Traditionally, recipes in books tend to be on one page, with an ingredient list specifying quantities at the top, and the instructions following that.

One very important thing has changed: many, many people are no longer getting their recipes from books. Instead, the web is the source, and in some cases, great applications like Paprika* which can take a web page and extract the recipe details into a structured format, basically a scalable quantities ingredients list in one pane, and the instructions in another. Both are editable.

So when I go shopping, I reference the ingredients pane and simply work down the list, making sure I have the right things in the right quantities. Easy, direct, no messing around.

However, when I go to make the recipe, the recipe instructions almost always lack the quantities. Here’s an example:

    Ingredients list contains:
    2 tablespoons butter

    Recipe instructions say:
    Melt butter in pan

Which means that unless I’ve memorized the recipe (not likely, or I wouldn’t be trying to read the instructions), now I have to go look at the ingredients list and hunt down the quantity of butter. Which is annoying: I’m trying to cook over here!

So my suggestion, and what I’ve begun doing with all the recipes I grab off the web as soon as I get them into Paprika, is to edit the recipe thusly:

    Ingredients list contains:
    2 tablespoons butter

    Recipe instructions say:
    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in pan

Problem solved. Shopping, the ingredients list is all I need. Cooking, the recipe is all I need.

* I have no business connection with Paprika; I’m just a very happy paid user of the pro version.