The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with Weekend Page 2

[Update:] Now with a second page for the weekend plus expanded shopping list! See below.

Last year I introduced the Weekly Bento Planner, a simple form to plan your bento lunches. It’s been very popular, and both files have been downloaded thousands of times.

One comment I got several times was that the form was fine for mapping out the week’s bento plans, but what if you wanted to plan all of your meals for the week too? To address this need, after a lot of thinking and testing - and just in time for the Bento Challenge! - I present you the Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch form.

The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch form - example

(Click on the image to get to the flickr page where you can see it at a large size.)

This form has Monday to Friday columns for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The key feature though is the Lunch box, which looks like this:

weeklympbentobox.png

As you can see, it’s divided up like a mini bento box. There are sections for protein, carbs, and vegetables, with a small area for fruits and snacks. The section sizes are meant to represent more or less how much of each kind of macro-nutrient food items you should try to pack into your bento box. (The vegetable section is bigger on purpose, to encourage you to pack more of them.) Here’s a box filled out:

weeklympbentoboxf.png

You can use the sections as-is for straightforward bentos, but don’t let the lines hold you in! On days when you have a combination food, such as spinach fritatta (protein and vegetable) you can write it so that it spans both Protein and Veg sections. Or, if you’re planning to go to a restaurant, you can write that over the whole box. Zoom in on the large image on the flickr page (click All Sizes at top) to see how you can use it.

Which form is right for you?

If you want a simple form to just plan out your lunches, the original Weekly Bento Planner is for you. But if you want to plan your whole eating day a bit more, you might want to give this form a try.

A planner or a diary

You could use either form as a diary instead of a planner too. If you really want to go the extra step, use one form to plan out your meals, and another one to record what you actually ate. (I did this for a week and it was a bit depressing. Potato chips are the bane of my existence I tell ya.)

###Why not 7 days? I have not put in Saturday and Sunday columns on these forms. The reason is that I tend to regard the weekends as ‘free’ time food wise, when I experiment with some new recipes, or we go out to eat. (Or, I might get engrossed in some non-food project and we just get takeout.) Making it 7 days would make the boxes quite small too. You can still make overall plans for your weekends in the bottom Notes area. If you really want 7-day versions of the forms though let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Update: Weekend Page 2

I’ve now added a Page 2 to cover the weekend! Click on the image below go to the Flickr page, where you can enbiggen it:

Weekly Meal Planner page 2 (weekend) usage example

As you see, I’ve added two columns for Saturday and Sunday, and used the other side of the page for a shopping list, or notes, or whatever. You could print this on the back side of the weekday planner to save some trees.

Download for free!

The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch forms are PDF files. Windows users will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader. (Mac users can open and print the forms in Preview.) You may need to select the Fit On Page or similar setting on your printer to make everything print.

Other languages

Special thanks to Antje, who made all the different language forms for us!

Thank you to Antje for the German versions!

Thank you to Momoko * Bárbara for the Portuguese versions!

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

French planner pages (thanks Céine!)

Norwegian planner pages (thanks Ren!)

Hungarian planner pages (thanks Ren!)

Related forum discussion: How do you plan your bentos?

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.

27 comments

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Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

I know I would appreciate 7 day - or maybe a weekend supplement?

I would think about planning it for perhaps legal sized page option for printing.

Anyway - this is GREAT!!!!

As a stay at home person it would help me alot and I am sharing it with my weight conscious world!!

THANK YOU!!!!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

Maki - this is totally excellent! Thank you very much!!!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

great post! i am usually not so organized as to want the planner, but i will be for this challenge--or at least use it like a diary. Cool. and thanks.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

This is so neat! I'm excited to try it out. I printed up your original but never put it to use. This one seems more realistic for my weekly menu planning. Only an anal note - veggies are carbs, too, so perhaps it could say something like protein, veggies, grain. I can't think of too many non-veggie carbs that aren't one type of grain or another. I'm trying to see if I'm taking in adequate amounts of protein, carbs, and fats, and that's sort of how I separate out my meals. But who wants a planner that says "fats" on it?!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

Thank you so much! this will definately help me keep more organized and on track. could this be a possible cure for bento laziness? I'm thinking so...

