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Simple tips for making bento boxes for kids
By Featured Blogger Tina Santiago-Rodriguez Updated Thursday May 12, 2016 - 5:18pm
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Mommy Sheila Catilo and daughter with one of their bento box creations. Sheila Catilo

I have a confession to make - when it comes to cooking and meal preparation, I am not exactly the most creative. In fact, if you ask my husband and kids what our weekly meals consist of, they will tell you that our menu is rather "repetitive."

Although this works well for us, I sometimes find myself wishing that I could be as creative as other moms are, like Japanese-certified bento-box maker Kat Maderazo. Maderazo recently had a bento-box-making tutorial in collaboration with Kitchen Creations with Heinz, so I decided to ask her a few questions about what she does. I hope some of you out there will learn a thing or two from her answers (I know I did!):

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Kat Maderazo, Japanese-certified bento-box maker. Sheila Catilo

Tina: Why did you decide to do bento-making workshops?

KM: I decided to do bento-making workshops to share the skills and techniques that I have learned along the way, in my journey of preparing bento boxes for my kids. I hope to inspire other people to include art and love in their food preparation for their families. 

Tina: In terms of ingredients, what kind of products do you look out for? What would you recommend?

KM: I have always been after healthier and natural alternatives. For example, instead of using artificial food coloring for rice, we opted to shade it with Heinz ketchup as the healthier option. I am motivated to be creative in terms of the ingredients I use, as I try to stay away from preservatives and chemically-processed ingredients. 

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Making bento boxes for kids need not be that complicated. You can use the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Sheila Catilo

Tina: Can you please share your top three tips for making bento meals? 

KM: First of all, start with simple designs and work with the food that your child likes to eat. Second, always keep in mind that nutrition should rule design, not the other way around. The design should follow proper portions of food groups, and the creative presentation will follow. Lastly, keep a bento journal so you can plan your designs ahead of time and create a list of ingredients to support your menu for the week. 

Tina: If any of our readers are interested in attending your workshops, how can they get in touch with you?

KM: Follow our Instagram @bentobykat and 'BentobyKat' Facebook account to get workshop updates. They can also send us an email at bentoboutiquemanila@gmail.com or via direct messaging through our Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

In addition to Maderazo's bento-box-making tips, we can also keep the following in mind (from AlphaMom.com):

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Making bento boxes for kids (or yourself!) can be fun! Sheila Catilo

1. Collect your own bento-box-making tools, such as an appropriately-sized box, silicon baking cups, a knife, and cookie cutters.

2. One of the easiest ways to make food in a lunch box or bento box look "nice" is to give them some kind of order, like pile them neatly together or form them into a shape or pattern.

3. When it comes to making bento boxes, you must remember to fill the box completely. If there are extra spaces left after you have packed your main components in, fill them up with smaller bits of food like grapes or cheese cubes.

Have you ever tried making bento boxes for kids? Feel free to share your tips in the comments or send me a message here

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