11/29/2019 – Updates to links, video, and cookbook templates.
Formatting and designing a book is never easy. They’re so much more than just words. Choices about fonts and placement and images can be overwhelming. But compiling your work is rewarding too! And so what if you’re not an author? There are so many different kinds of books you could create!
With that idea in mind, we’re going to cook up the perfect cookbook! And if you think that cooking pun was bad, well have I got something in store for you…
Make Your Own Cookbook
Creating your own cookbook is easy; much easier than you think. With this quick and easy recipe, along with our templates and guide, you’ll have a cookbook whipped up and in the ‘oven’ in no time.
Unlike the many recipes you find online, our recipe for a cookbook is just the ingredients and instructions, along with a little encouragement to spice it up. I’m not a fan of scrolling through someone’s life story just to find out what temperature to cook tamales at, are you?
We’ve got the recipe for success(fully creating a Cookbook):
Take about 20 parts family recipes
The final count is up to you. Remember that you’ll want to allow at least 2 pages for each recipe. Most likely one page with the picture of the finished meal and maybe a nice little backstory. Then another page or more with the ingredients and instructions. Flavor to taste with a variety of family favorites, being sure to either stick to a theme (The Smith Family Breakfast Extravaganza) or provide a nice balance of recipes – 5 appetizers, 8 main courses, 10 sides, 4 deserts, etc..
One super important rule: if this cookbook will be a gift for family members, make sure you get all the important family recipes in there. You do not want to face a family dinner after forgetting to put your Aunt’s famous souffle in the family cookbook. Trust me, it won’t be pretty.
Start with a recipe for your recipes
First, head over to our cookbooks page – http://cookbooks.lulu.com/ – and either download the bundle or open the template in Google Docs. I will review the MS Word file but the basic steps for adding content is the same no matter what tool you use.
You will notice we only listed two sizes, US Letter 8.5 x 11 and US Trade 6 x 9. This is because these sizes both work well for full color and are our most common sizes. While I encourage our cookbook creators to stick to these sizes, you can edit the Word or PDF files to a new size if you’d like. Just remember that these are templates to guide you.
The template is a basic two-page file. Here’s the first page of the template, viewed in MS Word:
Add a generous helping of images
Everyone knows their Grandmother’s apple pie is the best apple pie. Don’t even try to argue with me on this one.
But wouldn’t it be even more awesome if the cookbook immortalizing Grandma’s recipe had a picture of the finished product? Preferably before everyone dives into it. Or even better; you could get a picture of Grandma herself slicing apples or displaying the pie, hot and steaming out of the oven. Give your Gram a shout out. She deserves it.
Doesn’t that sound delicious?
If you’ve got the camera and the time, two pictures for every recipe is a great idea. This is more than just a list of ingredients here, you’re making a family keepsake!
You’ll see we’ve started with a placeholder image. In Word, you can right-click an image and there is a drop-down option labeled “Change Picture.” Use this command to add your own image of your dish here.
If you’ve got some Photoshop skills, it might be cool to make a collage with two or three images, but one high-resolution picture will suffice. With a cookbook, it’s always important to show readers what the final product will look like. Plus, a nice shot of the dish will entice them to get cooking!
You got those recipes – probably a combination of handwritten on yellowing paper and email or text messages from your tech savvier family members. And you’ve got pictures of various recipes and family members. Now you just have to fire up the Kitchen Aid™ mixer and blend it all to perfection.
Wait. No. Don’t do that.
My recipe metaphor is getting a bit strained. Do not – I repeat do not – put your Grandma’s Apple Pie recipe into a blender.
What you should do is type up the recipe using a template. Either one you created, or use a template from Lulu’s Cookbook page. I’m just a little biased, but I like our templates. Maybe because I helped create them? Who can know?
Be sure to clarify any confusing steps. Like when you Mom writes something like “add enough nutmeg” you might want to put a real measurement in there. You want your recipes to give plain instructions in easy to follow language.
Pro tip: Once you have your recipe written out, read your instructions and try and make it! You’ll know right away if you missed a step.
Take a minute to get all the digital images together too. Resize them to fit the page. Ideally, each recipe will have an image of the dish and those should be the same dimensions. Get the resolution standardized too (300dpi – which means dots per inch). We really want to be able to see the texture of your Mom’s mashed potatoes.
Pour mixed ingredients into a well-greased baking tin
I know, the metaphor is falling apart.
But this is the step where we put it all together!
You’ve got lots of options to use here. You can go with Photoshop or InDesign and layout the book that way too. If you’ve got the skill and time, getting into InDesign will let you make a more unique and interesting cookbook.
And if you’re a novice, that Lulu Template is a great way to get the key pieces in place using MS Word.
Take care when laying out your book to put the pictures in natural locations. Unless there’s a fantastic reason (say an inside joke?) don’t include the picture of your Dad’s Meatloaf with the recipe for your sister’s sugar cookies.
Bake at 450° for…okay don’t bake your book
This is getting silly.
Please do not cook the interior file you’re creating. I’m not even sure how you would go about doing that. But don’t. Just don’t.
Maybe instead have a look at this Guide we created to help you make an amazing cookbook. You know, while you wait for your book to finish cooking…
Finally, garnish with a simple cover
The cover is best served with a family photo on a plain background. Maybe you can list the recipes on the back. But it’s not too important. That front cover is the centerpiece.
Lulu’s cover tools allow you to design a basic cover online without a hassle.
The Finishing Touches
Maybe this all seems a little overwhelming? Take a step back and remember that a holiday cookbook is a personal gift. Something you can share with your loved ones. It comes from the heart and that makes giving one that much more fun. Don’t stress about perfect formatting or making the best cover ever.
If you need some inspiration, have a look at our Cookbooks page.
Just getting these recipes together and compiling them is an award-winning idea. Your extended family and even friends will love receiving something that reminds them of the meals you’ve shared.
Next time your Mom wants a recipe, don’t let her waste time scrolling through the beautiful rabbit hole that is Pinterest. Instead, take that opportunity to remind her why you’re the favorite child as she flips through the masterpiece you created just for her. Because you’re awesome.
Hoping to make a cookbook that’s too good to keep in the family? Check out this article from our friends over at Booklife for tips on how to serve up a self-published cookbook with all the trimmings!
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.