How to Create a Collaborative Recipe Book With a Group

people doing creating a collaborative recipe book

Famous American chef, James Beard, was noted as saying “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” In a world where we often find ourselves apart from our community — whether due to remote work, pandemics, or simply living far from family — how do we continue to celebrate the power of food, our common ground? Enter the collaborative recipe book. In the past, sharing our favorite dishes meant coming together in the kitchen to cook, swap recipes, and gather around the table. While being together in one place is not always an option, collaborative recipe books allow us to still share food, recipes, and community — even from afar. From corporate community-building to collecting family memories, here are our best tips for creating a collaborative recipe book with a group of colleagues, family, or friends. 

What is a Collaborative Recipe Cookbook?

A collaborative recipe cookbook is a way to gather and publish a diverse collection of recipes from any group of people. Collaborative cookbooks can be built simply by one person collecting and compiling all of the recipes into one place — say a spreadsheet or document that is easily printed. Other ways to create a collaborative recipe book include utilizing virtual tools built specifically for the task — which we’ll touch more on in a moment. No matter how you choose to collect and publish your recipe book, the goal is collaboration: gathering a diverse selection of recipes from among your family, your book club, your home group, your child’s graduating class, or your company. The experience of sharing a personal recipe, and receiving a finished cookbook that allows you to try new recipes from friends and colleagues, is what makes a these cookbooks so unique. 

woman cooking alone at home

Good Reasons to Start a Collaborative Cookbook

Collaborative cookbooks come in all shapes and sizes, and each serves a unique purpose. For many people, creating a collaborative recipe book was a great way to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of family dinners, they were able to cook together over video calls and share tips and tricks.For others, it is a way to preserve family recipes passed down over the years. Collecting all of the family recipes and handing out cookbooks at a family reunion is a fun and memorable way to keep family traditions alive. Need a creative way to bring together your team of remote colleagues? One of our favorite uses for the collaborative recipe book is as a corporate team-building activity. Large remote companies use tools such as Newlywords to gather recipes into a collaborative recipe book that gets printed and shipped to each employee. Individuals can then experience the joy of trying each other’s recipes in their kitchens. Not only is this great for team building, but also a fantastic way to foster inclusion and belonging in the workplace. A cookbook allows us to share cultural connections — and love for food — with a diverse and geographically distributed group of colleagues. Just think about all the people who are working from home these days! A cookbook created by employees allows you to create a space where anyone and everyone can share a part of who they are with their team or community. 

woman in a zoom call while cooking

How to Create a Collaborative Recipe Book With Any Group

Digital tools are everywhere, which means creating a recipe book with a group — especially a group that is spread out across the country or the world — is easier than ever. Instead of chasing down recipes via email or over the phone, online platforms let you contact, collect, and design your cookbook in one place. The first step is to decide who will participate in your collaborative cookbook. Friends? Colleagues? An entire school? The options are endless. Once you have decided who will participate in your collaborative cookbook, you’re just five simple steps away from creating the perfect collection of recipes. 

Choose a Platform

The next step is to choose the right platform for your recipe book. Basic tools such as Google Sheets or a Word document provide one way to organize your recipes. The final result won’t look or feel neat, but both are options for collecting everything in one place. More advanced options include designing your own cookbook in a program such as Canva or InDesign. This is a great option for those who have plenty of time to invest in their collaborative cookbook, who only wish to publish a virtual version, and who love to design page layouts. Another fantastic option is finding a platform such as Newlywords that specializes in book templates, design, and collaboration. Instead of chasing down the recipes and designing each page yourself, Newlywords tools allow you to upload recipe content and photos, invite collaborators, and edit content all in one place. Digital templates make it easy to create a recipe book that looks like a professional cookbook. You can share ingredients, step-by-step processes, notes, and even photos of the food, or of you and your family cooking together. Collaboration tools mean everyone can participate in the creation of a virtual recipe book and enjoy both a digital PDF and printed book to share with friends and family.

Create a Structure

Once you’ve chosen the right platform for your cookbook, create a structure for organizing the recipes. Many cookbooks, for example, are organized based on specific meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. Deciding on a cookbook structure first will make the collaborative experience easier and more fun.If you’re using a spreadsheet to collect recipes, add a new tab for each type of recipe. Otherwise, create shared Google folders for each recipe type to keep things organized. Many collaborative platforms allow you to create folders or other systems, so contributors can easily add recipes in the right place. If working with an entire company of collaborators, we highly recommend sticking with a digital platform that already has the collaborative tools built in.

people creating a collaborative recipe book

Start Adding Your Favorite Recipes

Now you can add all your favorite recipes to the book. You can do this by adding them to the spreadsheet, uploading a document of each recipe to a folder, or adding your recipes to your Newlywords template. As the first to add your recipes to the collaborative recipe book, you’ll make it easier for your friends or colleagues to see how to structure their contributions. With platforms such as Newlywords, it’s easy to format your recipes and photos to look like a professional cookbook. Adding your recipes and photos will inspire your group to visualize the final product and decide how to contribute. 

woman in a zoom call while cooking

Share The Link With The Group for Them to Participate

Once you’ve added all your recipes, invite your group or colleagues to share theirs! You can do this by sharing a link to your spreadsheet, using Google tools that allow them to add documents to folders, or emailing the link through the Newlywords platform. Be sure to provide any helpful instructions, such as the planned structure for the cookbook or how to add, organize, and design content. Then watch as your group gets to work and your collaborative recipe book comes to life.

mom and her son cooking

Publish Your Book

When all the recipes are in place, it’s time to publish and share your cookbook. “Publishing” can be done in several ways. For spreadsheets, you can simply share the link with others. If you designed your own layout using tools such as Canva and InDesign, save and download your work as a shareable PDF.  Collaboration platforms provide ways to download a digital cookbook, although that usually requires a fee. Newlywords, however, offers free publication of e-books (PDFs). Not only that, but if you absolutely love your virtual cookbook, you can easily upgrade to a printed version. Turn your beautiful, one-of-a-kind collaborative recipe collection into a hardcover, professional-quality cookbook. 

Final Thoughts

While we can’t always be at the table to share food with our loved ones, friends, or colleagues, virtual tools allow us to still make food a shared experience and common ground. Creating a collaborative recipe book opens the door for us to come together and not just share our favorite foods, but also a part of who we are. These cookbooks are more than just a way to collect your favorite recipes in one organized space. It’s also how we share and preserve cultural and family traditions for other generations, groups, and families to enjoy.