Housewife creates fun meal boxes for picky eater daughter

Tan (left) showing her daughter Aries, 17, the cute bento boxes she made at their home in Taman Impian Emas.

JOHOR BARU: A housewife has been putting her creativity to good use by making bento boxes in efforts to get her child to eat better.

Tan Li Lian, 42, started making the cute and colourful meal boxes seven years ago for her then 10-year-old daughter, who was a picky eater and often struggled to finish her food.

“I had to get creative and find ways to make food look attractive so that she would finish her meals.

“Since she liked Japanese food, I made bento boxes with rice, vegetables, meat and fruits cut and shaped into cartoon or Pokémon characters, animals and all sorts of shapes and sizes.

“It was a hit and she polished off all the food, which motivated me to look for more ideas and recipes on the Internet to expand my menu, ” she said when met at her home in Taman Impian Emas here.

Tan, who was a nurse at a clinic for 20 years before resigning about four years ago, said she had always wanted to explore cooking but could not find the time because of the working hours she had previously.

She said with more time on her hands as a housewife, she could prepare healthy meals for her daughter and husband, who was a storekeeper at a food and beverage factory in Singapore.

The mother-of-one added that it took a few attempts to get the recipes right before turning them into cute looking snacks, cookies and pastries using healthy ingredients such as pumpkin, sesame seeds and yam.

She prepares the bento boxes at least three times a week, waking up at 5am to cook and pack them for her daughter to take to school.

“I will usually make extra portions as my daughter’s classmates too wanted the special meals.

“Although it takes more time and effort to prepare the meals, it is well worth it when I see my daughter finish her food, knowing that she has consumed a healthy and balanced meal, ” she said.

Tan also enjoyed sharing photos of her lovely creations with friends on social media and found it amusing when they commented that she made luxurious spreads daily.

“Good food does not have to be expensive. The meals I prepare are made from common ingredients such as rice, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrots.

“It just takes a little more time and effort to make them look and taste good, for the benefit of my family, ” she said.

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