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Kevin-Barry Henry

How to Preserve Your Family Recipes for Generations

By: Kevin-Barry Henry, #1 Bestselling Author

My mother was a wonderful cook and she could also bake so well that she could have opened her own bakery. I have so many memories of coming home from school and walking through the front door of our home and being greeted with the sound of her humming or signing in the kitchen and the warm smell of something so delicious my mouth would begin to water before my shoes were off.

My mother loved being in the kitchen and it was obvious with just one bite of whatever she chose to put on the menu that day. We were treated to so many delicious meals and Sunday night was usually reserved for something a little fancy that my mom would often début for us, followed by a scrumptious dessert. She loved putting delicious food into our bellies and we sure didn’t mind either.

Both my grandmothers were also amazing cooks and we were always lucky to treated to tasty meals and treats any time we would visit which was often.

It can be hard to preserve the scent that I experienced walking through our front door as a child, but what about the cooking legacy my mom created over her years in the kitchen?  What is the best way to try and recreate her meals and desserts?

My mom was like her own mother and she cooked from memory and feel more than recipes, but she did have a cookbook. I can still see it my mind’s eye. Red and thick the size of an encyclopedia but the pages within it are not all that it contained. There were newspaper recipes she clipped out the food section of the weekend newspaper. There were magazine pages folded in four and stuffed in between the pages of her red cookbook. There were hand-written 3×5 cards covered in flour and sauce. It was a filing cabinet more than a recipe book and we all knew something special was in store when we saw it dragged out from the bottom drawer where it was stashed in her kitchen.

My mother probably never thought much of preserving her cooking legacy by archiving her recipes because she left us at such a young age, but if that is a lesson then we all should try and learn something from it.

If your family’s recipes sound anything like my mom’s recipes, then you should think about some way to collect your recipes so that people can enjoy them for years to come. It can be a really fun project, and it also makes a wonderful gift or several wonderful gifts.

There are a few was that you might want to think about and explore when it comes to preserving your family recipes and we will look at them here. You can also add a section to your estate organizer that will help protect your recipes when you or parents or grandparents might no longer be with us.

Save the originals

The first and likeliest place to start is to keep the originals. In most cases they a “guideline” because many people cook by feel, as my mom and grandmothers did, but they are excellent sources. I find this to be the coolest version since you can often find stains and floor and handwritten notes on the pages, or cards that give subtle hints of what was going on in the chef’s mind. In many cases, these cards or pages have been shared through generations and the paper has yellowed, has torn the ink has faded.

Like anything, the proof is quite literally in the pudding and recipes are no different, but it is important to keep them safe from sustaining any damage and still use them as useful tools. Proper archiving is important. The best way to keep these treasures protected is to use archival clear plastic pocket pages that, often called archival print pages. They can be stored in a 3-ring binder or a slipcase. They are readily available at most larger stationery stores or online with a little clicking. It is a great way to see the original and make sure it stays protected.

Your family recipes can also be individually protected and preserved in archival plastic bags, all of which can be stored in acid-free boxes to help preserve them for generations to come

You can also add them to your Estate Organizer, but the drawback is you can’t share them as there is only one copy. Still, you will have preserved the originals and that is the main thing.

Once that task has been accomplished, you can work on a few other ideas.

Scan and reproduce

Once you have all the recipes together and protected, you can go about making copies so other people can enjoy them. A great way to do that is to make copies or scan the recipes and reproduce your own family “cook book”. You can then place the copies in a binder that you can share.

Another way to use the files on your computer is to burn DVDs that you can then distribute to as many people as you choose.

Again the stationery store will have all the tools you need to get this done, and some cases, if you want to spend a little more, you can have them print and bind them into a real book. They make a great gifts for the holidays that your family will cherish. You can even name it something fun like “Mom’s Awesome Recipes” or something a little more creative, if you like.

Make it digital

As with most things today, there is probably an App for that. Saving recipes is basically just an archive, so with a few more clicks and scans, you can find a place on the cloud to store your family recipes in perpetuity. This is certainly the most efficient way to share the recipes with anyone you think would appreciate them.


If your parents or grandparents are anything like my mom was, they probably like to cook or bake from the seat of their pants. They have probably made the recipes dozens or hundreds of times and know them inside out. That could mean that the version of the recipe they produce today may not be exactly like what is written on the 3×5 card in the binder.

The best way to capture the nuances might be in your pocket. Yes the smartphone camera (or any camera) will make an excellent video and you need not spend loads of money on production. You can make it fun and funny too. What a great way to save your family meals as a legacy for the generations to come.

Try to ask any question that pops into your head, and if you can, try out the recipe yourself once or twice and go back for another round of questions before finalizing the recipe video.

There are a few online tools that can even help you edit the video in any way you choose, then you can store them online for all to enjoy.

In my family’s case, we can’t save the smell and the sounds of my mom preparing a delicious dish in our home kitchen, but we can still enjoy the food she lovingly prepared for us because of her old red cook book, and wish you the same happiness.

With Gratitude,

Kevin-Barry Henry.

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