2 Pounds Lost in 8 Hours!


recipes for reduction

Urgency Day 284

500 Things Items 214-15: 2 lbs. of Recipes

  • History: Years of clipping, copying and even some cooking
  • Value: A few meals, a few mishaps; much mind-changing
  • Parting Pain: None, and I hope no future regret
  • Un-possessing: Recycle bin

It’s become a cliché:

If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. Here’s a variation to try:  If you haven’t cooked it in a year, get rid of it. The recipe, that is.

Back in June, I reported the weight of my 6 recipe albums. Albums, not cookbooks:  My scrupulously organized, individually-sheet protected, lovingly annotated, ridiculously cumbersome collections of printed recipes and clippings which Paul and Sam know I will risk life and culinary limb to rescue in a fire.

26.2 pounds.

In June, my recipes weighed 26.2 pounds. On November 6th, they weighed 27.1 pounds. This is not a sustainable trend.

Last weekend, while watching old movies (It’s a Wonderful World with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert) and sports (I finally like that punk, Landon Donovan), I spent about 8 hours pouring over my recipes. I had one goal in mind: reduction. I intended to be ruthless, to trim the fat—so to speak—in my culinary collection:

  • Just because Gourmet magazine no longer exists doesn’t mean I have to be its archivist;
  • Old splatters and smudges wouldn’t tug at me;
  • Achingly seductive food photos? Well, let’s just say it’s much easier to stare them down on a full stomach— which I happily maintained the entire time.

The only things off-limits were family recipes. And they weigh a combined 1 ounce, not counting the 12 ounce one from “Grandma Nestle Tollhouse.”

Easiest category to reduce: Beef

And not simply because of my recent adoption of a vegetarian diet; I am still feeding 2 carnivores. Even when I was eating beef, we didn’t eat that much of it. I’ve saved a few classics such as beef stew, pot roast, and Mom’s vegetable beef soup— my family’s traditional Christmas Eve supper. But even conjuring them now doesn’t make me salivate. I think I really must be shifting taste-gears.

Most difficult category to reduce: Mexican

Didn’t I read recently that Mexican cuisine has overtaken Italian as the one most preferred by Americans? [Is anyone else seeing the irony?] Besides being delicious, Mexican recipes are fantastically adaptable for our resident meat and plant eaters.

Don’t downsize the frijoles!

Someday, I hope, I will have a laptop in my kitchen. Then I can simply log on to Kara’s An Hour in the Kitchen for the recipe I want to prepare. No sheet-protected paper required. And I know I really should scan my recipes and put them all on a flash drive. They would certainly be safer from Devastation and would definitely be less burdensome—at least after 26 pounds of scanning was accomplished. Someday, probably, this will happen.

The final reduction came in at approximately 210 recipes, or 2 pounds of clippings plus the weight of sheet protectors. It feels liberating, similar to the culling I’m doing of my kitchen tools, not to mention the rest of my stuff. Streamlining, simplifying, downsizing to what I truly use and value.

Recipes, it seems, are a lot like clothes: we use 10% of them 80% of the time.

So why do I still have 25 pounds of recipes?


6 Responses to “2 Pounds Lost in 8 Hours!”

  1. kara Says:

    Awww, I’m going to come up with some delicious GF and veggie recipe just for you! Stay tuned!

    I love that you weighed the recipes! I hope it was on a kitchen scale. One of my goals to to organize all of my clippings. I have two over-stuffed binders and a nice big empty one waiting and waiting and waiting.

  2. sthibeault Says:

    It was on a kitchen scale! If you create a recipe for me, I’ll organize your recipes for you. No waiting.

  3. boysgonewild Says:

    My recipe binders need similar downsizing. They are chock full of things I don’t cook.


  4. sthibeault Says:

    How much do your binders weigh? It may make you feel better when they don’t weigh 25 lbs!

  5. melanie Says:

    I’m going straight to my kitchen now to thin the herd!

  6. melanie Says:

    Done. Got rid of 6 main dishes. Kept ALL desserts. Found recipes that I can actually USE this week! Thank you Suzanne!

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