I have a friend who is a foodie. She loves to cook and is always making new things. I was at her house the other day and I noticed the (literally) hundreds of cookbooks she has in the house. When I commented how many she had, she said, “Yeah, and it’s cost me a fortune. But I can’t find recipes that I like anywhere else.” With all the sources of free recipes out there these days, I found this hard to believe. Recipes are everywhere you look. You no longer have to buy expensive cookbooks to get good recipes. If you love to cook but wonder where you can find free and cheap recipes, here are some ideas.
Manufacturer web sites: Almost all of the major food manufacturers keep recipes that use their products on their websites. If you have a favorite food, check the website to see if there are any good recipes there.
Packaging: Product packages frequently contain recipes. They may be on the outside of the box, under the label, or inside the box.
Magazines: If you already subscribe to magazines, chances are that some of them contain recipes. Even magazines that don’t have cooking content may have ads with recipes. If you don’t subscribe to any magazines, you can probably find free magazines at your library or get discards from friends and family.
Cookbooks from the library, book sales or used bookstores: You don’t have to buy full priced cookbooks. Check your library first. Even if you photocopy several recipes out of a book, you’ll pay far less than you would if you bought the whole book new. Hand copying saves even more money. If you must buy a book, check used bookstores, yard sales, and book sales. Cookbooks turn up frequently in these places.
Family and friends: Family is a great source for recipes. Chances are your mother, grandmother, aunt, or sister has a lot of cookbooks you can borrow and she probably has a box of family recipes, as well. If she makes something you like, ask for the recipe. The same holds true for your friends.
Food Bloggers: There are literally thousands of food bloggers that cover every type of recipe imaginable for free. If you have a special diet, have food allergies or simply want to eat in a certain way, there is a food blogger out there that is probably right up your alley.
Food TV shows and associated web sties: There are many cooking shows on TV. You can either write down the recipe as the show goes along, or visit the show’s website after the show to get a printable version.
Recipe web sites: There are zillions of recipe web sites. You can find sites that offer recipes for specific ingredients, low-carb, vegetarian, low-calorie, diabetic, and many other special needs. Simply Google what you want or need to make and you’ll get lots of options. Recipematcher is useful for matching ingredients you already have in your pantry to a good recipe.
Restaurants: Some restaurants give away the recipes for their signature dishes. At several places I frequent, they give you a card when they bring the bill that shows the recipe for their signature soup, dip, dressing, or appetizer. Some restaurants also post their recipes on their websites.
Newspapers: Your local paper often contains recipes, often using local ingredients or featuring local specialties. Our paper also runs classic favorites from time to time.
Churches and clubs: A popular fundraiser around here is the church or club cookbook. Every year the ladies of these organizations put together a small book with their favorite recipes. The book costs very little, and the money goes to the church or club fund.
Podcasts: There are many free cooking podcasts available through iTunes and other websites. Quality and usefulness varies greatly, but it can give you something to check out while you commute to work.
Grocery store websites: More and more stores are posting recipes on their websites. Whole Foods is a good example, but your local store probably offers recipes, as well.
Video games and DVD’s: If you already own some fitness video games (such as Biggest Loser, My Fitness Coach 2, etc.), you can find healthy recipes in the games. Some fitness DVD’s also have recipes.
Recipes are everywhere. Once you start looking for them, you’ll find them popping up on and in almost everything food-related. There’s no need to pay for expensive cookbooks, unless you want to. Once you’ve got all your recipes, you’ll need to find a good way to organize them so you can get maximum use out of them. A three-ring binder or recipe box can really come in handy to organize your free treasures.