Updated on 07.30.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Cookbook Overload Edition

Trent Hamm

In our kitchen, we have a shelf devoted solely to cookbooks. Upon this shelf sits a hefty number of volumes, from Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything to volumes like Molto Italiano and Fast Easy Fresh.

I use these cookbooks all the time, not necessarily for strictly following recipes, but for ideas on how to start on a particular dish or how to execute a particular technique. Some of them are pretty stained-up, in fact, because they sat out on the table while I tried something new.

Anyway, my friends and family have picked up on this proclivity towards cookbooks and often give me multiple cookbooks for gift-giving occasions. This is great – I love them.

But now we’ve reached an interesting crossroads. Our cookbook shelf is now full.

So what do we do now? For now, I’ve pulled off two cookbooks that we don’t refer to very often. I’ve put them in a separate box and now we’ll see whether I ever pull them out. If several months go by and I don’t look at them, we’ll stick them out in the yard sale (they’re not the “well-used” ones mentioned above).

What happens if I do use one of them? Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Creating a plan to achieve your 2010 resolutions This is more or less a “how-to” explanation for the reolution series I’m doing this week. (@ unclutterer)

Get a Grip on Your Debt: How to Obtain a Clear, Concise Financial Snapshot I’ve been using Quicken to do this over the last month. I’ve been intending to write a review of it, but it’s really difficult. One moment, I’ll think “Wow, why did I ever use a spreadsheet?” and then a few minutes later, I’ll think “That feature’s really annoying.” (@ wise bread)

The Basic Law of Frugality “Decide what’s important to you. Give yourself permission to spend on these things. Pinch pennies on everything else.” That’s pretty spot-on. (@ get rich slowly)

Automating Your Finances Is an Expensive Mistake I don’t trust automating bills that don’t have a regular amount month in and month out. For example, our mortgage is automated but our energy bill isn’t. (@ bargaineering)

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  1. kat says:

    Trent, I solved the extra cookbook problem by making my own. When a cookbook didn’t have many recipes that interested me, I copied the ones that did, and traded or sold the cookbook. I have a three ring binder with plain college ruled paper for many recipes and some clear sheets for recipe cards and cut outs from magazines.

  2. Jon says:

    I must be too much of a hoarder to get rid of my cookbooks. There are only two or three that get used regularly, but I know the other “specialty” ones are there, for when I want to use them. Most of the time, though, I just google a dish that’s new to me. Maybe next summer’s yard sale…

  3. Battra92 says:

    I’d say if you do use them, you can always copy out the recipes.

    I’m trying to figure out the best way of storing my Cooks Illustrated without them getting wrecked. I think Kat’s biner solution of copied recipes is what I’ll end up doing …

  4. DivaJean says:

    I’m all about the binder as well- unless you have one or two books that really hit home.

    For us- its “Those People at That Church” (a Lutheran church in San Francisco that made their own cookbook) and the big red and white (? Better Homes and Gardens) cookbooks. The soups and casseroles of the first book are not to be believed! And the latter has all the basics.

    This being said- we are always in the flux of weeding the cookbooks out. I am attracted to crockpot cookbooks and find them easily at yardsales, church bazaars, etc for under a dollar– and end up using maybe one or two recipes from each book. I feel a resolution coming on for me…

  5. Stephan F- says:

    We have 6 cookbook shelves and while there are some that we hardly ever use, There are all kinds of good ideas floating in them. We have most of a shelf for just Cook’s Illustrated.

    We usually just copy out the recipe we are going to use and magnet them to the fridge when cooking them so the books don’t get soiled. It also builds up into our own favorite recipe book.

    You can your own cookbook just by turning to your most stained pages and copying them out.

  6. Laura In Atlanta says:

    Uh . . . get another bookshelf? ;-)

  7. Maureen says:

    Since you had aspirations to start a cooking blog, it might be a good idea to hang onto them a little while.

  8. guinness416 says:

    My mum has had this problem for a long time – she’s an extremely accomplished cook, has accumulated many many cookbooks and even more recipe clippings etc and yet people still give her cookbooks as gifts every year! Why god only knows, she could write one herself at this point. Most of them are rarely if ever opened. She feels bad about regifting though; the yard sale seems like a good idea.

  9. kat says:

    the comment “get another bookshelf” made me laugh, Cookbooks are about the only books I can get rid of. When my book collection got too big for my space, I moved to a bigger apartment.

  10. Michele says:

    I’d be happy to take any extra cookbooks off your hands- I have 8 shelves of cookbooks, use or peruse them for ideas frequently and love searching for new ones at garage sales or used bookstores!
    I am also know as quite an accomplished cook- because I frequently consult my cookbooks to create new recipes- frugal and dazzling, of course:)
    SAVE THEM TRENT!!! You never know when something will be just the thing for dinner or company!!

  11. I cook all the time without a cookbook or recipe book. it’s just fine.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  12. Pat says:

    I have found that most cookbooks that cross my path only have a few recipes that I actually use. I solved this by xeroxing the ones I like, sliding them into those plastic sleeves and putting them in a large 3-ring black binder in my kitchen. This I refer to all the time. It contains my tried-and-true recipes. I also have an old folder that I store magazine-ripped recipes or ones that I’ve copied from library cookbooks and haven’t tried yet. Once I try them I write a comment on them (who liked it, what I would change in the future, etc) and put it in a plastic sleeve and move it to the black binder. If it wasn’t a good recipe it just gets chucked into the recycle bin. I do have a couple of ‘real’ cookbooks (Mr Food Cooks Like Momma for one) that I actually keep on my cookbook shelf. I’ve tried most of the recipes in it and they are all good, so I keep the whole thing.

  13. karyn says:

    You can resell books on Amazon pretty easily. They also help pay for the shipping. Aside from some basic cookbooks, I find that I only use a few recipes in any given book so I just copy them and move the books along.

  14. Egirl says:

    As a book lover and a foodie, I post most of my unused books on paperbackswap.com, cookbooks included. It’s free to join, but you have to do an initial post of 8 or 10 books to get started. You get credit for the initial posting — I think it’s 1 credit. Each book “costs” 1 credit (audio books cost 2). If a member requests a book from you, they spend a credit from their account and you pay to ship it to them (typically not more than $2.50). You earn a credit with each book you send.

    Conversely, if you request a book from a member, you spend one of your credits and they pay the shipping to you. This is my favorite book club. They’ve developed a great system that makes it easy to “buy and sell”. If you refer friends and they join, you get a credit.

    It’s not just for paperbacks, although hardbacks cost a little more to ship. You can always send via media mail. It takes no more than a couple of weeks for the book to arrive.

    I’m a foodie so I wish there were more cookbooks posted. I recently got a great Mark Miller salsa cookbook. Kids books are also very popular.

    Check it out. I think you’ll like it.

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