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Make a Family Cookbook

Updated on June 19, 2014

4 steps to an amazing personalized gift

Proud to say, my family can cook. My brothers are all skilled & inventive in the kitchen, my dad has many specialties, and Mom's been turning out great meals for decades. [ I won't say how many, or she'll stop cooking for me ;) ] Creating a family cookbook is on my to-do list because I want to be able to tap into all that talent on a daily basis rather than calling at the last minute to pester people with "Now how did you make those apple pancakes?" It occurred to me that other family members might feel the same way. Creating a family cookbook could be an awesome personal, budget-friendly holiday gift for everyone. It doesn't seem all that difficult...

(binder: KKG via Zazzle)

1. Collect recipes

Decide on the scope for your effort (will you include recipes from just your parents and siblings? or go broader and ask aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.?). Then call or email everyone to request their favorite recipes. Be sure to give them a deadline--a couple weeks should be enough time for most to respond--and some specifics on what you're looking for.

Here's a sample email request:

Hi everybody--

I'm collecting recipes from our family and would love to include one or more of your favorites. Please email me back your recipe(s) by November 15 and include this info for each one:

~List of ingredients

~Cooking instructions, step by step, with any special tips (e.g., "cake may look underdone at first but will firm up as it sits"; "you don't have to thaw the peas first"; etc.)

~How many people the dish serves

~Roughly how long the dish takes to make: prep time and cook time

Thanks so much!

Then sit back and wait for the responses to--fingers crossed--roll in. If nobody responds, threaten to fill the book yourself with nothing but lima-bean recipes :-P

2. Print and format the recipe pages

You can cut & paste the recipe text from folks' emails into a new document using Word or another word processing program.

Or just print the email as is. (The recipes will be no less tasty with to, from, date, and email addresses on the top...and if they're bad, people will know how to reach the contributors and complain! Just kidding.)

When your pages are printed, punch each on the left margin with a 3-hole punch.

family recipe book template
family recipe book template

A Free (and Adorable!) Recipe Template

Putting this lens together, I searched online for an 8 1/2-by-11 sized recipe template that would pair well with binder-style family cookbooks. I found some card templates, but very few full-page designs. So I asked Kristen of Domestifluff, a fabulous blog on home cooking & crafting that also includes some topnotch graphic design, if she might take on the challenge. She agreed, and the result (above) is absolutely adorable! It's perfect not only for holiday projects but all year round. Go here to access the pdf for personal, non-commercial use. And thanks, Kristen!

3. Protect the pages (optional)

You could take the recipe pages to your local copy shop and laminate them before 3-hole-punching. Or you could just buy some standard-size, prepunched plastic sleeves. This step isn't really necessary -- some of the best recipes are splattered with chocolate, after all :-) -- but it's a nice touch if you have the time and budget.

Another "nice but not necessary" touch is tabs to separate recipe categories, such as:




Main Courses

Side Dishes


Avery Acid Free Economy Sheet Protectors, Clear, Box of 50 (74090)
Avery Acid Free Economy Sheet Protectors, Clear, Box of 50 (74090)

and protect from splatters! (it's a recipe book, after all :)


4. Bind the pages

You could have the local copy shop bind your family cookbook, but a 3-ring binder allows you to add recipes easily over time. (Your teenage niece or nephew may have no use for the kitchen right now, but in 10 years, who knows? She or he may stumble on--or create--the best 5-alarm chili recipe this side of the Pecos.)

I'm really excited about the new custom binders Zazzle is offering through a partnership with Avery. With help from my kids, who provided the artwork, I designed these binders for family cookbooks--all of which can be personalized on the back:

Number 1 has a festive look, with nontraditional colors. I personalized this for several of the kids' teachers.

Number 2 is more traditional, but still fun & playful.

Number 3 is for the family that doesn't mind making a statement.

Number 4 is for an all-desserts cookbook (mmmmmm).

Finally, number 5 is a gift for the non-cook! Collect local takeout menus and 3-hole-punch them for this binder. Way better than a junk drawer overflowing with crumpled menus. (Not that I have any, uh, personal experience with that...)

Help me decide?

Which of the above binders should I pick for my family this Christmas?

See results

More personalized binders

I especially like binders that can be easily personalized with a name or family name, like these:

How about it--have I inspired you to put together a family cookbook? Or nudge someone else in the family to do it?


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    • profile image

      MintySea 5 years ago

      I should make a family cookbook what a cool idea

    • profile image

      seajay 5 years ago

      Great subject, cooking is one of my favourite things to do. I have heaps of recipes, perhaps I should try something like this! And some handed down from my grandmother and mother.

