This schoolyear is my second year to run a preschool. And my first year taught me a lot. As in a lot. So my teachers and I took serious note of all the nuggets of wisdom we learned from our first year. Result? A super-duper lengthy Parent Orientation on the Saturday before our first week of classes.
One of the things we lengthily discussed was about school baon. Yep, snacks. Akalain n’yo ‘yun, ‘di ba? That’s because last year, we noticed that many of our students’ baon were either unhealthy or too difficult to eat. Like there were students (three-year-olds!) who brought candies and chips to school. And then one of my teachers reported that one her students brought—kumapit kayo—bangus! Yes, as in pritong bangus. Take note, hindi boneless! Therefore si Teacher ay naghimay ng bangus to the tune of Freestyle’s So Slow. =D
Honestly, I never thought it would be an issue, because when I was still accompanying Raviv in his classroom at Rainbow (during first first 4 days when he was 1.7 years old), almost all of his classmates’s snacks were healthy and easy to eat. No one brought rice or chocolates. Fruits, cereals, and sandwiches abound. We followed suit. So I was surprised when I noticed that many of our students’s baon were either junk food or hard-to-eat brunch. Then I realized that most of Raviv’s classmates at Rainbow then were foreigners. Ergo, they weren’t rice-and-ulam obsessed. And some of them were vegetarians, so fruits galore.
I don’t really blame parents when their children’s snacks are not exactly healthy or easy to eat. Because it’s actually difficult to think of baon that’s healthy and at the same time easy to eat. Everyday pa. Eventually, you’ll run out of ideas and you’ll turn to what’s easy to prepare. Add the fact that children could be quite picky and would sometimes refuse to eat what their moms painstakingly prepared for them.
But pat me on the back. Because ever since he started going to school, Raviv’s baons have almost always been (relatively) healthy and easy to eat. I personally attend to it. So in Raviv’s last week of school last year, I started documenting his snacks so I could share them with you and you would have an idea of what to pack in your child’s snack bag.
(These were my son’s ACTUAL baon. Like many moms, I’m also busy and I don’t have time to decorate my child’s baon. So don’t expect artistically prepared baon. Realistic lang. 😉 )
- Secrets of the Valley (cherry, green apple and grapes) 100% juice
- Strawberry-flavoured yoghurt
- fried plantain banana (saba)
Raviv’s Verdict: His teacher said that Raviv loved his yogurt (he even licked the lid cover, hehe). He also ate some of the fried bananas, but he wasn’t too crazy about the fruit juice.
- Non-fat high-calcium fresh milk (not that I was too keen on the non-fat, but this was Randy’s and it was the only one available in the ref)
- Organic Granola bar (not that I’m particularly impressed with the organic thingy—my Mom is a geneticist and swears that there is nothing wrong with GMOs)
- Monde blueberry muffin
Raviv’s Verdict: He finished the granola bar, did not touch the muffin, and drank the fresh milk (but told me he didn’t like the fresh milk)
- 100% Red grape juice
- cubed golden honey dew
- 1/2 cheese sandwich (raisin wheat bread)
Raviv’s Verdict: Raviv finished the honeydew only. He didn’t eat the sandwich and didn’t drink the juice. The honeydew was probably too filling already, because I know he likes cheese sandwich. He drank his water instead of his juice.
- 100% Strawberry kiwi fruit juice
- oatmeal raisin cookie chips
- fried plantain banana (saba)
Raviv’s Verdict: Raviv finished everything, except for the juice.
- 100% Carrot & mixed fruits juice
- Greaseless salted peanuts
- Cashew tart
- Cavendish banana
Raviv’s Verdict: A little of everything, and everything went down into Raviv’s tummy! These were just our snacks tira-tira, but none went to waste as Raviv loved the medley of flavours: something salty, something that’s a little sweet and something a little sweeter, and something a little bit sour.
Frequently Asked Questions of Parents, and Answers from the Point of View of Teachers
Q: Why are you not advocating rice and ulam as baon?
