iStock_000018941572XSmallIt’s one of the perennial kitchen problems: how to keep your recipes straight. Do you always forget which book that favorite hors d’oeuvre is in? Or always find yourself rifling through a drawer stuffed with printouts when you decide to make those awesome cookies? Well, you’re not alone.

What is the best way to organize this mess and have the recipes you use most easily at hand? There are as many specific solutions as there are cooks, but most of them fall in three categories: (1) keep it on paper, (2) go digital, and (3) open an app.

Keep it on paper

Your first priority should be organizing your cookbooks. This can be done alphabetically or by category, author, type of food, etc. Consider marking the pages that hold your favorite recipes using Book Darts or some other system.

Once you’ve got the books under control, wrangle all those stray recipes printed from the Internet and clipped from magazines. A popular organizational method is to arrange them in a three-ring binder with tabbed sections for types of food, such as soups, salads, entrees, sides, and desserts. Use plastic page protectors to keep them from being ruined as you work.

There are also ready-made binders systems that will save you some hassle. Try the C.R. Gibson Pocket Page Recipe Book or the Gallery Leather Recipe Organizer.

Go digital

If your books take up too much space, go digital. Scan the recipes you use most into your computer and then give the books away. Most people only use a few recipes from any given book, anyway. You can also scan recipes from library books into your digital collection.

Another option is to type recipes into word processing files, and/or insert your scanned documents into these files. You can even keep your docs online using Google Docs, where you can save them in collections by category. You’ll have access to your recipe collection anywhere.

Open an app

There are several apps that hit the mark. One of them is designed specifically for this purpose: Paprika Recipe Manager. Not only does Paprika manage your recipes, it also helps you keep track of your grocery list.

Springpad is good for organizing your own digitized collection as well as recipes you’ve found online. You can clip and save items from the Web, as well as add your own hand-written notes, scanned documents, and photos.

Evernote is a popular organization app that also allows you to clip and attach Web items. Organizing your items into notebooks can be a good way to organize recipes. You can also share things easily with friends.

How do you organize your recipes?