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 5 years ago

      I've been involved in several cookbook projects, and illustrated one, but we've never done a family cookbook. You should see my recipes! I have dozens of cookbooks, recipe cards, and copies of recipes slipped in cookbooks. It all needs to be organised! I bought large photo books one year to place my recipe cards in the sleeves, but I'm notorious for not putting them back! My older son's senior ag-business class did a cookbook. They each picked a main course, and prepared it in class. Class was right before lunch, so they served it to their class. Then the recipes were bound. The idea was the kids would have a cookbook to take to university. My son served homemade pizza and blueberry crisp. He made the dough at home, then showed the class how to make the dough and let it rise in class while preparing the pizza. They cooked it in the school kitchen. His senior class had 27 kids, and not all were in this class, so it was do-able. It was all done like a cooking show. I thought it was a really neat idea. My boys are good and creative cooks.....I attribute to the Italian genes, but I know it's not necessarily that!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Great lens.... great idea... ~blessed~

    • shellyart lm profile image

      shellyart lm 5 years ago

      What a fantastic idea, great lens!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      This is a great make a family cookbook. :)

    • profile image

      RecordLady 5 years ago

      What a great idea. Thank you.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      Very creative, thanks! =)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for the free template. It's exactly what I was looking for. I have 3 grown daughters that I plan to compile by recipes for, in a binder unique to each of them. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      MK2020 5 years ago

      Hello Katty,

      Thank you for the comments on my lens. You can find a 15 minute recipe from here;

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      @Countryluthier: free ideas for ... ?

      thx for the visit & comment!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Very creative ideas, throw in a hundred or so free ideas and you have a deal! Great lens for all of us.

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 6 years ago

      Great gift idea! Nice lens.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      Very nice idea! I have something like it but not so fancy...

    • profile image

      braidhairextensions 6 years ago

      Personalized gifts are always liked because they are unique to the receiver. Nice lens..

      Remy Hair Extensions

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i love this lens! keep it up!


      get the perfect DIY conservatory to improve the look and feel of your home!

    • profile image

      writywrite 6 years ago

      Well done, very interesting, love it..

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 6 years ago from USA

      Yummy...simple and sweet...and **angel blessed**! Thanks!

    • profile image

      youngward 6 years ago

      well written. nice and detailed


      Cash Cookbook

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 6 years ago

      Interesting lens and yep every family should've their own cookbook. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. So often recipes disappear with the generation, a family cookbook is the perfect way to preserve the memories and the recipes.

      5 Minute Brownie in a Mug...yum!

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 6 years ago

      Awesome lens... thanks... great recipes too!

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      It's not easy, but I think to create a family cookbook with all the vegan and natural foods meals. thanks.

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Wonderful! We do love our family cookbook. Lensrolling to my family cookbook lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Nice idea for a job many of us need to put in order.

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      BW Duerr 7 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      What a great idea. My daughters wold love the recipes they grew up eating from our kitchen. Lensrolled to all my recipe lenses.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 7 years ago from Concord VA

      This is a great idea! And, I agree with Sylvestermouse, it would make a nice wedding gift for the new member of the family.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      This is a wonderful idea! What a fabulous gift idea too! I can just imagine what a treasure and keepsake this would be for a new bride. Most Excellent!!! Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens.

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      Love this. Thanks for the great idea.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I really like this idea, it sounds like so much fun. :D

    • profile image

      Jellyrolldesigns 7 years ago

      Very Nice and imformative lens!

    • profile image

      postage_freak 7 years ago

      5 stars! Nicely done - great gift ideas!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      I've been wanting to do this! Great lens.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      Love your binders and tips for saving and sharing recipes. Putting it all together in a cool customized family binder is a great idea for a holiday or wedding gift. Gonna get started on some for our family this year.

    • Bemused in Tasm profile image

      Bemused in Tasm 7 years ago

      Terrific Lens! My sister did a family cookbook for my family a few years ago, but I'm thinking of doing one for my in-laws family. Or just for the fun of it! There are actually a lot of possibilities. Thanks so much,

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Very Creative! The recipe binders look awesome. :)

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      wonderful, personalized, thoughtful gift idea.

    • pussycat lm profile image

      pussycat lm 7 years ago

      Our daughter in law grew up with her grandparents which were overprotective and never let her cook - so I handmade her a book with all of our family recipes, especially our son´s favourites, three years ago. Wish Zazzle had had those great binders then - would have saved me a lot of work :-)

      Great lens - 5* and faved/lensrolled.

      Hilly aka felidae52

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 7 years ago

      I love the new Zazzle binders...yours are awesome! Nice idea for Christmas...

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 7 years ago

      I really need to have a family recipe book. Great ideas and a great lens! 5 *'s

    • profile image

      Sketchart26 7 years ago

      Very enjoyable lens nice work. Love the designs,

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 7 years ago

      Everyone should have a family recipe book....I made one when my friend's Mom past away suddenly. I realized at that point that none of us had picked our Mom's brain or gotten her recipe box and organized a book. Gave one to my Mom and all my siblings for xmas one year. They loved it and she loved that her recipes were organized all in one spot. 5* and fav'd.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I fave'd and lensrolled it too.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Darling, darling, darling.

      I live the "Make Food Not War" the best! Too cute! 5*