In the midst of a busy summer evening, we had been playing away outside and lost track of the time. It had been hours since we’d eaten or even thought of food. I heard my daughter’s tummy beginning to growl, and a rumble from mine crept closely behind.
We hurried inside to get dinner started, but by this point, our ravenous bellies were unleashed in full force. My daughter grew incredibly whiny. My hands began to shake as I dug through the cabinets. I quickly realized we had nothing to cook–nothing that could be put together in the very short amount of time that I needed it to come together, anyway!
It was too late for take out. We were too weary and irritable and desperate for a trip to the grocery store.
Panicked and hangry, I did another quick scan of the cupboards, where I just so happened to spot a little red platter. It was leftover from some get-together or holiday, hidden in the deep trenches of my kitchen closet.
The Light Bulb Moment
I sliced some bread, and cut up some fruit. I opened a can of olives and took out some lunch meat. I placed them all on the platter like some deconstructed meal. That night, we cleaned our platter. We ate every last bite. We told stories and laughed. We ate a variety of foods-some healthy, some sweet, some salty, some not-so-healthy. We had fun! And we didn’t even dirty plates!
From that night on, we have made our party platter meal a pretty regular thing. It has become an exciting way to try something new, a fun way to eat a plethora of foods, an easy way to use up random leftovers or food on the fritz, and a nice way to kick off a relaxing evening! It also offers the littles a chance to control what goes on their plate, and how much, from choices discreetly hand-picked by you.
Where to Begin
First off, you need a party platter! One with different compartments is ideal. I picked up my little gem from my dear old friend, The Dollar Tree, but you probably have a sad, forgotten platter lying around somewhere.
Dust that baby off! Or wash it, if your grumbling tummy monster isn’t trying to eat you alive first, of course!
Keepin’ It Simple
Party platter night is ALL about keeping things simple, for us. I try to avoid themes. And cutting finger foods into cutesy shapes is a no-can-do. Sometimes to make it feel fancy, I’ll lay out a tea towel table runner or use leftover party napkins. My daughter loves to pick wild flowers for this special dinner! But I honestly focus more on using what we have available, offering a variety of foods, and putting it together quickly!
What to Put On It
I strive to strike a finger food balance of raw vegetables, fresh fruit, protein, snack food, and carbs. I like to tickle all the taste buds by including sweet, salty, savory, juicy, crunchy, etc. Preferably, our selection of items requires little to no prep work or cook time. A colorful platter is extra fun to eat!
Some suggestions and some of our favorite items include:
If your family’s daily dinner routine has grown stale, you’re a few days late on your grocery store stock up, or you feel you couldn’t possibly bake another casserole, I hope you party platter! Even if you only try it once. It is a big time saver and excitingly delicious! In our household, party platter meal time is definitely here to stay!
Please share with us! Does your family have any fun meal time traditions? Would you consider serving up meals platter style? What’s your go-to party food?