my autumn kitchen journal, the cover has beautiful art of a pumpkin pin, bowl of nutmeg shells, cinnamon sticks and 2 large pumpkins

How to Create Your Own Traditional Foods Kitchen Journal

Today, in the Kitchen Journal series, I’d like to share with you how to create a kitchen journal. I started my own traditional foods kitchen journal the year before the pandemic and it’s become a cherished part of my homemaking journey. 

Every homemaker, regardless of whether you work from home, outside of the home, or if your primary duty is the home, you would benefit from keeping one.

 Jump to Creating a Kitchen Journal

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click, I may make a commission at no cost to you. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details.

What is a Kitchen Journal?

You may have heard of a kitchen journal on social media or in a historical homemaking book, but what exactly is it? How does it apply to traditional foods cooking? And is it only for your favorite recipes?

I know what you are thinking. 

‘If it is just a recipe collection then can’t I just use Pinterest or buy a cookbook for that?’

I understand the thought but take a second look. Keeping a kitchen journal is an incredibly unique and personalized way to use a notebook for the sake of your home and family. 

Mine started as a kitchen log of sorts. My initial idea was to have a way to keep track of my entire kitchen: pantry supplies, inventory, and a price comparison list. I thought it was a helpful thing to do with my cute notebook that reminded me of an old-fashioned kitchen. But honestly, it’s become so much more. 

You can see specifics of what I do with mine in the reveal of my autumn kitchen journal on my youtube channel.

Kitchen Journal Ideas: Origin

The idea of a kitchen journal isn’t new. 

From long ago women would keep notes about their cooking adventures, specifically scratching in recipes that listed things like ‘add in drippings’ or ‘a handful of savory’, lacking any specific measurements. 

These types of recipes really gives a pioneer times feel, therefore the traditional foods kitchen journal makes a lot of sense. We are getting back to the origin or the roots of traditional foods cooking. 

Although I know this all to be true from old cookbooks, my Little House Cookbook and others (check out some vintage cookbooks from 100+ years ago), I’ve only heard of this concept of a kitchen journal in very few places. 

One of those places was on Mary’s Nest YouTube channel but hers is more directly a recipe book binder for starting a traditional foods pantry. 

Certainly, recipes are a part of my journal, but a kitchen journal isn’t about recreating Ina Garten’s pumpkin roulade. 

I mean it could be, but there are many more things you can put in this kind of journal. Everything from your favorite stock-up items from the grocery store to what you plan to serve, Martha Stewart-style, to impress guests. I like to put in seasonal activities and I even add in medicinal tea recipes.

Though I started my journal back in 2019, this wasn’t the first time I had thoughts of a kitchen journal. I’m basing this blog post on a beautiful recipe book I found at the library once, here in the United States, over a decade ago. It was certainly for someone who has a baking bug, but it blended wonderful flavors and foods with seasonal ideas. 

Susan Branch’s books have unique flavor combinations and unique stories. They are absolutely lovely to look at and, I believe, fueled my seasonal focus on life. 

If you like my Fall/Winter kitchen journal, you’ll want to check out her books, Autumn from the Heart of the Home (probably my favorite), The Summer Book, and Heart of the Home – Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen.

susan branch's autumn recipe book a form of the kitchen journal
Susan Branch’s autumn a kind of kitchen journal
susan branch's summer recipe book a form of the kitchen journal
Susan Branch’s summer book, a unique recipe book

Why Create a Kitchen Journal?

Besides the obvious reasons, there is a deeper reason to keep a kitchen journal.

my autumn kitchen journal, the cover has beautiful art of a pumpkin pin, bowl of nutmeg shells, cinnamon sticks and 2 large pumpkins
My Autumn and Winter Kitchen Journal

Just like Susan’s books, your kitchen journal can and will become a family keepsake. Adding in things you like, they like and your methods of doing things in and around your kitchen can be something of a guide to your home. 

Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, you will find other ideas flowing into your journal. 

