Preparing baon for your kids is not only thrifty, but ensures that they are still eating healthy meals even when they’re not at home.
My son stays the whole day in school, so I always give him rice meals to provide a source of energy. Together with my mom-in-law, who helps me prepare meals, we brainstorm on the meal plan. We try to include his favorite food, and provide enough variety: pasta, hearty sandwiches, rice toppings. However, no matter what we serve, we always make sure the food is prepared in a safe way that prevents spoiling and contamination. In other words, hindi dapat mapanis ang baon niya!
Here are some precautions you can take when you prepare your child’s baon.
- Always wash your hands with water and soap, then dry with a clean towel before preparing food.
- Make sure that the table top is clean. Wipe it down with a clean rag before preparing food.
- Use separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables, cooked meat, and for raw meat products.
- Germs can grow in the knife marks or “grooves” on old cutting boards. Disinfect cutting boards with boiling water after washing them with soap and water. Replace them if they have a lot of grooves.
- Always dry cutting boards before using them. Use a clean kitchen towel.
- Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin of water with a little salt.
Sandwiches and finger foods
- Wrap sandwiches in parchment paper or tissue, so your child can eat it without touching it with his hands. Most diseases are spread by hands – the child touches a dirty table, then his food – so this simple step can help prevent many coughs and colds!
- Attach a hand sanitizer to your child’s lunch bag. Ideally, your child should wash his hands before eating. If not possible, using hand sanitizer is a good alternative.
Containers and utensils
- Use insulated bags to maintain the temperature of the food or drinks.
- Make sure containers for sauces and dips are air-tight and leak-proof. Many condiments (even ketchup) contain sugar, and stains and spills on a lunchbox can attract bacteria. If the sauce spills, wash the lunchbox in hot soapy water.
- Use metal utensils and always wash in hot water to disinfect. Wheat fiber plastic is a good option, too.
- Prepare separate bottles for water and juice.
- Clean water bottles well, including the spot and the grooves in the lid. If you are going to buy a drinking bottle with a straw, make sure that it has a cleaning brush for the straw.
- Plastic food containers should be washed thoroughly, and have no traces of oil. You can soak them in a basin of hot water with a bit of baking soda, then rinse with dishwashing liquid. Glass containers tend to be easier to clean, so consider that when your child is older.
Usually, it’s more convenient to prepare a fried, baked or steamed baon lunch. But if your child loves soup, you can segregate the vegetables and meat from the broth.
Try presenting your usual meat-and-rice meals in a new, appetizing way. Shape rice or mashed potatoes into rice balls, wrap steamed vegetable sticks in bacon, or place food in colorful cupcake liners. I share some of these baon ideas in my blog: http://www.esupermommy.com/category/motherhood-experience/child-care/bento-recipe/
Baon is more appetizing when it includes healthy juice or organic milk. Freeze them the night before, and then place in the lunchbox in the morning. By recess or lunch, the drinks will still be cold and have bits of ice. It’s just like having a fruit shake or milkshake!
My must-haves for baon preparation are: kitchen towels, table napkins or large paper rolls, dishwashing liquid, baking soda, salt, sanitizer, parchment paper or cling wrap, zip lock bags, cutting boards, bread knife, kitchen knives, and of course, cooking pans.
With a creative menu, and food safety practices, your child will have a healthy snack and lunch that’s even tastier than anything he’d buy in the cafeteria.
About The Writer
Jem Alvarado or Mommy Jem is a hands-on mom of two kids. She is a B.S. Computer Engineering graduate, but prefers to work from home to have more time for her family. When motherhood gets tough, she takes a deep breath and in her mind, she whoops “Super Mommy!” That is the inspiration behind her blog, “Experience of a Super Mommy”. For 10 years, she has written about family-friendly products, technology, recipes and menus, healthy living, home improvement, restaurants and hotels, education, parenting tips, and fascinating events. She is passionate about gardening, and has successfully grown herbs, fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables from seeds and cuttings. Visit her website and Facebook.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.