Finding New Recipes, Without Paying for New Cookbooks

by Thursday Bram on 15 January 2008 16 comments

I have a hard time resisting the urge of buying every cookbook that comes along — I thoroughly enjoy trying out new recipes, especially cookies. I came to the conclusion, though, if I bought every cookbook that caught my eye, I wouldn’t have any money left over for ingredients.

Instead, I try to find recipes for free — another exercise in creating a frugal kitchen. The resources below are a great starting point for putting together a personal recipe book, but I’d love to hear if you’ve got any resources!

Friends and Family
: I have a copy of my great-grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I’ve managed to convince many relatives to send me copies of their recipes. I’ve even managed to talk my friends into sharing recipes with me, although I often have to put something on the table though — in my case, I’ve been able to trade my godmother’s Swiss Christmas cookie recipes for just about anything.

The Library
: I live near one of the smaller branches of the local public library. Just because the branch is small, though, doesn’t mean that they’re not well-stocked. Judging by catalog searches, they probably have 300 cookbooks at any time, and access to many more, through the rest of the library district, and through inter-library loan. If I dedicated some time to the matter, I don’t doubt that I could get a copy of any cookbook through my local library.

Blogs: I have a personal favorite when it comes to blogs. Baking Bites always has amazing recipes, including a recipe for DIY Thin Mints for those of us unwilling to be beholden to Girl Scouts for our cookie fixes. But there are thousands of quality cooking blogs — it’s just a matter of searching for a blogger with similar cooking interests to your own.

The Rest of the Web
: Every cooking show seems to have its own website, complete with recipes. Family tree enthusiasts collect recipes that are part of their family traditions. Cultural groups post recipes for anyone’s use. There are amazing cooking resources online, almost all of which are free. My personal recommendations:

  • RecipeTrove (especially if you’re trying to recreate a restaurant’s ‘secret’ recipe)
  • Epicurious (a great general database of recipes with holiday and special event menus perfect for adapting)

Now that you have a huge list of recipes, it’s just a matter of deciding which you plan to try out, and organizing all of your recipes. I use a three ring binder, personally. My mother uses a journal that she copies recipes into, though, and my grandmother uses a recipe card box. I think every cook has his or her own system to swear by!

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Myscha Theriault's picture

I've had to start using those sources too, Thursday. Confession? I'm a total recipe slut. Don't tell anybody, OK?

Thursday Bram's picture

I'll keep it quiet, Myscha... unless you have any really good recipes to trade?

Myscha Theriault's picture

. . . and I'm always up for a good recipe swap. One of the few "chain letter / email" things I'll participate in.

Good to have another food enthusiast on board! BTW, have you checked out any of Linsey's food posts? She's got some awesome ones, too.

Thursday Bram's picture

I'm gonna wander on over to the forums and start a recipe swap thread, if anyone's interested!

And, Myscha, I agree — Linsey does have some tasty treats!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Oooo . . . oooo . . . I'm in. Be right there!

Guest's picture
Guest

I recommend recipesource.com.

Myscha Theriault's picture

Recipe source is a good one. I agree.

Guest's picture
Barbara

Some really great recipes, difficulty ratings, etc. Plus a lot of tips and information.

I have hit some recipes though that (if you cook a lot) were wrong--measurements, ingredients, etc.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

My favorite recipe sites online are:

recipezaar, which has both a huge stockpile of recipes and can "drill down" to a very particular type of recipe with amazing granularity (by ingredients, appliance, time to make, dietary restrictions, cuisine, etc.), plus ratings and so on (the downside is that all this functionality makes it a slow process sometimes)

and

cooks.com, which has fewer features, but which is the quickest place to go with a very particular list of ingredients--a great aid to the frugalista trying to use up odds-n-ends, garden bonanzas, etc.

Guest's picture
RoSco

Cooking Magazine websites ss. uch as Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country often offer a new free recipe every week or so.

Guest's picture
Guest

...Happy! Tastes Like Happy is neat receipe sharing site, though it's lacking a bit on the content right now.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love www.allrecipes.com

Jen

Guest's picture
Ginny

I love to read cookbooks, so I usually buy them for very little at the Half Price Books clearance shelf (Like $1).
For a recipe, though, I just Google what I want, or I put in the ingredients I have to work with and see what comes up that sounds good.

Guest's picture
tricia

I love epicurious.com -- most of the recipes come from magazines like Bon Appetit, Cooks, and Gourmet, as well as healthy living sources. The user reviews on this site are usually very good as well.

Thursday Bram's picture

Magazines are almost as hard for me to avoid buying as cookbooks. They always have such amazing pictures of the final product — whether or not the recipe actually ever turns out like that. 

Guest's picture
Dee

Thanks for your blog. I, too, have been living large on a small budget (and now I'm fashionably "green" for doing it.)

I finally can share something. I've written a few books, but my most recent project was a fun community cookbook/oral history/nostalgic photo book I did for a small village in upstate New York. (Sackets Harbor) I'm posting the recipes and the blog is all about how to write a community cookbook.

I want to pass on what I've learned--and not learned--to anyone else thinking about it.
So, check it out http://www.deebuckingham.blogspot.com and it is FREE!
Dee Buckingham