We’ve been at home for months now. We’ve brushed up on our cooking skills, baked enough to open a bakery (are you also a banana bread connoisseur?) — but, some days, the thought of cooking one more meal that ends in a mountain of dishes is too much to handle. And as the weather gets warmer, we’d rather be spending our time outside and not chained to a hot oven. So, here’s the solution: make snack plates for dinner a thing every week.
Snack plates are essentially the way toddlers eat (not a bad thing!) and make perfect sense for adults as a simple, vibrant and ultimately exciting meal option that promises a myriad of flavours, textures, colours and nutrients. Start by selecting items that already live in your fridge or pantry. Remember: the plate is still supposed to resemble a meal, so even though it’s snack-style, ensure there’s colourful fibrous veggies and fruit, protein and healthy fats.
Related: How to Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Get Through the Week
What to Put on Your Snack Plate
● Choose veggies that have texture (good crunch), colour and can be grabbed easily.
● Some great examples are carrots, cucumbers, celery, radishes, fennel, bell peppers and snap peas.
● You can also BBQ, roast or saute veggies like onion, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli , cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.
● It’s officially the season for fresh fruit, so add it generously.
● Use fresh mixed berries, sliced apples and pears, pineapple, peaches, nectarines — the list goes on!
● Cut everything small enough so it’s easy and quick to grab.
● If there are dips in the fridge, use them; if they’re half finished or need a little bit of love, drizzle some oil on top, add toasted seeds or nuts, mix in fresh herbs and even sprinkle some spices on top.
● For example, a half eaten hummus container in the fridge can easily be revived by adding some chickpeas, sesame seeds, parsley, tahini, lemon and za’atar on top.
● Or make dips like pesto, roasted red pepper and beet hummus.
● You can keep it vegetarian or use animal proteins (the snack plate is yours to design).
● Ideas include crispy chickpeas, grilled skewers, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, sliders, cooked chicken or fish, lox, tofu or tempeh.
● When choosing a grain, try to find one that’s rich in fibre.
● You may want something that acts as a vessel for dip, stuffed with other ingredients or just added for carby-deliciousness.
● Think: crackers, sliced bread, pita, tortillas, chips, cornbread or savoury muffins.
Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art
Extras and Bonuses:
● These are little delicious bonuses that add punchy flavour or satisfying crunch.
● Things like olives, pickles, toasted cashews, tamari almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dates or raisins.
● You can also add sweetness with dessert-inspired bites like chocolate chips, truffle balls and brownies.
● You can theme your plate based on cuisines you love or based on leftovers that need to be revived.
● For example, if you already have leftover falafel or chicken shawarma, you can make a Middle Eastern plate and add hummus, pitas, pickled veggies and crudite with drizzles of tahini and fresh parsley on top.
● Or if you have leftover ginger soy salmon, you can create an Asian-style theme and add nori chips, steamed dumplings, kimchi, sesame crackers, edamame and lettuce leaf wraps.
Related: Middle Eastern Sumac Chicken With Date Syrup, Lemon and Pecans
How to Assemble It:
● Depending on how many mouths are being fed, choose the size of your plate accordingly. It can be a big platter, a few platters or just a normal size dinner plate.
● This doesn’t need to be Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy, but bonus points if it is!
● Start by adding one item at a time, placing each item either in a few different spots on the platter or in one dedicated spot.
● Your snack plate can be as elaborate or as simple as your heart desires. Then, enjoy yourself an easy, clean-up friendly dinner!
Want some more easy dinner ideas? Try this baked salmon with spicy mango avocado salsa and mint and lemon pearl couscous salad.