Girl Dinner has entered the chat. IYKYK: it’s a medley of stray ingredients with snack vibes. Leave it to the ‘Tok to turn a low-effort meal into a trending phenomenon. A trend that—like most—comes with plenty of critiques. According to Gen Z, this solo supper has a cult following, and ‘girl dinner’ is blessed with its own hashtag. Ironically, the concept of charcuterie board-ish bites is far from revolutionary. A mealtime snack plate is centuries old. With satisfaction in mind, we’re taking our own spin on this style of eating. Scroll for simple, no-cook grazing menus—aka, humble healthy girl dinners.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
What is a #GirlDinner?
A girl dinner is essentially a plate of small bites—a smörgåsbord of ingredients. It requires minimal effort and equally minimal prep. Think: an adult lunchable. It’s a grazing board of your favorite nibbles: a few pieces of cheese, crackers, veg, and hummus. A freezer waffle slathered in peanut butter with a glass of wine in hand. A bag of popcorn and a lone rotisserie chicken. You get the gist. In many ways, anything goes. In the best (and most random way) possible, a girl dinner is an unsophisticated charcuterie board. Your cravings—and pantry findings—take the reigns.
Are girl dinners healthy?
As with every viral trend, there’s controversy—and girl dinners are no exception. In theory, it’s innocent: throw together an assortment of whatever ingredients sound good. And according to Olivia Maher, the woman behind this popular concept, girl dinners should do just that: hone in on what you want. So in theory, they can absolutely be healthy.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the not-so-subtle hinting that young women should default to dainty, snacky meals. In turn, this reinforces gender stereotypes and, potentially, toxic diet culture. All of that to say, so long as you’re cobbling together enough balanced, wholesome ingredients to satiate you, girl dinners pass with flying colors.
How often should you eat a girl dinner?
There’s no quota. But your intention matters. Say it’s the end of a long day and you want something low-effort. In that case, go for it. Compiling your favorite foods—and kicking your feet up on the couch—is a luxury worth relishing. It’s also a creative opportunity to reduce waste.
That said, if you’re meticulously mimicking low-calorie dinners you see online, it’s a slippery slope. Sparse plates can point to restrictive, comparative tendencies. Not the goal. Additionally, the point isn’t to prioritize ultra-processed foods. When in doubt, use moderation as your model.
Bread and Cheese: A Perfect Girl Dinner Pairing
Skim #GirlDinner on TikTok, and you’ll likely notice some form of grains and dairy (or dairy substitute). No surprise, as this combo is delicious. This popular pairing is a tale of two ancient foods—enjoyed separately and together for millennia. In fact, travelers, soldiers, and laborers often relied on bread and cheese, thanks to its portability and sustenance. Today, it’s evolved into a vast array of bread types and cheese varieties. Toss your favorites on a serving board and et voilà, you have a girl dinner.
How to Make a Healthy Girl Dinner
As women, we’ve long been programmed to view food as the enemy (been there, experienced that). But at its core, girl dinners celebrate the simple pleasure of grazing for a meal. Just make sure you’re tailoring your small plate to two things: your own nutritional needs and your hunger level. If you decide to hop on the trend, consider the following guidelines—they’ll help you stay fuller, longer while keeping blood sugar in check.
Aim for 4-6 ounces of high-quality protein (poultry, eggs, cottage cheese, grass-fed red meat, sustainable seafood, etc.) or 1/2-1 cup of non-GMO soy, beans, or legumes. This is roughly a fist’s size of protein.
A serving of starchy carbs (roasted potatoes, rice, crackers, bread, pasta, etc.). This is roughly 1/4-1/3 of your plate.
About half your plate should be filled with colorful, fiber-rich produce—fruits and veggies like leafy greens, eggplant, tomatoes, and berries.
Last but not least, for hormone health, vitamin absorption, and satisfaction, don’t forget a serving or two of healthy fats: cheese, avocado, olives, nuts, etc.
Healthy Girl Dinner Ideas
With the aforementioned guidelines, let’s get more specific with your healthy girl dinner:
- Protein: hard-boiled eggs (meal prep these in advance!), no-sugar-added beef jerky, deli turkey, rotisserie chicken, smoked salmon, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, raw cheddar cheese, roasted edamame, smoked tofu, etc.
- Starchy carbs: toasted sourdough, pita bread, seedy crackers, corn tortilla chips, whole-wheat tortilla, rice, whole grain noodles, beans, potatoes, beets, banana, apple, etc.
- High-fiber veggies: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby bell peppers, celery, marinated artichokes, snap peas, small side salad, etc.
- Healthy fat: guacamole, nut butter, tahini, hummus, olives, full-fat cheese, etc.
Simple Recipes for Your Next Girl Dinner
To get your creative gears turning, these are a few no-fuss, minimal-prep recipes that totally pass for healthy girl dinners. Enjoy!
Tuna and Avocado Niçoise Toast
No need to labor through an entire Niçoise salad. Instead, whip up these mouthwatering, protein-packed toasts. They’re rich in flavor and texture.
Bruschetta and Tomatoes
This is a solid no-recipe recipe for a simple dinner or lunch. To make this extra girl dinner-friendly, sub the roasted tomatoes for jarred sundried tomatoes. Chef’s kiss.
Smoked Salmon Toast
One more flavorful toast to add to your repertoire! Tangy mustard meets thinly sliced veg, smoked salmon, and fresh herbs. Hot tip: keep a loaf of sliced bakery bread in your freezer. When the restaurant-worthy toast craving strikes, you’re covered.
Breakfast Grazing Board
Spoon out a generous portion of Greek yogurt, chop up any fruit you have on hand, add granola for crunch, and sprinkle on a few seeds. Breakfast for dinner is served.
Work Day Breakfast Board
A simpler version of the breakfast board above, this throw-together meal has a little bit of everything: cheese, veg, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts. It’s the epitome of a healthy girl dinner.
Simple Potato Salad
If you’ve done the leg work to meal prep your potatoes ahead of time, this girl dinner has it all—protein, carbs, and fat. Boil a couple of eggs, toss them with your pre-cooked potatoes, and your girl dinner just got a delicious upgrade.
Grapefruit Avocado Salad
When it comes to this recipe, here are a few girl dinner tips: opt for pre-roasted and packaged beets (sold in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores) and use a bag of roasted chickpeas to save time. Otherwise, this plate of goodness comes together in minutes.