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

Thanks for the weekly form I hope I keep using it. It will help me with planning and visualizing my lunches, ahead of time. I really want to stay on track. What are the specific rules as to the challenge? Is there a calorie limit for lunch?

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

Thank you :)

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

Might actually give this a go- looks really handy. A 7 day version would be even better though.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

I love your site. I plan on starting to eat bento lunches when I get off of school break. Your website is very very helpful. I can't wait!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

I love this! I've filled mine in already for this week. I've changed "snacks" into the nightly prep for the morning bento assembly. I like to make muffins and pies the night before so this will inspire and encourage. I'll make it a habit to fill it in. Thank you Makiko!!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box

I love the looks of this planner and will point my readers to it. Bento is so great because it makes you consider the different parts to a well balanced and healthier meal. Thanks for your ideas!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

I'm confused -- the bento proportions I learned were 3:2:1, 3 parts carb, 2 parts veg, 1 part protein. I have adapted that for my personal nutritional needs to be half carbs, 1/4 protein, 1/4 veg. Your chart is mostly veg?

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

I agree that part was a bit confusing. I've amended it now, but the reason why the vegetable section is bigger than carb or protein is to as a subtle reminder to pack more vegetables. I think most people do not have a problem with packing carbs, and protein is usually not a big deal either, but veg. tends to be an afterthought. (Looking back at our collective bentos from the challenge, I think this is a common issue.) As far as the bento ratios thing goes, this post might be useful also.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Thanks! That helps. I often include a little more protein than the general guidelines just because my diet needs that.
I love the form. I used it last week and it made meals very easy!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

I tried a couple of times to download this and nothing happened. I could use a little help.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

I was looking for a meal planner on many web pages, and this is really the most convenient one. And for free :) Thank You very much!!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

I love it...can't wait to try it. (11 days till first day of kindergarten)

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Thanks a lot :)My kids love bentos sooo ...much. Yours sites is so helpfull to me. Thanks again.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

My nutritionist loves me because I use your site - she says I should be a guest speaker to the other students because entirely on my own I decided to bring bento lunch instead of buying greasy crap at school and because I plan out the week using your planner. Thanks so much for making this site!

"Stop having the boring tuna; stop having the boring life" - Vince Offer

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Thank you very much for this great blog and especially this menu planner. I couldn't live (healthy) without it anymore!

If you send me the original editable files I'll be happy to translate them into Dutch.

Kinds regards from Bruges

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Thank you for this great planner! I already plan out my dinners for the week, but now I'm going to try to incorporate bento lunches into my plan as well.

I like to use color pencils to sketch out the bento lunch. The presentation makes a huge difference in the taste and enjoyment of the food. Your weekly planner will make it even easier to do that. After I have a couple of good weeks mapped out with grocery lists I can just repeat them to save time when I have a busy weekend.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Thank you so much for these planner pages. I didn't realize they were there until I bought your book, which exceeds my expectations by the way! I make three lunches in the morning and you have given me lots of ideas and inspiration. Thank you!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

This is a great meal planner - i'm not doing bento lunches (although i did discover this by reading your blogs normally!), but find this useful to plan out family meals through the week! Have used this for a long while now, just thought I should say "Thank you very much!"

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Wonderful planning tool that you offer here! Thank you so much for sharing it!
You're terrific! The bento box concept is the best!

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't find a file where both English versions are merged as one PDF. I can see the German version, but English only has the pages as separate PDFs, which isn't as easy to print out on my duplex printer.

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Hi Maki, thanks so much for all the great recipes and this superb planner. Is the original planner in a spreadsheet format? It would be great if someone could upload this in Excel format so we don't have to print out weekly and save some paper in the process. Also, I find typing it in spreadsheets is much easier and it's not so messy if you have to make changes :-)

Re: The Weekly Menu Planner With Bento Lunch Box - now with ...

Someone did make a spreadsheet version of the original planner, which you can read about here. But the Excel version is a dead link now unfortunately. If someone would like to volunteer to make a new Excel version I'd be happy to host it.

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