorites from each household‘s recipe repertoire. After whittling them down to a modest 15 recipes each, I tasked the hubby (as he is the faster typist of the two of us) to type them up on the computer.

If it sounds quite tedious, I can tell you now that it certainly was. But luckily, my tech-savvy husband found something that helped make the “make your own recipe book” process faster and easier: the Google Goggles app. It‘s a free Android app that captures text from an image and converts them into actual text that you can copy and paste anywhere.

Step 3: Design a consistent and book-friendly format for the recipes.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Make Your Own Recipe Book

Using simple pen and paper, I drew some layout ideas for my “make your own recipe book” templates. I had never done this before, obviously, so I found some inspiration from the recipe books I had in my kitchen.

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For organization, I decided to divide the books into chapters, separating the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes. I wanted the name of the recipe in a large font on the top of the page, with sub-headings such as Category, Serving Size, and Cook Time underneath. I also wanted a large photo of the dish taking up at least one-fourth of the page, with Ingredients on the opposite side of the photo and the Directions underneath.

For an added personal touch, I added a small “Reviews section in the layout. This was made up of warm or funny blurbs contributed by various relatives about their fond memories of the dish.

Step 4: Cook!

Since no “make your own recipe book” would be complete without pictures, I obviously had to do a photoshoot for each dish – and for that to happen, I would need to actually cook them.

In the weeks before Mother’s Day, I cooked nothing but the dishes I was going to include in the recipe books, making sure to make them as presentable as I could with lovely plates and fresh garnishes.

daily mom parent portal make your own recipe book

Step 5: Take photographs.

In the beginning, it was just me and my point-and-shoot Canon camera, but after some initial (and quite terrible) attempts at food photography, I decided to enlist the help of my neighbor, who owned a DSLR camera and was pretty adept with it.

And even better? He allowed me to pay him for his service with delicious food! After each shoot, I would put a large portion of the recipe we had shot into a Pyrex dish for him to take home – a setup that proved a great convenience to me, since my hubby and I would never be able to finish everything.

If you dont personally know any photographers or have the budget to hire one, there is no problem in doing it yourself with whatever camera (you can even use your smartphone) you have at your disposal. If you dont know the first thing about photography, there are many excellent food styling/photography blog posts out there with some helpful tips for beginners. They won‘t make you an amazing food photographer overnight, but they will certainly help you take halfway-decent photos for your own “make your own recipe book”.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Make Your Own Recipe Book

There are dozens of helpful tips and tricks out there, but below are the key takeaways that almost all bloggers agree on:

  • Dont use the cameras flash.
  • Use natural lighting, but not direct sunlight.
  • Use the Rule of Thirds.
  • Shoot from the diner’s point of view.
  • Be creative with backgrounds, but don’t overcrowd the shot.
  • Experiment with light and shadows and their effects on your food’s texture.
  • Stabilize the camera.
  • Use photo apps to edit.

Step 6: Create your official recipe book.

Daily Mom Parent Portal Make Your Own Recipe Book

At this point, there was only one decision to make: should I go with a DIY scrapbook for my own “make your own recipe book” (printing everything on my home printer and gluing them onto a hardcover book with blank pages) or have them published in a sleek, professionally printed “make your own recipe book”? Eventually, I decided on the latter, as I wanted these recipe books to stand the test of time, and having them published by a reputable printing service would give me a much more durable and robust product.

Here are the options I contemplated on:

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  • Old-Fashioned Binder

For a truly homemade, no-brainer option, simply take a three-ring binder, some plastic page protectors, and a bunch of tabbed dividers, then insert the photos and printed-out recipes into the plastic pockets. Sure, its inexpensive and handmade, but honestly, it‘s a mere step up from the recipe collection techniques my mom implemented for herself.

  • Cookbook Scrapbook

I have some scrapbooking experience from my days making a secret shrine to the Backstreet Boys (don’t judge) and creating cute friendship scrapbooks for my friends, so I know that doing it this way is just as much a time-consuming effort as it is a labor of love. So when I came across this darling little farmhouse recipe book, the temptation to forfeit weekends lazing on the couch watching a Netflix series marathon in favor of cutting, gluing, and searching for scrapbook papers and embellishments was strong. But in the end, I decided that durability was the most important thing to me, so the power of scrapbooking adorableness did not compel me into going this route.

  • Recipe Photo Book

Knowing that I wanted something truly sturdy and elegant, I did some research online and found out that printing up a recipe book that look like a coffee table book wasn’t that difficult or expensive at all. I found that you could make your own recipe book sleek and durable with glossy pages and a thick, hardbound cover by using any online photo book printing service.

I spent a lot of time researching the most reputable companies, and if you plan to go with the photo book option, I highly suggest you do the same. Look for reviews, impartial company comparisons, and anything else that will help you decide. But in the end, I went with AdoramaPix because I saw some really good reviews about the great quality of their photo books – plus I found a 25 percent off coupon code for them online.

All I had to do was go to the AdoramaPix site, select my choices for the cover, shape, and orientation, size, paper finish, and design. They had a pre-set design for cookbooks in their food category, but I chose to design the layout myself so I could fully customize the entire recipe book. After selecting my options, I simply had to upload my photos and export my recipes and other texts in any layout I preferred using their online photo book designing tool. It was a pretty easy process.

My grand total for two 20-page recipe photo books amounted to a little over $60 (thanks to the coupon) and shipping was free for orders over $39. However, since I wanted them to arrive as soon as possible, I sprang for expedited shipping and received my own recipe books after a few days which would have been one week if I had chosen the free standard shipping.

The result? The moms were seriously impressed! They absolutely loved the idea and vowed to make their own recipe books as gifts for all their friends this Christmas. They’re meaningful, creative, and incredibly useful!



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Daily Mom
Daily Mom
Daily Mom is an online parenting magazine for women who are looking for information and education to be a better mother, parent, wife for their family. It's a combination of your favorite parenting and mom blogs, shopping, fashion and cooking Pinterest boards, parenting advice websites, how-to and DIY posts, product features and the best fashion magazines all packaged neatly into short easy to read a rticles with gorgeous photos We are a team of passionate women writers and editors on a mission to educate, inspire and help women, moms and parents all over the world by providing informational articles on all aspects of womanhood and motherhood

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