The Weekly Bento Planner
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.
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.
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:
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!)
(Do you need a all-meal menu planner? Try the Weekly Meal Planner With Bento Lunch.)
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting this site by becoming my patron via Patreon.