How to Prepare Family Recipes for the Next Generation

Old Recipe on Index Card

Like most of you, I have been handed down worn out, stained and discolored handwritten or typed index cards of recipes that are important to my family. Whether the role of Family Historian has been bestowed upon you or not, these old time-tested recipes probably have some meaning to you and your family and are worth preserving.

In addition to preserving recipes given to me, I want to be sure that the passing of my own recipes down from generation to generation isn’t something that dies in the digital age.

Imagine handing your children a thumb drive of recipes or sharing with them a Pinterest board or bookmarks from Allrecipes or the Food Network. It just doesn’t have the same sense of significance or permanence. These technologies may represent how we source and store recipes just as the index cards from generations prior did, but it just feels lackluster.

Nothing beats my grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie recipe that she found on Pinterest!

Katie and I are taking steps to ensure that we have preserved recipes given to us and that we have documented our own family recipes in a meaningful format that can be passed down to our children. What follows is our “recipe” for preserving recipes old and new.

What you’ll need:

  1. A flatbed scanner to scan older recipes
  2. A solid data backup system
  3. Archival Paper
  4. Binder
  5. Archival Photo Mounts
  6. Archival Document Sleeves

Preserving Old Recipes

Recipes we were given have been scanned and are stored in Dropbox, on our local machines and also on a backup hard drive that we store in a fireproof box. The originals have been mounted on acid-free, 100% cotton archival paper with archival photo mounts and are stored in sleeves. If you really want to go the extra mile, store the originals in a fireproof box and put the scanned versions in your binder.

Preserving New Recipes

Our own recipes are spread across binders of magazine clippings, handwritten notes, and those printed from various websites (advertisements and all). We began by purging recipes we hadn’t made in a few years. We then rewrote and simplified the recipes we wanted to keep. Most recipes found online are horribly written and can be drastically simplified. Re-writing them in our new format also allowed us to include any slight variations we may have made to the original recipes, making them even more our own.

We then purchased a beautiful recipe template from Etsy. We re-worked each of our recipes using the template then printed them on archival paper and put them into sleeves and into a binder. The digital files were stored in Dropbox, on our local machines and also on a backup hard drive that we store in a fireproof box.