Bento moms put the cool in school ‘baon’

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A group of young Filipino moms is helping take away the stress of preparing daily food or baon for their school-age children and is instead advocating fun in the kitchen.

Long-standing friends April, Kaye, Monet, Mia, and Olive—collectively known online as “The BentoMommas”—are putting the cool back in school with their truly unique, resourceful and creative lunch meals meant to inspire their kids to eat.

Many parents have already taken to this current craze of bento baon, or preparing compact meals in handy containers utilizing colorful and fun food ingredients. However, The BentoMommas have definitely taken the concept to a whole different level—what used to be a mere pastime has turned into a passion.

What sets them apart are the knowledge, skills and support that they extend to each other within their group. One of the members, Kaye Sy-Catral, recalls how they got started in the art of bento-making way back in 2008, with a baon they created based on the then-popular “Despicable Me” cartoon movie.

“Our kids loved our masterpieces so much that they took pity on the edible minions, didn’t eat them, and brought the minions back home,” she recounts with a laugh. “That episode made us realize that after almost a decade of friendship and a common love and addiction for bento, we worked well as a team.”

These days, The BentoMommas have gained popularity and following on Instagram and Facebook. They even trend with the help of their own hashtag, #bentomommas. Like most mothers, they face the daily challenge of preparing packed baon that their children will want to finish eating.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the responsibility, Sy-Catral and fellow BentoMommas easily seek inspiration from their kids’ favorite video games, movie and TV cartoon characters, and anything kawaii (the Japanese word for “cute” commonly describing bento creations). These serve as their guide in coming up with adorable characters sculpted from rice, vegetables, and fruits. They’re also inspiring other moms who do bento by posting a theme for the week on their online page.

The BentoMommas ensure that the baon they prepare is healthy and balanced, usually containing a combination of the following: one portion of “Go” foods like rice, bread, pasta, or corn; one portion of “Grow” foods such as chicken, pork, beef, fish, egg, and cheese; and two portions of fruits and vegetables which fall under the “Glow” category. “You may also squeeze in a bit of cereal, chips, chocolates and gummies that serve as treats, as well as accents to the bento box,” adds Sy-Catral.

Above all, they take concerns like food freshness and leaking containers seriously, which is why The BentoMommas have turned to a brand of food protection products they know they can trust.

Sy-Catral shares that they particularly enjoy working with Glad products because they really help keep food fresh longer. “The GladWare Entrée Containers are one of our favorite bento boxes because they’re spill-proof, air-tight, roomy, reusable, and stackable for easy storage,” she says. The sturdy and durable containers are also able to keep the aesthetic appeal of their creations, which they painstakingly prepare by hand.

Glad Press ‘n Seal Wrap is also useful in protecting and storing the individual food components that they use, such as vegetables and fruits. They prepare these ingredients beforehand and store them conveniently in the refrigerator. Instead of plastic gloves or bare hands, they prefer to utilize Glad Sandwich and Storage Zipper Bags in handling rice and molding them into fun shapes.

Although their finished bento boxes may look intimidating for beginners, Sy-Catral assures that moms can actually use whatever is already in the pantry to come up with a satisfactory creation. “You can place a serving of rice in a Glad resealable bag, and then shape it into whatever form you wish–just like molding clay,” she shares. “You can use the rim of a glass to cut circles out of bread, and you can use straws to shape eyes out of cheese or ham. But the most important tools come dirt cheap—free, in fact. They’re called imagination, creativity, and a sense of humor.”

For these BentoMommas, the greatest incentive is seeing their kids’ empty Glad containers at the end of each school day. Kaye concludes, “What also gives us great pride and joy is that, we are able to connect with fellow bento-loving parents here and abroad.”

Just like tucking little loves notes inside your child’s lunchbox, preparing a thoughtful bento box is an even more memorable gesture that is sure to be appreciated. Ensuring an appetizing and healthy meal is made even more possible with products like Glad food and storage solutions.

Glad food and storage solutions are a perfect choice for today’s discriminating bento-crazy moms who must strike a balance between cuteness and ample food protection.

Glad helps ensure the freshness and taste, as well as the painstaking aesthetics of bento baon meals