Last year, I gave my best friend a handmade cookbook filled with recipes from our favorite blogs and little stories and quotes. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but she was completely head-over-heels in love with it. I was in love with it, too-- to the point that I want to make one for myself!
Here’s the thing with giving your family or friends custom cookbooks: you can tailor it exactly to their needs and likes. For young adults living on their own for the first time, you could fill a book with “beginner” recipes and cooking tips and tricks. The friend who just found out they have a wheat allergy would love a cookbook full of wheat-free recipes. Extended family would be thrilled to receive a book full of grandma’s best recipes. I think you see where I’m going with this.
Here’s my gift to you this week: I tested 5 tutorials, products and programs that help you create your own cookbooks so that you don’t have to. Below, I compare the pros, cons and overall costs for each.
What: Personalized cookbook filled with your favorite recipes and decorated to fit the recipient’s personal style.
Cost: $10-50, depending on materials used
Pros: Fully customizable. Could include photos. Depending on materials used, could be very cost-effective. Handcrafted (by you!).
Cons: Takes time to put together. Not as “professional” looking as some of the other options.
Cost: $19.95-34.95 + shipping
Pros: Looks professional and like a “real” cookbook. Ring-bound so you can add more pages later. Can include photos. The database already has many cookbook and magazine recipes for you to choose from, or you can enter your own. Free to design.
Cons: Can’t customize the cover or section dividers. Can’t change the “categories”/chapters, making this a more limited option for vegetarian cookbooks or subject-specific books such as holiday or dessert recipes. Recipes are printed back-to-back alphabetically in each chapter, so you can’t reorder the recipes. Limited layout options.
Cost: $19.95-34.95 + shipping
Pros: Can customize the cover, categories/chapters, and the order of recipes and pages. Looks professional and like a “real” cookbook. Free to design. Can include photos. Can be made as a "group project" so all your friends and family members can contribute.
Cons: Writer has not been able to verify quality of final product. Can’t insert photos into recipe pages (Instead, photos must be a separate page with full-size photo).
Cost: $10.95-$105.95 + shipping
Pros: Can customize the cover, categories/chapters, and the order of recipes and pages. Looks professional and like a “real” cookbook. Free to design. Can include photos, quotes, memories or stories wherever you'd like. The design software has many page layout options to choose from, or you can design your own. User-friendly design software.
Cons: Have to download the design software (but it is free).
Cost: $20.15 + shipping
Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials. Comes from a small business. Lots of flexibility and recipient can add their own memories and favorite recipes. Ring bound so that more pages or other mementos can be added. Can be gifted blank, partially filled out or completely filled out. Could include photos. Small size (5.5x4") makes it a great stocking stuffer. In addition to recipe cards, the journal includes journaling pages with prompts and quotes and fun little extras like envelopes and dividers.
Cons: not the typical “cookbook” with printed recipes, etc; if gifting partially or completely filled, need to leave yourself time to fill it out. Not as “professional” looking as some of the other options.