DIY: Recipe Boxes

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I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned this before but, I can’t cook. I’m crafty and resourceful and a damn good baker and all, but I am basically useless when it comes to preparing actual meals. Were it not for a string of roommates who were both generous and more culinarily-minded than I, I would have starved to death years ago. Or… you know, perhaps something less dramatic.

Anyhow, thanks to those aforementioned ladies and a Real Simple magazine subscription from last Christmas, I can now cook like… four things with varying degrees of success. That must make me almost a functional adult, right? If you perhaps also have a few recipes to keep in order, or maybe you just want to make a gift to thank some epicurean friends for feeding you, then whip up a quick DIY recipe box. It’s gotta be easier than baking a pie, right?

Basic, cut-and-paste decoupage will fix up any basic box shape handily, just cut some paper, spread some Modge Podge and smooth. Embellish as needed: ribbon or fabric is a nice touch, as is lettering. This painted box is lovely – and could probably be recreated with a stencil or some lace.

If that’s not your style, then upcycle a box or carton into a custom recipe box. Office stores have mesh containers and hinged boxes up to the task; think craigslist, flea markets, garage sales and antique stores for things you can upcycle such as card catalogues, wine boxes, lunch boxes (So. Cute.). Really, anything box-like that can hold 3 x 5 cards will work here, but don’t forget – inside the box you’ll need notecards for the recipes themselves; check online at great places like Etsy and Apartment Therapy (or search for free) to grab templates.

Alternate options include upcycling a standing or pocket photo album, or using a binder to make a recipe book – which can be easily made spill-proof. Bonus. Recipe books are pretty much just filling a binder, but don’t use easy assembly as an excuse to be boring. It’s pretty easy too polish up some pages in Photoshop, or you can consider putting all the pages in protective plastic sheets so that they’re easily wiped down. An oilcloth cover can guard the outside of the book. Or, if you’re handy with a needle-and-thread, embroider a cute cover. Not crafty? Make the cover of your book from cereal boxes and stamps and fill with torn out magazine pages and collages. This how-to adds space on the back of the recipes for the chef to rank and review the results.

Images courtesy,,,

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Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

Amber Bouman - Crafty & Cashless

A freelance writer, blogger and poet based in San Francisco, Amber has written for PC World, InfoWorld, and the 16th & Mission Review. She has performed at City Hall, Litquake, the Brainwash, 16th & Mission, BlueSix, and SFSU among other places. Amber is also consummate fan of swearing, organizational freak, yoga practitioner, music geek, caffeine addict, and tattoo enthusiast who enjoys platform shoes, making out, thumb wrestling and fighting the good fight. She owns a bicycle named Gretel, a motor scooter named Elroy and a cat named Simon. She can be found in various virtual locations all over your interwebs.