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  • School preparation is a huge task for every mom, as it involves not only buying school items but also planning your child’s baon, or packed snack or lunch. It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. Just keep in mind that it has to be nutritous, enticing but easy to eat, and overall an enjoyable meal for your toddler.

    As proper nutrition is important for a child’s health, growth and development, a mom should find ways to provide healthy and affordable meals for her child without breaking her budget – it’s possible! We asked real-life moms how they do it, and here are their tipid tips:

    1. D-I-Y or Do it Yourself. 

    Bess Howe, a mommy to 7-year old Tobey, shares that instead of buying from stores, she makes her own cookies and muffins. “They are healthier and it comes out cheaper.”  

    2. Buy nutritious food.

    Geraldine Clemente makes sure she includes fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges and pineapple in her 11-year old daughter’s baon.

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    As for Mae Gumintad, a preschool teacher and mommy to Ranya, 6 years old and Rohan, 2 years old, she adds fruits to her children’s rice and ulam, which makes for a more filling meal. She also explains that her child’s preschool practices a "vegetables-and-fruits day" every Wednesday, which exposes Ranya to good eating habits.

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    3. Prepare home-cooked meals.

    Mommy Geraldine explains, “As much as possible, prepare home-cooked meals instead of preparing pre-packed food (nuggets, bacon, ham, etc). She suggests that moms make their own burgers for baon - “throw in some finely-chopped veggies and fruits such as carrots, crushed pineapple, and grated squash to make sure your kid gets a daily dose of veggies,” instead of the usual packed or fast food meals, which can be a burden to your budget.

    4. Prepare home-made juice.

    Mommy Mae says, “I prefer fresh fruit juice over their tetra-pack counterparts for my kids. Aside from being a healthier alternative, this also helps the school from accumulating too much garbage”.

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    5. Prepare bite-size portions.

    Mommy Mae adds that, “Dapat naka-cut na yung ulam so that the teacher doesn’t have to go around to cut them into small pieces”. When food is served in small portions, children won’t feel overwhelmed by the serving, and are also encouraged to eat slowly and are more likely to finish their meals.

    6. Prepare ahead of time. 

    Ninna Espiritu shares that when she prepares dinner, she also has in mind her 7-year-old son’s baon for the next day. “I immediately set aside a portion for Jacob’s baon”, pointing out that frozen food is a no-no for her son. She adds that “his baon is the same food we had for dinner, so in a sense, I’m not really spending separately for it”.

    7. Be resourceful.  

    Michelle Agustin, a mother of three boys (Nathan,15 years old; Timmy, 11 years old; and Noah, 9 years old), shares that “ I often end up with over-ripe fruits and veggies, so I mash the bananas and grate the carrots, then store them in our freezer, ‘til I’m ready to bake a banana or carrot muffin/bread. One time, I had a neighbor who gave me an entire piling ng saging from their tree, so I googled other banana recipes and found banana chocolate muffins. That was a winner.” 

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    She also tells us that instead of buying sandwich spread from the grocery, she makes her own. She says, “I make two types of sandwich spreads at a time. Any of the following are my kids' favorites: egg, tuna, chicken, cheese pimiento and sometimes, pesto. I store each in a recycled empty jar of mayonnaise. I only make two at a time because it’s not good to keep them for a long time especially the mayo-based ones.”

    8. Use water jugs and food containers.

    Hannah Faustino, an interior designer and mommy to Timmy, 8 years old and Nina, 3 years old, shares that she lets her son bring his food in a tumbler and container so that there is very little waste disposal. They also teach them this in school. She adds, “as for his drinks, I only put in his water jug an amount which I think he can finish." 

    Joy Guzman, mom to 5-year old Leigh and 3-year old Meg, notes that, “We have our own jug para no need to buy mineral water in PET bottles.”

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    Michelle Dee, mom to 7-year old Denise, explains that, “I use quality food containers to make sure that the food does not spill on my daughter’s lunch bag.”

    9. Buy food items in bulk.  

    Claudette Leorna-Magtanong, mommy to 4-year old Seth, explains that “buying big boxes of his favorite cereals and letting him bring a portion of it in a container” is her suggestion to fellow moms. She adds that many supermarkets offer great deals but moms should make sure to always check the nutrition label. 

    Mommy Hannah adds that, “if I buy a big pack of chocolate chip cookies, I save about 10% of the cost versus buying several of the smaller packs.”

    10. Be creative.

    Moms should make sure that they add variety to their child’s baon to expose their child to different types of food, especially fruits and vegetables. According to Mimi Dee, mommy to 8-year old Chloe, “I write a monthly menu para di paulit-ulit ang baon.”

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    Mommy Hannah reveals that her kids are "unfortunately not fond of fruits and vegetables so I compensate by putting biscuits or wafers fortified with nutrients.” By being creative in preparing their baon, children are more encouraged to eat their food, thus, reducing the likelihood of them not eating their baon.

    The key to having your child eat his baon is in making his meal enjoyable and satisfying. Involve him in the process by asking for his suggestions. By doing so, and at the same time continuing to educate your child about the value of food, our family can be healthier and our savings bigger.

    References:
    Herr, Judy. (1998). Working with Young Children. Illinois: The Goodheart-Willcox Company, Inc.

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