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Podcast 293: Anticipate Pandemic Regret, an Easy Household Hack, and a Deep Dive into Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables.


Update: We've announced our next book club choice: Yaa Gyasi's unforgettable novel, Transcendent Kingdom (AmazonBookshop). Start reading, and post your questions and comments here or on social media using #happierpodcastbookclub. We've already started receiving great comments from readers.

Alas, I'm so sorry—I forgot to note the name of the thoughtful listener who suggested that, as a gift for Elizabeth, I might find a copy of the original Hungry Hungry Hippo game on eBay. This was such a great idea—I immediately bought a set and sent it to Elizabeth. Thank you, listener!

Try This at Home: Anticipate pandemic regret. In the future, what will you wish you'd done with this time? 

Of course, many people have no extra time, or are struggling just to get through this difficult period. That is so, so rough.

But for some people (like Elizabeth and me), this unusual period does offer some opportunities.

We talked about the idea of doing a pre-mortem (also mentioned in episode 131) and of thinking about your future-self.

Happiness Hack: Replace a standard round door knob with a lever-style door knob, so you can open a door when your hands are full.

Deep Dive: Listener suggestions about encouraging children to eat vegetables.

In episode 288, Elizabeth gave herself a demerit because Jack wasn’t eating enough vegetables. This really struck a nerve! We got a huge response from listeners.

I mention the brilliant children's books about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Amazon, Bookshop). These are among my favorite books ever—wonderful, hilarious for both children and adults. Also great as audio-books.

Note: These ideas require no prep or minimal prep. Many people suggested actual recipes that require cooking, and those sounded great, but here we're highlighting the truly simple solutions.

As many people noted, the Strategy of Convenience is very useful to keep in mind: the more convenient it is to do something, the more likely we are to do it.

The most popular suggestions:

  • Offer fresh vegetables with a dip like hummus, guacamole, ketchup, tzatziki, or ranch dressing.
  • Make smoothies with frozen fruit, and perhaps throw in some vegetables, like spinach or kale.
  • Buy frozen vegetables, and even more convenient, the steam-in-bag kind.

Additional suggestions:

  • Start a garden box with easy-grow items; growing vegetables makes kids more interested in eating them.
  • Blanch green beans, serve with butter.
  • Split a banana or an apple, and spread with sunflower seed butter or peanut butter. 
  • Try exotic fruits and vegetables as an adventure.
  • Try cauliflower and carrots in different fun colors.
  • Have Jack find a healthy recipe online that he wants to learn how to make, and then learn to cook it together.
  • Try edamame.
  • Try raw cucumbers with salt.
  • Try raw cherry tomatoes—fun to eat because they're bite size and explode when you bite into them, and come in different colors (red, yellow, green, purple). 
  • If your child is sensitive to texture, serve raw vegetables such as sliced bell peppers (not the green ones), sliced carrots, raw cabbage, undressed salad, and snap peas.
  • When ordering take-out, add vegetables on the side, or as substitutes for other side dishes—e.g., ask for steamed broccoli instead of french fries.
  • Roast vegetables on a sheet pan with oil—and perhaps a sprinkling of cheese, too.
  • Try vegetable sushi.
  • Try soup—if you don't want to cook, you can find great pre-made soups in the prepared-foods aisle.
  • Experiment with fancy salads such as Nicoise or Cobb—kids can pick out the parts they like. 

Gretchen's Demerit: Instead of reading through the exchanges in a complex email chain, I jumped in at the end, which created a lot of unnecessary confusion and wasted time.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to her friend Roxy, for suggesting that they play mahjong as two couples.


  • We have merchandise! There are Four Tendencies and Happier podcast t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags. Buy something for yourself, put an item on your holiday wish list, or purchase gifts for others here.
  • Looking for more great podcasts? Happier with Gretchen Rubin is part of "The Onward Project," a family of podcasts brought together by me—they’re all about how to make your life better. If you like our podcast, you’ll probably also like Elizabeth’s other podcast, Happier in Hollywood, Chris Guillebeau’s show Side Hustle School, Do the Thing from Whole30’s Melissa Hartwig Urban, and Everything Happens with Kate Bowler.

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