Have you seen the new Moments Inked Meal Planning System by Papertrey Ink? It was introduced a few weeks ago alongside the 2017 version of our popular Moments Inked Memory Planner. I’ve been using the Meal Planner for a couple of weeks now, and am excited to share my thoughts about it today!
Before I get to the meal planner review, though, just quick word about the 2017 Moments Inked Memory Planner. Most of the planner is the same as last year’s version, including the option for spiral-bound or binder format. All of our favorite features have been carried forward, including the monthly and weekly pages, monthly dividers, monthly color schemes, and such, but there are a few enhancements as well that I know I really like and think you will too. If you haven’t seen a review of those additions, I encourage you to take a look at them HERE. Big bright colorful polka dots — that’s all I’m saying!
So, on to the meal planner. I’m sure many of you have seen the reviews from the other design team members. If not, check them out: Ashley, Lexi, Laurie S, Rebecca, Lizzie, and Laurie W.
Meal planning saves time and meal planning saves money, whether you’re running a large household or just cooking for yourself. Meal planning can help you eat a greater variety of foods, use ingredients more efficiently, take advantage of weekly specials at the grocery stores, eat more foods in season, avoid last-minute take-out or restaurant meals, and save you extra trips to the grocery store.
I have incorporated some type of meal planning into my routine for years, but never anything as functional, efficient, and just downright pretty as the Moments Inked Meal Planner. Let me show you!
First, let’s talk about size, specs, and format. Frist, the meal planner is the same size as our regular planners and is printed on the same white linen paper. Like our regular planner, the meal planning pages feature a rainbow of beautiful signature Papertrey colors. And like our regular planner, the meal planner is available in either spiral-bound or in a binder format. (Covers for the spiral-bound and binders for the binder pages are sold separately.) Other products in the Moments Inked product line are compatible with the meal planner, making it easy to decorate and/or customize your meal planner, if desired.
I was really torn between the two formats, but decided to try the spiral version first for two main reasons: 1) I'll be able to store the meal planner in the kitchen, so my family will be able to easily access both the current meal plan and the shopping list; and 2) I like having previous menus archived right in the same notebook for easy reference when planning future weeks. I fear I would misplace used binder pages and lose out on that archiving opportunity. What I don't like (about spiral notebooks in general) is that the coil gets in the way when I'm writing.
I've added two covers to my meal planner. One is the front cover. The second one I’m using as a pencil board. Because of the fold-out, tear-off list, the writing surface of the spiral bound is a tiny bit uneven. Not a big deal, but slipping an extra cover behind the list provides a nice flat, sturdy writing surface. The second cover also works as a bookmark.
Undated: perfect if you skip a week or just need a do-over (a few extra pages are included, 55 for the year, for just that purpose).
Recipe Location: I’ll never forget the time I had probably $40 of organic, locally sourced, grass-fed short ribs sitting in front of my relatively new Instant Pot and frantically googling the heck out of the internet looking for the recipe had prompted me to buy the short ribs in the first place, a cut of meat that at that time I had never, ever cooked in my life. I had no back-up plan. This section should ensure that never happens again!
(By the way, the salmon is highlighted because it was a new recipe.)
Defrost / Advance Prep / Slow Cooker: These reminders are perfect! One of my family’s favorite recipes works best when prepared over the span of three days. Inevitably, I forget to marinate the first day, and we’re either rushing the recipe or scrambling for dinner if we postpone that meal to the next day. Hoping this little reminder will help with that.
After I’ve finished my meal planning, I can add any advance prep tasks to my to-do list or to my weekly spread.
Fold-out, tear-off grocery list: The other girls have said it already, this is GENIUS! I love that the list is organized by category, too. Nothing like getting to the end of your list and having to backtrack for that one little thing you overlooked the first time around. The extra shopping list on the back will come in handy, too, especially if I need to pick up something in bulk at Costco, or something specific at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
This week, I needed to make two trips to the grocery store. My Tuesday trip was hurried, so I purchased only the things I would need before I could get back for a longer trip. I highlighted those immediate items, crossing them off as I shopped. When I finished, I used some of the new skinny washi tape to adhere my list to my weekly divider, so my list was easy to find when I went back yesterday.
A whole page of notes: I have a feeling this will be extremely handy each week. I can note when to make a double batch and freeze one/gift one, when I expect leftovers for lunches the following day, any ingredients substitutions I might want or need to make, times when I might need to tailor or supplement the meal for one or more of us.
Also, either throughout the week or certainly at the end of each week, I’d really love to get in the habit of quickly reflecting back on the meals — what worked well, what didn’t, did we like/dislike new recipes we may have tried, was there a good variety of vegetables and different protein sources, etc. In a perfect world, I’d fine-tune my meal plans to the point that I could just repeat and rotate seasonally. Now *that* would save me a bundle of time!
Although the planner is ready to use right out of the box, I have added a few things that I think will help me with my meal planning. Above is a moveable extra page where I can include any breakfast and lunch notes.
And the second is a tabbed list for our family favorites and go-to meals. I die-cut this using the Moments Inked: Tabbed List die and stamped the title and lines with images from the Moments Inked: Listed stamp set. This will be great for those weeks when I just can't think of anything to fix.
Overall, I’m loving the meal planner so far! I almost wish the days weren't labeled. I don’t always meal plan Monday - Sunday, and I don’t always meal plan for a whole week, sometimes more, sometimes less. But the bigger reason is that probably 90% of the time, we don’t stick to the schedule. We still have the meals I plan for, we just tend to rearrange the days. I haven’t decided yet how to handle when that happens (maybe just write in pencil so I can erase) and don’t know how much it will actually bother me, but it seems pretty minor in the grand scheme.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope this has been helpful!