Things like a list of your favorite farmer’s markets to visit, how you menu plan (or just plan) parties, and more! Maybe even leaving notes about your kids’ favorite foods.  All of this together, over the years, has become such a memorable and beloved book.

Other reasons, that are still very important, include if you are on a specific food journey. Maybe you are on a weight loss journey or an elimination diet to find out your sensitivities or allergies.

a page from my summer kitchen journal: how to decorate the kitchen
a page from my summer kitchen journal – plan to finish this spring

Perhaps you have some other type of kitchen goals for your family like we do, keeping a traditional foods kitchen. 

Maybe you will want to keep your own seasonal family traditions that involve food (a bit more about that later).

If you enjoy cooking and journaling, you may want the benefits of journaling, while having the topic of your entries to be about foods and recipes.  At this point, you could simply have it be your cooking journal for what you tried and succeeded at. 

Why Not Just Electronically Store Recipes?

I used to do this but there are a few problems. 

One, you can’t be as creative. You can’t design the pages and probably won’t take the time to add in related notes like how to decorate the cake how your son likes it or a poem you like.

Two, it is digital. I have a difficult time finding things digitally. I used Evernote, so my info was never lost (which now, basically every note app functions in this ingenious way). But, I have a hard time connecting as well with information, bookmarks, etc. online. I always feel like I have to get things out of a virtual space to organize it then make connections.

Three, Pinterest works beautifully for recipe discovery, however, not as well as a recipe storage. 

You go to Pinterest, find what you pinned, go into that website, and suffer through all of the recipe site ads and videos. This is an annoying extra step. Not to mention if you need another recipe during the same cooking period. Click back to Pinterest, search again, click into another site or stay on that initial site, search then pin it to save it. All your time is eaten up clicking around. 

Lastly, storing recipes electronically means you are dependent on computers, the Internet and electricity to make your culinary creations. I admit there is a certain amount of convenience to it, however, if I can’t or don’t want to, I don’t need a computer or my phone in order to cook.

If you are still determined, you can learn the best ways to store your recipes online with The Kitchn, but if you would like to know more about a pen and paper kitchen journal keep reading.

What’s a Traditional Foods Kitchen?

If you are on a traditional foods journey, like my family and I, you will find a kitchen journal a necessary tool. In this case, it does go far beyond creating a simple recipe book. 

We started our journey with the GAPS diet, which introduced us to fermenting, cooking from scratch and slow living in general. In this elimination diet of sorts, you have a specific ailment you want to heal which, it is said, all illnesses begin in the gut. It’s pretty popular to the health community to talk about gut health and the GAPS diet was our introduction to that. 

GAPS diet book for restoring the Gut and healing allergies, ADHD and eczema, etc.
the beginning of my traditional foods and kitchen journey

It follows the same ideas you can find in the Nourishing Traditions book from Sally Fallon. The idea is to heal the gut by eating naturally without processed foods, as well as detoxing your body from things like plastics, heavy metals, etc. It is a way to heal and strengthen our bodies by stepping back in a time long past.

Nourishin Traditions book for a kitchen journal journey
This Traditional Food Journey book is essential for kitchen journal journeyers – Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon

Having a traditional foods kitchen would entail making things that take a lot more time and intention, like homemade bone broth. While on this kind of journey, journaling about your food sensitivities, your fermenting schedule or listing times for soaking different foods like nuts vs. grains, can all be quite handy. 

When I started my journey I didn’t know how to journal these things. I found myself writing random notes that I would lose and constantly looking in the book for the same pages over and over again. Probably would’ve been smart to at least bookmark certain pages, but I didn’t. 

One thing that did help me was going to farmer’s markets and eating seasonally. My current kitchen journals are based on the seasons and leading a life that is still surrounded by traditional or simple living techniques.

Eating Seasonally

One of the things promoted highly in the traditional foods, natural eating, whole foods community, is eating seasonally. 

