It’s always fun to find new ways to save time and money in the kitchen. Here are two simple ideas to help reduce clutter on the counters.

Let the library store your cookbooks
During my recent fight to reduce clutter in the house, Kris pointed out that I had a shelf full of cookbooks that I rarely use. “Why don’t we get rid of some of them,” she said. “Do we really need seven Thai cookbooks?” No we don’t. But what am I going to do when I decide I want to make Thai food? I could search the internet, but I have no idea what to search for. Instead, I’m going to head to the local library.

The library is a great way to explore books of all sorts, of course, but especially cookbooks. It can be tough to tell the good cookbooks from the poor just by browsing. Sometimes you’ve got to actually prepare a couple of recipes before you know whether a particular volume is any good. By using your library’s collection, you can test-drive different cookbooks, buying only those that you will truly use on a regular basis.

My friend Joel used to do this all the time. I don’t know if he owned a single cookbook, but he was always whipping up exotic dishes out of books he had borrowed from the public library. My friend Craig once held onto a library cookbook for nearly a year!

Create a cheat sheet of your favorite recipes
Though we try new recipes from time-to-time, Kris and I tend to make the same dishes over and over. Certain recipes become favorites. Recently she’s been entering our recipe library into a computerized database. This is convenient, but I’d like a way to keep our most-often used recipes closer at hand. Amy at Angry Chicken has a clever idea that I’m going to borrow: she made a cheat sheet containing her favorite recipes.

I had all my favorite recipes handwritten on random bits of paper all over the fridge and anytime a magnet fell so did a crucial recipe, landing in dust bunny land between the fridge and the counter never to be seen again. No more, I say! … I have already thanked myself a million times for doing this and it’s only been 4 days. It’s so much cleaner there now, less visually horrible, and if the sheet falls or gets thrashed, I can just print another. Oh, look out! I could even laminate it. Crazy, I tell you!

This second tip won’t save you any money, but the first could save you plenty (if you’re a cookbook nut like me). Both can help you keep a cleaner and saner kitchen.

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