The Weekly Bento Planner

weekly-bento-planner-pic.jpg

The Weekly Bento Planner is a simple one-page form that I use to plan out my week, bento-wise. I don’t really bother to plan out my other meals, but since time is at such a premium in the morning when I’m assembling bentos, I spend a few minutes on the weekend writing out what I intend to make for bentos during the upcoming week.

The layout of the Weekly Bento Planner

The top 2/3rds of the page is divided into 5 vertical columns for Monday through Friday. Each column has 4 sections, for protein, carbs, vegetables, and fruits/extra. It’s divided this way so that the bentos are as balanced as possible.

If I don’t plan to make a bento for a particular day, I’ll note that down too. Sometimes I’ll jot down what I had for lunch on a non-bento day so that I can adjust my bento calories a bit on following days if needed.

The bottom part is for notes. I write down any leftovers or staples stashed away that I want to use up during the week. I also make notes to myself, such as “remember to cook some black beans on the weekend for next week” or “stop using broccoli everyday!” etc. The right side third or so is marked as ‘Shopping List’, and can be used to write down anything that’s needed and not stocked. You can optionally cut off the shopping list part to bring along with you - it’s small enough to tuck in a wallet. (I usually just fold the whole sheet in half and put it in my diary; the A4 size folded in half fits my A5 sized diary/appointment book.)

Once you start to write down the weekly plans, it can be interesting to look back at them. If you find yourself making the same bento menu over and over, it’s an incentive to try to vary it a bit. I keep my used sheets in a clear plastic folder.

This sheet could be used equally as well for brown bag or lunchbox lunch planning.

I’ve tweaked the form several times, and am pretty happy with how it looks and functions now, but suggestions for improving it are always appreciated.

Example usage

Here’s a sample sheet I’ve filled out (sorry for my scribbly writing!) Clicking on the image will take you to the flickr page for it, which has notes.

weekly-bento-planner450.jpg

Some key points:

  • I make a list of leftovers and stocked staples that I want to use up during the week if I can. This is most critical for things in the refrigerator of course, but remember that frozen food can go ‘off’ eventually too. When I’ve used them up I cross them off. I mark things that are in the freezer with an F, and refrigerated things with an R.
  • In the Notes part I write down things like sales of note (Migros is one of the supermarkets here), and other things.
  • I use the shopping list part to note down what I should be shopping for next week’s bentos rather than this week’s, though you could use it for the current week as well.

Download for free!

The Weekly Bento Planner forms are PDFs, so you will need to download Adobe Reader if you are on Windows. (Mac OSX users can open the PDF in Preview and print from there.)

Just choose the paper size you prefer:

Other languages

Many thanks especially to Antje, who made all the different language forms!

Wochen-Bentoplaner auf Deutsch (German) (thanks Antje!)

Plano semanal de refeições com almoço bento (Portuguese) (thanks Momoko * Bárbara!)

The following are .zip files containing both the Weekly Bento Planner and the Weekly Meal Planner pages in each language.

French planner pages (thanks Céline!)

Norwegian planner pages (thanks Ren!)

Hungarian planner pages (thanks Ren!)

Spreadsheet versions

Avlor has created a spreadsheet version of the Weekly Bento Planner, in Google Doc and Excel formats. Read about it here!

(Do you need a all-meal menu planner? Try the Weekly Meal Planner With Bento Lunch.)

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

29 comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Wow!

This is so handy! Thank you for sharing it with everyone. And for including a US size. I’ve ordered my first bento box after following this website for a couple weeks, and I can’t wait to get started!

Great idea, i love doing

Great idea, i love doing list, especially shopping list, so it will be helpful.

awesome idea!

Thank you so much for offering a download of this! I have been making bento for my husband and myself for a couple years now, and there have been plenty of mornings in which I haven’t planned anything, and end up frantically trying (and sometimes failing) to put together a nutritious and visually appealing bento at the last minute. This is such a great idea- I really think it will help me be more organized and creative with my bento-making! :)

I am Sooo excited about

I am Sooo excited about this! I LOVE things like this so much. And I am so truly UNorganized when it comes to cooking and food. Thanks!

Thank you!

I was doing something similar to this, but without the form, and I kept putting notes for the next week in one place, and notes about the current week somewhere else and then forgetting something because I never managed to have all my little notes in the same place. (Er, I am a tad disorganized.)

This form is exactly what I needed!

