In a recent post on SmartParenting.com.ph'sFacebook and Instagram page, we shared how hard it was to prepare and make good baon. So we asked moms to share their best tips and photos of the baon they prepare for their kids. Many of you answered with inspirational advice.
Working mom Twinkle Lacsamana, who posts her baon creations on Instagram (@baonflatlays), has two kids, a 4-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy. She told us that baon prep time during the weekends is a must. “I plan out my grocery list for the family’s week-long meals including the baon -- lunch for my husband and eldest, snacks for both of my kids,” she told Smart Parenting. “I also ask my kids what they want for their baons, and most of the time they will spill out their favorites -- cheese sticks, fried chicken, etc.”
Twinkle just jots down her meal planning notes on her phone. Here's a screenshot of one of her lists (so many great ideas!):
Same goes for Michelle Dacumos-Alingarog who makes bento-style baon for her 3-year-old daughter in preschool. “I usually think of what to cook at night pa lang and then dream up a design,” she said. “Usually, I plan our family meals at home and do the grocery once a week.” She posts her bento creations on Instagram at @mixitoot.
2. Go bento with your pantry staples! Prepping baon -- especially bento baon -- might seem like a lot of work, but Michelle reassured moms that it doesn’t have to be. “For my daughter's bento baon, I usually go for pantry staples like bread, eggs, pasta, fresh fruits and veggies, or if we have leftovers from dinner the night before, I add that, too.”
Mom Twinkle’s baon hack? Dinner rolls (or smaller versions of hamburger buns)! “They’re cute, presentable and yummy! You can just shove in whatever spread (I have different varieties of spreads also) or ‘palaman’ that's available. My kids' favorite palaman is ham and cheese.”
Cereals also are a great baon cheat, she added. If you look for ones with low sugar content and high fiber and mix with a few dried fruits and nuts, it becomes a healthier version as well.
In the comments section of our #SPBaon Facebook post, a lot of moms mentioned Facebook page Royal Domesticity as a great source of baon inspiration. We reached out to mom Denise Rayala who runs the page and makes baon lunches for her 8-year-old daughter.
One of Denise's simple but very effective baon hacks: "Make the rice colorful with mixed veggies! It makes the baon instantly appealing. Plus, it will look like you put a lot of effort into it!” she told us.
Those cute “food picks” -- the plastic toothpicks with the cute characters on top -- also make a lot of difference. “No need to be a food artist. Okay na yung may simple bento tools ka. Happy na ang bagets niyan for sure!”
Incidentally, food picks were also Michelle's ultimate food hack to make baon appetizing and more fun for kids. She especially likes the cute eye designs. “It takes 30 seconds to stick it on and may face na agad yung bento.” Look how it transformed the sandwich she made below:
4. You need to be creative -- and patient -- with picky eaters. Denise shares how she makes sure her daughter eats her baon. “My no-fail formula: go-grow-glow. I do my best to prep baon that has carbs, proteins and nutrients. I don't give her food that we don't eat at home. I don't put a lot of lettuce just to make her baon visually appealing, but I put it there because I know that she eats those.”
She adds, “Dapat masarap, secondary na lang yung aesthetics. After all, ang importante, kakainin ng kids. I have always advocated for simple, pretty and yummy.”
06.22.17 I bought her bigger lunch boxes (Biokips from Home Gallery Philippines that are on 30% sale) so I can pack...
Twinkle shared that her preschool-age daughter used to be a picky eater and would often only choose to eat store-bought junk food.
“With regular meals, it was really a struggle. I’ve tried vitamins, supplements, which she didn’t like either! So I started buying baon items. Then, I asked her if I could turn her baon into something nice and yummy would she eat it. And she said yes.” It's still an ongoing process, said Twinkle, but slowly and surely her little one is finishing her baon more and more.
For ulam, Twinkle has a golden rule: “Dapat something na still okay even if malamig na and would not spoil.”
Same goes for mom Michelle who also has a picky eater. “Before, my daughter hated carrots and green beans. When I used them as ingredients in the bento, she tried them. So there was finally a way to introduce healthier food to her. As much as possible, I try to add food from all food groups: grains, proteins, dairy, veggies and fruits, and I avoid sweets and other junk food,” she said.
Twinkle's kids often come home with an empty baunan, and she attributes her success to what she calls her “feedback system.”
“You just have to listen to your child. Find out what they want, and if what they want something that is not what you like for them (a.k.a. too much junk food), you compromise. And be creative -- you don’t need to have the skills or talents of a chef, but you just have to make time -- make time for talking with your child, for sourcing out the items and, of course, for preparation.”
Mom Michelle is also happiest when her daughter takes home an empty baunan. “When I know she's happy with her lunch and that she is getting the proper nutrition she needs, okay na. Sulit na pagod,” said Michelle.
Denise agrees. “Making baon for my daughter is like reminding her that I care for and love her.”