Salad. Tastes good. Good for you. Huge pain in the neck to make.

Even when it was just the husband and I eating dinner, I would mean to make us a salad, but end up running out of time or motivation and just steam some broccoli again.

Now with a houseful of kids to feed, each with his own salad preferences, it felt pretty much impossible to serve salads.

Until . . . 

It occurred to me that I could do the prep work in advance, and let everyone make his own salad, just the way he likes it. We’ve been doing it for a couple of months now, and it’s been a huge success.

Here’s how I do it:

1. The husband (with lots of helpers) has transformed our front yard planting area from a flower bed into a Victory Garden. It makes sense for us for reasons of convenience, economy, and general WWI throwback awesomeness.

Currently, we are growing cabbages, lettuces, herbs, and tomatoes. Plus citrus trees.

We may branch out from here, but those have been going well so far. I’d like to eventually try to grow root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions, but I am really concerned that if I don’t see them as I walk into the house everyday (since they are under the ground) I will forget that they’re in there.

I also buy lots of veggies at the store, a mix of favorites and stuff that’s on sale. I don’t buy organic, and I don’t sweat it.

2. Once the veggies are inside my house, I wash them and chop them all up. All at once.

I’m much better at infrequent big jobs than I am at getting repetitive daily tasks accomplished. So this works for me. I only have to get to it once per week.
I store them in plastic Gladware containers in the fridge. They stack easily, and are light and unbreakable, which means the kids can set up the salad bar and break it down themselves. 
This has been a great job for my four year old to do while older kids are setting the table before dinner or doing the dishes afterwards.

3. Now, no matter what I’m serving for dinner, we set up the salad bar. The whole family is eating many, many more vegetable than we used to. We encourage kids to have seconds of salad if they go back for seconds of the main course. And since they get to make their salad just the way they like it, there’s much less grumbling than there used to be.

If you are looking for ways to get your family eating more veggies, this might work as well for you as it does for us.

Bon appetit!

And happy Feast of St. Joseph! 

To read all about the crazy thing we’ll be eating tonight, click here.

And . . . In case you’ve been wondering about the state of my desk and what terror-inducing picture books were my favorites as a child, Divina at Beauty of the Picture Book has an interview with yours truly up today that will answer all those questions and more. Plus a giveaway of A Little Book About Confession for Children. Check it out!