How many cookbooks do you have? None? Ten? Twenty? Two hundred? Did you buy them for yourself or were they gifted to you? Most likely, you have a combination of cookbooks that you’ve personally curated and others selected for you. So it begs the question, how many cookbooks are too many?
The answer? It depends. If you’ve taken your cookbook collection for granted, perhaps now is a good time to dust them off and reassess what you have and what you’re missing.
What type of cookbooks are you drawn to?
Let’s meander over to our bookshelf and take a gander at our cookbooks together, shall we? Do you see a pattern? Are you drawn to celebrity cookbooks or internationally focused ones? If an archeologist discovered our cookbooks, what would it say about us?
Perhaps you realized (as I have) that you have many cookbooks that you’ve never (or barely) opened and – if we’re honest with ourselves – most likely never will. Similar to clothes hanging in our bulging closets, cookbooks are often overlooked when it comes tidying.
All it takes is a little editing.
First, edit your cookbook collection.
Just like those forgotten dresses hanging in your closet or the whatamacallit gadget hanging out in the basement for “just in case,” you most likely have a few cookbooks that are hard to discard. I get it. I’m feeling ya. I do too.
Similar to the KonMari method, I recommend gathering all of your cookbooks together and group them by similar categories. Don’t forget to check your bookshelves, boxes in the basement and the forgotten cupboard in the kitchen. Unpack and stack.
Follow this simple checklist to ensure that the basics are covered. If you have multiple cookbooks in each section, pick the one that speaks to you the most.
- How-To Cookbook (1 that covers everything)
- International Cuisines (2-3 from your favorite locales)
- Desserts (1-2 that cover everything + your favorite type such as pies)
- Bread (1 that covers everything)
- Quick and Easy (1 that covers your favorite style such as one-pot)
Beyond the basics.
Once you’ve sorted out your basics, this checklist makes sure that your repertoire is diverse enough for proper inspiration.
- Regional Foods (1 with narrow focus, such as Cajun food)
- Family Favorites (1-2 that have been passed down from generations)
- Celebrity Chefs (1 that you admire, such as Ina Garten)
- Kitchen Appliance (1 for that pressure cooker or crock pot you own)
Next, gift those you aren’t keeping.
How many cookbooks do you have left after the initial edit? Do you still have some that didn’t make the checklist but that you still love? By all means, keep those… although get honest with yourself. Will you actually use them? Let’s go back to the clothes closet example… set the cookbooks aside that you think you will use and make a pile. Are you committed to cooking a recipe from it this week? If the answer is no, it may be a sign to let it go.
The obvious way to gift cookbooks is to donate them to local library or thrift store. Before you do that, I recommend taking photos of them and ask your close circle of friends and family if anyone wants one. Who knows? They may be looking for a dessert cookbook that will inspire them… and you have just the one!
Lastly, start a cookbook wish list.
Cooking and baking is a hobby that has a great outcome… you eat what you make. And, perhaps more importantly, what you make can bring joy to others. It’s the gift that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
As we cook through a cookbook, we learn. We build kitchen confidence. Ingredient confidence. And then that experience reinforces what we are drawn to so that we are a little more discerning before we lay down the next $24 or $30 bucks. A dusty cookbook does little to provide inspiration, wouldn’t you agree?
A cookbook wish list may sound too simple and a little old-fashioned. Humor me. There’s something special about researching and selecting the right one versus just going for the cheapest bargain that catches your eye.
If you’re unsure of which goes on the wish list, ask yourself, “What do I want to learn?” THAT, my friend, is answer!
I’d love to know what you personally discovered during this editing process and what you would add to the list.
Let’s get cooking!