Ok, I’ll admit it – I have a problem with food. The problem is that I love it! If you follow me on Twitter (@joshuazerkel) or on Pinterest (Joshua Zerkel), you’ve probably noticed that many of my musings are about food – what I’ve been eating and/or what I’d like to try.

I’m always interested in what’s new – and sometimes this means having lots of cookbooks around. Cookbooks are great, but just like everything else, they can become a challenge to manage if you don’t keep them organized and under control. Here are a few ideas for getting your cookbooks wrangled:

Minimize. Unlike most other things you might be keeping around, you probably can justify keeping cookbooks – after all, recipes never expire, and in theory could always be useful. That said, most people keep way more cookbooks than they could ever possibly make use of, so it’s a good idea to whittle your collection down to the ones you’d actually see yourself using in the near future (within the next six months to a year). General rule: if you’ve never made a recipe from a cookbook and you’ve had it more than a year, it’s gotta go. Also getting the boot are cookbooks that you’ve made a few recipes from and didn’t like (or are just not interested in making).

Hide. I’ve been in so many kitchens where the counters have been overrun by cookbooks, ironically making it hard to actually use the counters to prepare food! Unless you’re cooking from cookbooks every day, they don’t need to be taking up valuable counter space. Move them to a bookshelf in or adjacent to the kitchen, or put them in a pantry nearby. A great space saver is to install a sturdy shelf above the kitchen door and store your cookbooks there – they’re still accessible, but out of the way.

Digitize. Like a great many other forms of information, recipes and entire cookbooks can now be accessed digitally. In addition to websites from nearly every food magazine, there are specialty websites like Epicurious that are treasure troves of recipes and food ideas. You can buy digital versions of your favorite cookbooks online, and access them on your computer or tablet (and even your smartphone). If you have an old laptop that’s been collecting dust in the closet, breathe new life into it by keeping it in the kitchen (away from water, of course!) and using it solely as a recipe database.

Cooking can be a lot of fun, and having recipes to try can give you inspiration to whip out the pots and pans. What are your ideas for organizing your cookbooks? Sound off in the comments.

Joshua Zerkel