Eating seasonally simply is a method of incorporating foods into your diet that are available in your region during that season. That means you’ll be eating less processed foods automatically. But that also means keeping your eye out for foods that are naturally available (not purchasing that fresh pineapple in the middle of snowy weather). 

a list of autumn seasonal foods from my kitchen journal

Amazingly, by doing this you are supporting your local economy and the environment all in one swoop! You can also use this way of eating to create some wonderful seasonal family traditions and add them to your kitchen journal.

Something like going apple-picking in the Autumn, and adding a recipe for hot apple pie. You can even create a whole list of apple recipes. You could also have a tradition of attending a strawberry festival and coming home to preserve strawberries.

What’s Inside a Kitchen Journal?

You can make your journal any way you want since it’s a kitchen log of ideas. 

A page from my spring and summer kitchen journal, open to fill in information about what a Summer Kitchen is like.
My Spring and Summer Kitchen Journal summer page, ready to be filled with ideas

My particular kitchen journal is very much geared toward traditional foods recipes, ferments, and the like, but it also includes:

  • A ‘Stock-up’ Pantry Inventory
  • Gardening Prep and put to bed Info
  • Seasonal Family Activities
  • Poems
  • Seasonal Ideas (like decorating your kitchen seasonally or preparing for winter)
  • Caring for the Kitchen
my kitchen journal page for winter spices

How Do You Make a Kitchen Journal?

Let’s get you started creating your own journal!

Supplies Needed

journaling supplies for the kitchen journal, highlighters, markers, pens, pencils, stickers and tape

Basic supplies include (only the first two are necessary)

  • a journal or composition notebook
  • pens or pencils
  • various markers
  • washi tape
  • sticky notes
  • stickers
  • highlighters

Step One: Brainstorm

The first step is to figure out what you want your kitchen journal to be like.

What kinds of things would you like your journal to contain? Do you want to add photos of your meals? You can list meals that work, kitchen goals, or meals to experiment with and more. 

my old kitchen journal. on this page is a list of soup ideas
my old kitchen journal, or a first attempt. It was a list of recipe ideas in a composition notebook.

Thinking through everything I’ve already presented to you, you can plan and dream what will work.

Step Two: Choose Your Materials and Format

Now that you know what you’d like to see in your journal, you can choose the materials and format. Perhaps you would like to include drawings and stickers, so you can choose the right stickers or drawing tools.

And what kind of format? You can list things out or make it more like a book with a table of contents. You can glue or insert materials into your journal or rewrite the information.

Step Three: Find Your Recipes and Research Your Content

Also, depending on your focus, you may have to research content to insert, like poems, instructions, background information, activities, kitchen designs, or organizational kitchen supplies.

a page from my autumn and winter kitchen journal with a little poem of sorts that I wrote about the winter kitchen. this is an example of how you can research and add content to your own journal

This is my thoughts, journaling based on poems about the kitchen in the wintertime 🙂

Step Four: Design Your Journal

In this fourth step, you simply create the journal. 

You can make your table of contents (TOC) or leave the first page blank so you can come back and include it later. Then go page by page. As you see in my journal I have some pages filled out and others just have headings. So you might find it better to create a TOC. 

You can frame headings, use stickers, make borders, include stories, and the poems you found, journal a bit about certain topics, draw outlines and plans for organizing your kitchen, and more!

I also want to point out that you don’t have to create your journal from scratch like I did. If you are at a loss for words and ideas, you can use a template like the Keepsake Kitchen Diary.

How Do You Keep a Kitchen Journal?

Keeping a kitchen journal is different from keeping a journal for organizing your life.

Use this journal as a treasure for yourself and your family. Add to your journal whenever you want and keep it on display in the dining room, in the kitchen, or in a keepsake place with other valuables.

As you go along in your cooking journey you’ll have new things to add, new thoughts to explore, and new paths to take. Add it all to your kitchen journal.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Thank you, this is such a great idea. Like you many people are trying to get back to the old way of doing things. So this will be a great help and encouragement.