The next time you just cannot summon the energy to cook a meal…Snack Dinner to the rescue! I love this easy concept because it’s so easy to make one big platter for the whole family to share, or individual plates for each kiddo. And: You can use up so many items you already have in the house!

family-style-snack-plate

Snack Dinner

If your life is anything like mine, you’re busy. And likely tired of cooking and cleaning up every single day. Which is why this easy meal is such a winner.

Sure, I try to cook most nights, but sometimes I need a break. And I want something that’s fun. Which is where the concept of a Snack Dinner comes in.

Think of it as a kid-friendly charcuterie plate or deluxe cheese and crackers. It’s great for warm weather when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen, or any night when you just want a shortcut meal.

We often do this sort of easy dinner for kids on Friday or Saturday nights and it’s super fun. It’s also a really great way to use up leftovers that you might have in the fridge. Sometimes we even pair it up with movie night!

easy toddler dinner snack plate in blue star mold
Snack dinner in a silicone pan

Ingredients You Need

To make a Snack Dinner, you need:

  • Proteins such as cheese, beans, shredded cooked chicken, cooked shrimp, hard-cooked eggs
  • Veggies such as thinly sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, or snap peas; halved cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit such as halved or quartered grapes, raisins, berries, sliced melon, clementine segments
  • Carbohydrates like crackers, sliced bread, Snap Pea Crisps, diced muffin
  • Dips or sauces like hummus, guacamole, Ranch, salsa, and the like
  • Any fun foods or desserts you want to add

TIP: You can review info on How to Cut Food for Toddlers, including specifics on how to safely serve raw veggies.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here are the basics of making a snack dinner that includes a balanced mix of food groups. And that is both nutritious and fun!

  1. Pick 1-2 foods from each food group.
  2. Arrange it on a plate. You can use a muffin tin, a divided plate, or a big platter for everyone to share
  3. Add any dessert or fun foods right into the mix. Serve the “fun” foods or dessert with the other foods.
  4. Add any dips or sauces like hummus, guacamole, Ranch, salsa, and the like.

TIP: In our house, the rule is you can have more of anything on the table as long as we’ve all had some and we’re sharing.

snack dinner with bowls and scissors

Best Tips for Snack Dinners

  • Use whatever you have on hand, or think kid-friendly cheese or charcuterie plate.
  • If doing it for the whole family, have a pair of kitchen scissors on hand to cut up anything that needs to be made smaller for the kids.
  • Try not to push or comment on what specifically they’re eating—this is supposed to be a fun meal!
  • This sort of snack based meal also works really well to pack in a lunch—or you can pack up the leftovers into lunch boxes.
  • Check out my Master List of Finger Foods for more easy ideas for what to include, and my favorite Shortcut Toddler Meals.

What do your kids like in their snack dinners? Chime in below to share!

This post was originally published August 2019.

family-style-snack-plate

Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)

You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 350kcal
Servings 4

Ingredients

Pick at least one option from these food groups:

  • 1-2 cups Proteins: cheese, beans, shredded cooked chicken, cooked shrimp, and/or hard-cooked eggs
  • 1-2 cups Veggies: Thinly sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, or snap peas; and/or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups Fruit: Halved or quartered grapes, raisins, berries, sliced melon, and/or clementine segments
  • 2-4 cups Carbohydrates: Crackers, sliced bread, Snap Pea Crisps, diced muffin
  • 1/2-1 cup Dips or sauces: Hummus, guacamole, Ranch, salsa, and the like
  • Any fun foods or desserts you want to add!

Instructions

  • Choose your ingredients.
  • Slice or prep as needed.
  • Arrange on a platter to serve this family-style or on individual plates.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use whatever you have on hand, or think kid-friendly cheese or charcuterie plate.
  • If doing it for the whole family, have a pair of kitchen scissors on hand to cut up anything that needs to be made smaller for the kids.
  • Try not to push or comment on what specifically they're eating—this is supposed to be a fun meal!
  • This sort of snack based meal also works really well to pack in a lunch—or you can pack up the leftovers into lunch boxes.

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 559mg, Potassium: 284mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 1484IU, Vitamin C: 49mg, Calcium: 268mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. This sounds like a good idea. I read your article on picky eaters and could relate to all of it so happy it’s all normal! My daughter is 19 months. Do you think she might be too little yet for that many options? A lot goes on the floor and squished in her hand! ha. Thanks!

  2. My 2 1/2 year old has been wanting snack a lot. Just this week he argued about not wanting dinner, just snack. I made soup and PB&J, so I gave him the veggies from the soup without the soup, cut the sandwich into bite-sized pieces and gave him other finger foods such as grape tomatoes (which he loves!), mandarins and other cut up fruits/ veggies on hand. I served it all without silverware. He was pleased to have “snack” and he ate a good dinner.

    I thought of some of your recipes and how you encourage choice and not fighting them on eating. Just by changing my thinking, I avoided a power struggle over eating and he had a good meal. He has since been eating regular meals and having snack at snack time. Thanks for the simple and healthy recipes as well as a good mindset for feeding toddlers.

    1. She ate this as her dinner at about 5 pm. Us adults had stir fry with rice:) We hardly ever have different dinners, but she needed to eat fast that night!