A: That’s because it is often difficult and messy to eat. Even if the teacher and teacher aide assist your child in eating, remember that they are also assisting your child’s classmates! When all children bring food that’s difficult to eat, the allotted break time is not enough and teacher’s other lessons/activities will be cut short. Aside from feeding the children individually, the teachers also pack away the children’s food and clean the tables and floors after. Break time is not a downtime in a preschool (of course it’s a different story if we are talking about grade schoolers who eat lunch at school).
Q: But my child did not have breakfast! I want her to have a complete meal.
A: Then prepare a sandwich for her. A simple cheese sandwich will do 🙂 Wheat bread gives carbohydrates and fiber, while the cheese provides calcium and protein. Add some fruit slices and voila! It’s way more nutritious than the hotdog and white rice combo you were planning.
Q: I am not particular about what my child eats. Why should I bother to pack him healthy foods? If he gets sick, that’s on me. I’m OK with him eating chocolates and junk food, because he drinks vitamins anyway. And he eats healthy at home.
A: Weh, hindi nga? Joke! 😀 But seriously, even if you’re OK with the junk food at school, please think of your child’s classmates. When they see your child’s mouthwatering chocolate drink, the 100% fruit juice they were excited to drink suddenly becomes too sour for them. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Parents should be united in making all children eat healthy.
Q: But if I pack “healthy food” for my child, what if he doesn’t eat it?
A: We recommend packing more than one kind of snack. You may have noticed that I prepare at least two kinds of food for my son. I know that he can’t finish everything, but I make it a point for him to have more than one kind of snack. That way, if he does not like one, he could choose another. One thing about kids is that they like having choices. It makes them feel empowered. And if your child is really hungry, I believe he’ll eat whatever you prepared for him.
Q: Do you recommend making my child’s baon look nice? Should I exert effort in decorating it?
A: No. Because chances are: 1) You won’t be able to sustain it if you’re a busy mom; and 2) By the time your child eats it, your “work of art” will most probably have been destroyed anyway (natutumba ang baunan sa bag, etc.) Focus on the content na lang. 🙂
Q: Any other baon suggestions?
A: Let me share with you the list of healthy snacks (that are easy to eat!) we also shared to the Gymboree Sta. Rosa Preschool parents. These are realistic, and everything may be bought from the supermarket, fruit stands and bakeshops.
- fresh fruits (melon slices, kiwi fruit, grapes, Cavendish banana, peeled oranges, pomelo and other citrus fruits)
- boiled/fried plantain banana (saba) or sweet potato (camote)
- Filipino delicacies (suman, puto, bibingka, kakanin, biko)
- hardboiled eggs
- cheese and crackers
- mini-sandwiches/pandesal with healthy spreads (lean ham and tomato, peanut or other nut butters, mashed avocado and cream cheese, chicken and lettuce, cheddar and grated apple, mashed sardines with greek yoghurt)
- oat bars and wholegrain cereals
- plain popcorn
- pasta (mac & cheese, baked mac)
- oatmeal cookies & pastry (preferably homemade)
- homemade pancakes & waffles
Q: Other reminders?
A: Aside from the healthy snacks, please ensure your child has the proper utensils for his food. If her baon is yogurt, make sure she has a spoon for it (spoon for children, please!) If you prepared fried banana, don’t forget to pack fork. If your child is allergic to chicken skin but his baon is chicken lollipop, then you should remove the skin. Even though you told your child’s teacher of his allergies, don’t be complacent—What if teacher is absent and there’s a substitute teacher who doesn’t know your child’s allergies?
And lastly, prepare your child’s food lovingly. Imagine how the healthy foods will help make him taller, stronger and smarter; and how the junk foods will cause his teeth to decay or strip off important nutrients from his body.
Hope this post helped. Enjoy! 🙂
If you have more baon tips, I’d love to hear them! Please comment below. 😉