I'm a recipe gatherer with an elaborate electric filing system who needs to make some improvements on how I search. Right now, my filing system works as everything is categorized by recipe types such as Entrees/Chicken/Breast... with folders within Entrees containing more folders for selecting Chicken, or Beef, or Fish and so forth for each category. This has been useful when I have chicken breast thawing for dinner and I open up that folder with recipes containing my thawed meat to choose from. I tend to shy away from recipe software as I was forever inserting and exporting files as new ones came on the market. The only software I use now is used temporarily when I first find a recipe and insert it into Evernote (evernote.com) which hold pics along with the text until I try the recipe and determine if it's a keeper or not. If it's a keeper it goes into my folder system.

These files are usually in MS Word with a few in PDF files. BUT, since my recipes have grown I would like to search by ingredient within the folder. As these folders increase I'm finding I need more then what I've created.

Is anyone AWARE OF A WAY I CAN SEARCH THROUGH THESE FILES (Word/PDF) so as to identify certain ingredients? I guess I can create more folders within say my Chicken/Breast... folder system to help identify other ingredients... but I'd like to see what's out there!

Along these same lines, I would love to open a folder e.g. Entrees/Chicken/Breast and see "thumbnails" of the picture within each file... like Evernote uses! Does anyone have these capabilities in their recipe storage system?

  • Sounds like you need a document managing system with categories and tags. There are plenty of those, but I'm not familiar with any one to make a recommendation. It would still require you to enter tags, but I'm suprised that you would want to search on any ingredient. If you have just harvested garlic you don't want to find all recipes with garlic in the ingredient list, just the ones with garlic as a key ingredient and tagged as such, like garlic soup.
    – user416
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:01

3 Answers 3


I am not familiar with recipe management systems, but Elyse could help accomplish most of what you outline. Elyse is a tagging system that helps organize files on your computer. With Elyse, you could "tag" each recipe with all of its key ingredients. This would then allow you to search recipes by ingredient (or combination of ingredients) very quickly.

Since you already have folder-based organization, you can convert those folders into tags themselves. Everything in the "chicken" folder can be easily labeled with a "chicken" tag. You can also have nested tag structures if needed (e.g., Countries > States > Counties) or non-ingredient tags (entree, dessert, and so forth).

If you have Windows 7 or beyond, you can use the powerful search functionality included to scan your recipe files for ingredient keywords. You could then assign tags to the search results.


I would highly recommend PowerGrep for fine-grained searching through binary collections. PowerGrep makes lite work of this.

In the following example PowerGrep was able to find the literal string Mediator 171 times in 14 files from an initial set of 170 PDFs under 35 child directories... The search took around 1-2 seconds.



Something as simply as Agent Ransack should be sufficient for your needs. It searches both Word and PDF files and can be launched by right-clicking on the folder.

Enter the ingredients you're looking for in the Containing Text field.

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