IMAGE @annings/Instagram; Royal Domesticity/Facebook
Baon is important. What you pack your child every day for snack or lunch helps him do better in school. It gives him the fuel to be in tip-top shape and ready to learn and play.
A junk-free baon also provides your child the nutrients he needs to keep growing healthy and strong. To make sure your baon is up to par (and your child actually eats what you packed), we've taken tips from Harvard Health and baon ideas from real Pinay moms to inspire you:
1. Check if you have “the five” “The five” is composed of grains (like bread, rice, pasta, or cereal), fruit, vegetable, meat, and dairy (like milk or cheese). A nutritious, balanced meal would typically include these, said Harvard Health.
Think of “the five” as your child’s favorite superhero team. Each one adds something special (energy, vitamins and nutrients, etc.) and together they pack a punch. You can try using this explanation on your little one as well if he leaves a food group uneaten.
a ham and cheese sandwich
an orange (which you’ve already peeled and placed in a container)
carrot and cucumber pieces (which you can cut into sticks; adding a cream cheese dip is optional)
2. Sandwiches are your (and your child’s) best friend It’s a mom’s go-to. Usually just needing assembly, sandwiches are simple and quick to make. Plus, there are lots of things you can do with them.
Just a little more effort can level-up a sandwich, said Harvard Health. The next time you head to the bakery to buy bread, for example, see what else they have aside from white bread (a.k.a. tasty). They may have malunggay bread or whole wheat too. When it comes to palaman, egg salad, tuna and cheese, or even protein-packed peanut butter are great alternative options to processed cheese spread.
Baon tip: Kiddo didn’t touch his sandwich? Simply cutting it into smaller pieces or into a fun shape makes it a lot more enticing to young kids. It takes little effort from you but can make a big difference!
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3. It’s cheaper and healthier to make your own than buy prepackaged snacks It may take a little more effort and time but the pros outweigh the cons. Said Harvard Health, “Avoid prepackaged, convenience foods, which tend to be high in fats, and especially those with saturated and trans fats. It is usually cheaper, healthier and smarter to make similar items with your own ingredients.”
Baon tip: Instead of grabbing a packet of cheese-flavored crackers at the grocery store, buy a pack of biscuits and cream cheese or a bottle of peanut butter and pack those.
4. Make food easier to eat What’s stopping your preschooler from munching on that apple you packed him? It could be because it’s too cumbersome to eat. Your child’s goal during break time at school isn’t just to eat, it’s also to dash out of the classroom and play with his classmates. Baon that’s a hassle to eat can go ignored.
For young children, prep the food into bite-sized pieces. “Peeling and slicing fruits and vegetables at home often make them easier to eat at school,” said Harvard Health. “A child with a loose front tooth could eat apple slices but not easily bite into a whole apple.” Slice meat, like pork chop, into smaller bites too.
Baon tip: Invest in a separate small container just for fruits. Make it a habit to check if you’ve filled it up and placed it in your child’s lunchbox every morning. Food picks, like those colorful plastic ones with characters on top, make fruit more fun to eat.
Bananas and apples may turn brown when sliced and packed but other fruits like orange, pineapple, melon, grapes (cut in halves), and watermelon take packing well.
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5. Get feedback! If your child barely touched his baon, ask him why (nicely!). Then, see if he has suggestions on what he wants instead. “Involve your child in deciding what to make for lunch together. He is more likely to eat his lunch if he has helped prepare it,” said Harvard Health.
“You just have to listen to your child,” said mom Twinkle Lacsamana who shares her baon creations on Instagram. “Find out what they want, and if 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,” said the mom.