How to Make a Family Cookbook

Food is at the center of many family traditions, whether it’s a fourth of July BBQ, a religious holiday, or a birthday. Most families have a set of favorite recipes they make again and again which bring up memories of childhood and special moments.

A family cookbook captures these movements, preserving recipes that might otherwise get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. With word processing and small-scale self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to learn how to make a family cookbook. Here are a few tips to get you started.


  1. Gather, Organize, Type

Unless you’re more organized with your recipes than most of the I See Me staff, your family recipes are probably scattered throughout online files, recipe cards, an assortment of cookbooks, and pieces of paper. One of our writer’s favorite Thanksgiving stuffing recipes came home, with no explanation, as a hand-written note in his seven-year-old’s backpack. To this day no-one knows how it got there or who the recipe was meant for.

Your first step is to gather all the family recipes in one location. Ask other family members to contribute their favorite recipes as well, then organize the recipes by type. Once this is done, type them all up in a word processing document. Provide a summary of each recipe, explaining why it’s important to the family.


  1. Format Like a Pro

Create a standard format to use throughout the book, so all ingredient lists and cooking instructions follow the same pattern. Google free cookbook templates and you’ll find a multitude of possible templates online. Choose fonts that are legible and easy to read—serif fonts tend to be the best choices.


  1. Personalize

This isn’t just any cookbook. This is your family’s cookbook, and should reflect that. Name recipes after family members—Mike’s Backpack Stuffing is a much more memorable name than Sausage and Sage Stuffing, and reminds family members of the story behind the recipe. Add in family photos, funny stories about the kids, and family quotes to make the cookbook uniquely yours.

Once you’ve got everything set up, find a self-publishing company willing to print out a copy of the cookbook for each family member. Small-scale publishers are easy to find online. We recommend opting for hard cover cookbooks, which are more durable than paperbacks. It’s also a good idea to order a copy of the printer’s PDF file of the book, so you have a backup if you need one, or if you need to add more recipes to the book as time passes. And pass along what you learn—you’ve probably got friends who’d do the same, if they only knew how to make a family cookbook.

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