Teach Your Kids How to Make a Green Salad

Brainy Bunny is the mother of two. Together they read, craft, and play games for fun.

A beautiful green salad made by children's hands

A beautiful green salad made by children's hands

Teaching Healthy Eating Habits

For most of us who cook dinner every day, throwing a green salad together is something we can do with our eyes closed. However, people aren't born instinctively knowing how to make a salad. When I was about 10 years old, my mother decided to delegate the job of making the salad for dinner to me. I was proud and excited to be deemed worthy of such an important job, but I froze. I didn't know how to make a salad, even though I had seen plenty (and even eaten a few, though not as many as my mother would have liked). My mother eventually walked me through the steps, and now it is my turn to do the same for my kids. Why not teach yours, too, so they can get a start on healthy eating for life?

The ingredients for a basic green salad at our house

The ingredients for a basic green salad at our house

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients

It may sound silly to you, but start with the absolute basics. Explain to your kids that the base of a salad is usually some kind of lettuce (the green in green salad), and that the other ingredients can vary according to taste and what's available. Some common green salad ingredients are:

  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • olives
  • cucumbers

For a fancier salad, you can add more exotic ingredients:

  • dried cranberries
  • walnuts or almonds
  • mandarin orange slices
  • chickpeas

But be sure to let your kids know that the recipe for a basic green salad isn't set in stone. If you're out of olives, skip them! If you don't like onions, skip those, too! Have a jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge? You can add them for a pop of color and flavor. Tell them to have fun with it, be creative, and don't stress over "missing" ingredients.

Washing the tomatoes

Washing the tomatoes

Slicing green pepper

Slicing green pepper

Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients

Show your kids how to wash the vegetables. Rinse the tomatoes under running water, wash the seeds out from the inside of the green pepper, and wash the lettuce carefully to remove pathogens, dirt, and tiny bugs. (Kids love to use salad spinners, so if you have one, dig it out and let your kids go wild spinning your lettuce clean.)

If you buy whole carrots, show your kids how to use a peeler safely. Demonstrate proper knife usage for older kids. Supervise closely the first few times as your kids get used to the kitchen equipment.

Just throw everything in!

Just throw everything in!

Now for the fun part — mixing it all up.

Now for the fun part — mixing it all up.

Step 3: Toss It All In!

Here comes the fun part: they get to toss it all in a bowl and mix it up! (Remind them to wash their hands again before sticking them in the salad bowl, especially if they've done other tasks in between prepping the veggies and putting them in.) Your child may enjoy getting creative and arranging every green pepper ring just so, or she may just give the bowl a shake and call it good enough. Don't fret if the salad isn't beautiful, or if it isn't exactly the way you would have done it. Let your child take ownership of the salad and be proud of the grown-up job she's done.


Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 11, 2012:

That's fantastic. Life with kids is hectic, so it's always nice to carve out some special time to do something together. It is only now that my kids are 6 and almost 9 that I have the patience to teach them in the kitchen, but my mother has been cooking and baking with my daughter since she was 4.

L M Reid from Ireland on March 11, 2012:

He does because he loves spending time in the kitchen he does not see it as a chore. We have great talks about everything under the sun when we are preparing the meal.

Of course I have to allow extra time when he helps because everything takes so much longer. It is worth it though because we both enjoy it

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 10, 2012:

Thank you, viking305. Does he prepare fresh cauliflower and broccoli? I was going to show my kids how to do it, but I am afraid they may not be diligent enough yet to wash all the tiny spaces. I suppose I ought to follow my own advice, though, and give them a chance to show me what they can do!

L M Reid from Ireland on March 10, 2012:

I have a 7 year old great nephew who when he stays here a few times a year on holiday has been helping me with the preparation for dinners and of course our salad lunches and picnics.

He can now make a decent salad and sandwiches and loves to do it. I also have him an expert at preparing the sprouts, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower when we have those for dinner too.

It is a good thing to teach any child because as you say they feel proud at achieving something and it will make them able to look after themselves in the kitchen when they get older too.

Thanks for SHARING. Voted up and awesome

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 05, 2012:

Thanks, clevercat. I plan to have my kids make the salad at least once a week so they can get used to doing it. Then, when I really need help, they'll be able to pitch in without instructions.

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on March 05, 2012:

Fun! This is definitely easy enough for just about any youngster to make. Voted up.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 05, 2012:

Thanks, Maddie. And you can throw just about anything you want in there, you're right. One of my daughter's favorite salads includes tuna, chickpeas, and canned great beans over green leaf lettuce, doused in (what else?) ranch dressing.

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on March 05, 2012:

A salad is a great place to have your kids chip in to the cooking! I'm a grown woman and I still think salads are fun to make! You get to throw almost anything you want into them!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on March 05, 2012:

Thank you, Veggie-mom. Yes, my kids happily eat salad when they make it themselves, and are now starting to fuss if I don't have their favorite types of veggies in the house. I'll gladly go to the market if what they want is spinach and carrots!

veggie-mom on March 05, 2012:

Such a great hub! I find that kids are more likely to eat food that they have helped to prepare. Thanks for sharing.

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