I made a Korean doshirak (the equivalent of a Japanese bento) for the boy's lunch box today. It's much like the bento concept--a little of different things that look and taste good together. It looks complicated, but it really isn't. It's just the French in me that has this constant urge to make curvy lines out of straight ones, but you can make it as simple but as yummy as you want it to be. You can combine new stuff and repackage some of your leftovers and voila--you have a healthy, good-looking and exciting lunch box. It doesn't have to be super elaborate as mine sometimes tend to be, I can't help it--I'm in the food business. But you can build on what is available in your pantry and the things that you can imagine to make out of it.
Here are some basic things to remember when making your kid's lunch box:
- Everything will be cold by the time he/she eats it. So don't worry about the food being not yummy anymore come lunch time. Believe me, a cold Bistek Tagalog will still taste way better than a cold hotdog. That being said, don't serve soup. Unless he's into gazpacho or borchst.
- Don't serve anything raw.
- Saucy dishes are okay. But if you can separate the sauce, the better it will be. It really isn't very appetizing to eat lunch that looks like it's been toyed with by a two year old. If this can't be done, at least choose a lunch container with separate compartments. That way, the sauce won't be jumbled in one big, icky mess with the rice.
- Drain your fried dishes well on kitchen paper to remove excess oil so that the oil won't be the first thing your kid tastes. Cold oil is just nasty and makes food cloying. It will also stay crispy longer.
- Sneak in your vegetables. My boy now eats beans, sprouts, brocolli, zucchini, eggplant, squash, etc. And you know what? He doesn't even knows he does!
- Lastly, as corny as it may sound, serve it with love. Tell your kid that you tried to make a special lunch and that you'd want to know what he thinks about it when he gets home. Maybe he'll love it or maybe he won't. But you can always talk about how to make a better one the next day.
I know it can be a challenge especially with Moms that have corporate jobs to make these lunch boxes. But even so, you can delegate the job to your household help into making healthier lunch boxes. You can start by limiting your purchase of stuff so heavily laden with coloring and preservatives (read: hotdogs) and just start buying fresher things. You don't have to go cold turkey, I mean what kid doesn't like to eat hotdogs? But feeding them that stuff on a regular basis is just bad. I had to wean my little girl from commercially prepared chicken nuggets and I know, it's a darn difficult thing to do both for child and parent. These little buggers are really quick and can pacify any rambunctious toddler as fast as you can say Backyardigans. But you and I know what these things are made of and it's not fresh chicken, girlfriend. And they don't come cheap too. For that price, I can assure you that you can produce twice the amount of something that you know for sure is fresh and to your child's taste. So what say you?
Today's lunch: Yubuchobap 유부초밥 (Seasoned Tofu Pockets stuffed with Rice), Doejibulgogi 돼지불고기 (Spicy Stir-fried Pork), Spring Onion and Shitake Pajeon 파전 (Korean Pancake)*
*Recipes courtesy of maangchi.com