Right now, time is scarce. My husband and I just welcomed our second baby boy, and let me tell you, we are THRILLED with his arrival! His demeanor is calm, quiet, and sweet. So far, he’s the perfect little swaddled package, and yet, my energy level is shot! I’m convinced that all new parents would understand my pickle. Perhaps it’s the round the clock nursing sessions, the night feedings, or simultaneously taking care of my older toddler that’s using up my energy. Take your pick—whatever stamina remains at the end of the day, I haven’t wanted to spend cooking. That being said, our family still needs good food, and we need it fast!
Up until now, we’ve been relying on food I cooked and previously froze, specifically for after our second baby’s arrival. And all the gifted food that was flowing in from my WONDERFUL friends and family is now coming to an end. (That sweet deal had to end sometime.) My responsibility to keep our family nourished and eating well is about to start up again.
My husband maintains an amazing garden in our backyard. I’m lucky that it’s his passion and hobby! But with time limitations right now, we haven’t had a chance to cook all the wonderful things we’re he’s growing. In an effort to make use of all the delicious tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from our garden, I like to make a fresh garden salad that lasts our family 2-3 days. I enjoy eating salads on the side of my lunch/dinners, but if I have to make them fresh each time, I just won’t take the time to do it. So I make a large salad for the entire family with garden ingredients, place it in an airtight glass container, cover it with plastic wrap, then put the lid on top. It stays fresh and crisp in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. This works especially well if you use a crispier type of lettuce, such as romaine or iceberg.
An ingenious idea? NO. But useful? YOU BET! It allows our family to have a healthy side of delicious garden vegetables with each meal. Not only is this nutritious for me and my newborn baby since I’m nursing, but it’s AWESOME for my toddler who gets to enjoy the vegetables, too! And let me tell you, if it weren’t for this little garden salad I’ve been making, I’m not sure my sweet little two year old would be enjoying a vegetable all week right now! Here’s what I do…
The Toddler’s Garden Salad:
- I cut up (or tear) his lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, peppers, and cucumbers into small, bite-sized pieces appropriate for his age.
- I give him a small portion on the side of his lunch or dinner—maybe a tablespoon of salad to start. Sometimes I serve the salad plain, and sometimes I serve it with salad dressing on the side or over top. (We change things up to keep it novel!) A few of our favorite dressings are blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.
- If I find that he’s getting bored of a particular vegetable, I’ll change the way I cut it—just to shake things up. It’s amazing how something so small reengages him! If he’s bored with diced cucumbers and they’re barely moving off his plate, I’ll cut them into round thin circles for his next meal. Diced bell peppers getting stale? Cut them into matchstick shapes, and they suddenly start moving again.
What quick vegetable ideas do you have for your family and toddler? Please share them with us in the comments!
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