I had the same problem

Marisa I had the same problem…notes in my diary, in a text file on my computer, Post-it Notes…that’s why I made the form to get myself in order! I’m glad other people find it useful too! (I cleaned it up a bit for public consumption, otherwise I’d have posted it up earlier :))

That's Cool!

I’ll have to do something like that in my day planner—especially since we also bento on weekends for me and the hub (we both need to lose weight and have health issues). It might also keep me from wondering what the heck I’m doing when it comes time to create the bentos and help me spread out the few veggies my husband seems to like in his bentos.

wow wow wow

I was meaning to make something like this to get my bento making in gear…this is perfect timing! Thank you so much Maki!!! I love you! hehe ^_^;

Thank you

Awesome! Thanks for posting this!

very nice idea :) thanks, i

very nice idea :) thanks, i downloaded it and will print a bunch of it tomorrow at work.

seeing that newspaper under the printed out form, are you from germany?

Close…I’m living in

Close…I’m living in Switzerland :) (I’m Japanese tho, originally)

Great idea!

Very cool idea. Right now I use a small dry erase board (magnetic) that I stuck on my refrigerator. So far I can’t plan more than one day in advance. :)

sooo much help

thank you so much for making this available. It is an incredible help for lunches for my partner and me. No more going to the grocery story every day because there’s something I forgot!

Bento planner

This is excellent. Thank you. I’m going to use it and also adapt another to plan my dinners as sometimes what I have for lunch depends on what I’ve cooked for dinner.

Bento Planner

I’m new at bento-ing and I found that planning my meals would be so much easier. Plus it helps me save up on groceries because I know what to buy for this week and next. I was planning my meals on a weekly planner that somebody gave to me, and never used (that’s what Blackberrys are for). However, I lost that weekly planner so I’m glad that I found this format although it’s still a little too big for my post-it board and I usually work weekends. I hope that I can get my hands on another planner this time. Thanks!

Planner

Thank you that is a great tool for planning.

love planning

I use a form really similar to this to map out the week’s meals. I got the idea from a book on nutrition that I edited a long time ago. It’s great to map out a week’s worth of nutrition (balancing intake over a week instead of over a day is much easier), and have the grocery list on the side. Plus it’s wonderful at the end of a day not to have to decide on what to make for dinner. The chart tells me and I already have all the ingredients on hand.

Like you, I sort through the freezer and fridge stash before making the week’s menu, so I can use things up.

Brilliant! I used to do

Brilliant! I used to do something similar back when my old doctor was making me regulate my diet…this would be a perfect way to start planning more healthy lunches via obento to get myself feeling better. <3

Thanks for sharing!

This is great

I Made a modification though…I did the form with all 7 days on it… I am a college student and will be spending at least Saturdays on campus working on projects (Sunday is my Cooking Day) and since I am planning on doing Bento for all of my meals (mainly for portion control) it’s easier to have all seven days on the form… :D

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Hello Maki-chan! Arigatou! For all of your bento posts! they are just amazing. I hope you don't mind, but I have linked you in a bento post on my new blog Hello Sandwich:
http://hellosandwich.blogspot.com/2009/03/bento-daisuki.html
Thank you so much for your amazing bento inspiration.
Love,
Hello Sandwich.
xxx

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

I printed one out and put it in a plastic sheet protector
instant dry erase board :) that you can reuse but only use dry erase
markers !

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Awesome! If you'd like this translated into French, let me know.

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

This is a great resource. Thanks! Linking to it from an article I am writing on planning healthy lunches.

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Maki-san, Just when I think I have found the neatest thing on your website... I run into something else that makes me happy that I found it. Today was the weekly bento box planner! I was in Seattle last night and went to the Diaso we have across from the Japanese market and found a few bento boxes. I found out yesterday I was hired on at a new job and since I am also wanting to drop weight I figured I would use your advice and see how things go. Wish me luck!! Tina

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Good luck with your new job, and your bento adventures Tina :)

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Thanks so much for providing these resources.

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Any chance we can have the Weekly Meal Planner file in SPANISH? Thank you sooo much!

Thanks! Rather helpful indeed ^^

Helpful! I am just embarking on experimenting and making bento's, and this form really helps me to get my head around how to construct and what to include in my (rather experimental) bento's ! <3

Re: The Weekly Bento Planner

Hello! I just love your site! so fun to just look at all pictures of bentos! I am also wondering if you want me to translate the "bento planner" to swedish? Have a nice day! /love Anna

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.