It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and your child just got home from school. She puts down her school bag while handing over to you her lunch box that you inspect every day. You open her lunch case and see her baon still intact and untouched.
It's a common story — moms who painstakingly prepare their kids’ baon only to discover later on that their efforts in preparation just went to waste. So, what could explain this? What are the possible reasons why kids don’t eat their baon?
Problem: The baon is cold and greasy.
Nothing beats eating hot meals. Unlike in most offices, where employees are provided with microwave ovens in their pantries, most schools do not have the same perk. The kids are left to eat their baon straight from their baunan, which they are now hesitant to touch because it’s cold and sometimes greasy.
The first solution to this problem would be to buy a thermal or insulated lunch box that can keep your child’s baon warm and fresh for several hours. The second option is to choose dishes or snacks that remain delicious even without reheating. These include sandwiches, Japanese rolls, salads, burritos or viands that are not greasy and do not omit any foul smell when they open it.
Who would be enticed to eat a plate of soggy, greasy and lonely looking fried chicken?! The meals don’t have to be Pinterest pretty, but you might want to garnish their baon with some touch of color. A sprig of parsley, a slice of cucumber, lemon or even tomato will definitely spruce up the appearance of their food, somehow.
Problem: The baunan looks unpleasant.
The lunch box is a crucial factor too in making your food look appetizing and convenient to eat. You want your child to beam with with every time she takes out her lunch from the bag.
There are LOTS of nice-looking food cases that don’t command a steep price. It would be wise to get a food container with a good size, acceptable quality, and an appealing appearance. Lunch cases with three partitions are usually the handiest and practical container. It gives you space for the rice, viand, and dessert in one box or container.
Avoid packing foods that give off a foul odor when the containers get opened. Don't cover their lunch containers when the food is still very hot. The moisture it creates from the steam usually makes an unpleasant smell after a few hours.
Problem: Your child may have low to zero appetites during lunch or snack time.
Believe it or not, there are children who perceive eating as a mere necessity than a pleasurable experience. Boost your child’s appetite by keeping her active. Being active will boost her metabolism which will, in turn, improve her appetite. Give her her favorite food (no matter how few they may be) to constantly whet her appetite. Always remember to make your food presentation appealing to her picky taste. Moreover, strive to know what dishes or spices can entice her to eat well.
Find out what dishes would make her drool to the point of finishing her baon. Ask yourself, does she really like the food in her lunch case or is it something that you just force her to eat? Put yourself in her shoes. Have you ever wondered if she liked fried chicken better than adobo? Or pasta instead of pancit?
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When you plan her baon menu for the week, involve your child in the process. She will be happy to know she gets a say in what she eats, and you won’t be left guessing all the time.
One last note, if your child who often comes home with her baon untouched and you suddenly find out it isn't the case anymore, be a little wary of the empty lunch case. It is possible that a classmate in your child's school has been preying on her — I have heard of horror stories in grade school about bullies who steal their classmate’s baon. These kids find pleasure in taking away something important from their ‘victims,’ and in this case, their baon.
That is why it is important to communicate with your children all the time. In case you notice something is amiss, it is best to report right away to the school authorities.
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Now, let's be the best cook — at least for our kids.
Caren Bayhon-Yrastorza is a former news anchor at ABS-CBN News Channel and a food writer/stylist/blogger. She delights in whipping up delicious dishes with matching food styling at home and sharing the recipes upon request. You may follow her kitchen adventures at #KitchenOfCarenYrastorza on Instagram.