This DIY Greek Platter dinner spread is an easy 30-minute meal that will satisfy the entire family - from toddlers to grown-ups! Because everyone gets to assemble their own plates, everyone leaves the table happy and satisfied.
Family dinners with little kiddos can be stressful.
Like as in, chug-half-a-bottle-of-wine-straight-from-the-bottle stressful.
Boy, have I been there.
There is always a time crunch to get the food on the table before the 'I'm huuuunnnngry' whining begins. And when you finally do get the meal on the table there is almost always a protest or refusal from one or more members of the family about what you made for them. Even for someone that finds cooking relaxing, it can all get to be too much.
Enter my new favorite way to serve dinner - DIY Family Dinners.
I was going to call it the DIYDS Family Dinners - as in Do It Your Damn Self, but then I thought better of that one;)
Here's the concept behind these DIY dinners - you make an easy spread of healthy food that when finished you leave right on the counter, then everyone gets their own plate and assembles their own meal by themselves. The key for this to work - you have to give plenty of different food options for everyone to be able to create their own meals. That doesn't mean spending hours in the kitchen. Heck no, no-one wants to do that.
This Greek Platter took me 27 minutes from start to finish and has 13 different food options for everyone to pick from. Whatever we didn't eat for dinner, I used for our lunches the next day, so there was no food waste.
There is no power struggle with the toddlers.
There is no more making 3 different meals every night.
There is no fighting over what they put on their plate.
You make it, they plate it.
I started this style of serving our meals a couple of months ago when my 3 year old was being to fuss about what I was serving for dinner and I was surprised by how well it went over with my entire family.
THEY LOVED IT!
In fact, they now request every night be a DIY meal night.
They feel empowered to make their own food choices and don't feel forced to eat what you put on their plate
They get to be part of the process of cooking (without actually cooking anything, cuz I don't have time for that at 6 at night).
They get to put as little or as much of something as they want on their plate
Is great for picky eaters as it encourages kids to try new foods without all of the pressure (kids or adults alike)
Great for kids that don't like eating veggies, I have found that over time my kids now pile the veggies on their plate more then I would imagine and they EAT all of them! Yay!
Whenever we do a DIY meal, I set some ground rules with my kids -
They have to pick at least one veggie and protein (and eat them)
They have to try 1 bite of something new (if there is something new on the menu that night)
And that's it! It's really only 1 rule. And because it's so free, I find that my family loves this style of eating.
Over the last couple of months I have come up with lots of different DIY Family Dinners that I can't wait to share with you! DIY Turkey Taco Bowls, DIY Meatball and Veggie Dippers, DIY Pizza and Salad Night and DIY Asian Chicken with Noodles to name a few. Which one should we make next?
Greek Platter - The Spread
Below you will see what I made for our Greek Platter, but you can add and subtract ingredients based on what your family's taste preferences are, what you are craving or what you have in the fridge. I did a mix of homemade and store bought because I made this on a Monday night and I needed to get it on the table in less then 30 minutes. You can make it all from scratch or use all store bought, it's completely up to you.
On The Menu for Tonight
Easy Greek Chicken - (recipe below). You can also use a rotisserie chicken tossed in some greek seasoning and olive oil for a faster option.
Falafel - store bought or homemade (recipe below)
Hummus - store bought or homemade (recipe below)
Baked Pita Chips - store bought or homemade (recipe below). I baked mine while baking the falafel to save time. You can also use slices of fresh pita bread for younger toddlers.
Bowl of Lettuce - I used bib lettuce but romaine, spinach or any other greens would work great.
Cucumbers - sliced into circles. For toddlers cut into strips or half moons.
Cherry Tomatoes - cut in half. For toddlers cut into smaller pieces.
Red and Green Peppers - cut into strips or chunks
Red Onion - cut into slivers
Sliced Black Olives - drained and rinsed
Feta - crumbled
Feta or Greek Dressing - homemade or store bought
Other Fun Options To Try
Tzatziki - store bought or homemade (recipe here)
Feta Stuffed Red Bell Peppers - recipe here
Artichokes - canned, fresh or jarred in oil, chop for younger kids
Banana Peppers - maybe for the grown ups
Greek Lemon Potatoes - recipe here
Lamb Greek Meatballs - can also use ground chicken, turkey or beef for this recipe
Greek Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) - these take time to make but are delish (recipe here)
Homemade Pita Bread - I think I would eat all of these before dinner was even served (recipe here)
3 and 5 Year Old Plates -
I had all of the Greek Platter ingredients on the counter and my 3 and 5 year old got to pick what they wanted from it. Since I was taking a picture, I helped them load up their plates but usually I will let them serve themselves (which is usually a heap of food on my 5 year olds plate;).
3 and 5 Year Old - They are also basically the same meal (monkey see monkey do for my 3 year old) minus my 3 year old wasn't into cherry tomatoes that night, so she left those off of her plate. Other then that they both wanted chicken and falafel chunks served with a feta dipping sauce, peppers, cucumbers, feta, olives and a couple of pita chips. For the most part, they both polished off their plates.
Grown Up Plates -
Mom - I made mine into a low-carb salad (I am gluten free) which included a huge bed of lettuce, chicken, olives, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, red onion, a squeeze of lemon and all the feta dressing in the world.
Dad - my husband is an on-again off-again vegetarian and he filled his plate with a green salad topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and red onions, pita chips, falafel and hummus with a drizzle of sriracha.
Of course, we both demolished our plates.
Dessert - If the girls eat a good amount of their dinner (they do not need to finish their plates) or at least try everything on their plate, then we serve a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. It's nothing fancy but we all love dark chocolate, so it makes us all happy. If the girls don't get their dessert for some reason, don't worry I eat my chocolate after they go to bed;)
I try really hard to get lunches out of our dinner leftovers and I always prep our lunches after dinner but before I tackle the dishes.
5 Year Old Kindergarten Lunch - cut up falafel with hummus, cut cherry tomatoes with olives, pita chips, cut kiwi and a dried apricot. I use this Planetbox Bento Box for her lunches all the time. My 3 year old had a version of this same lunch.
Mom's Lunch - basically it was the same as my dinner because I couldn't get enough, a bed of green lettuce, chicken, feta, olives, peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes and a lemon. I will drizzle the dressing on before I eat it for lunch.
Easy Greek Chicken
1 pound boneless chicken breasts (I cut mine in half or pound them down to 1/2" thickness so they cook faster)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning (we use this or this brand)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a zip lock bag or glass container, place all of the ingredients in and shake until well coated. Let marinade for at least 5 minutes but 4-8 hours is best. I usually prep this step the night before or in the morning.
2. Heat the grill or grill pan to medium-high, brush grates or pan with olive oil. Place chicken onto the grill or pan and cook 5-6 minutes per side or until completely cooked through. Discard any remaining marinade.
3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut into chunks or strips and serve.
Spinach + Parsley Falafel Patties
2 cups spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
4 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1. Place the spinach, parsley, chickpeas garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse in 2-second increments until well combined.
2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until the falafel mixture is thick enough to handle. Taking 2 tablespoons of mixture at a time, roll mixture into a ball and then flatten into round patties.
3. In a large skillet, heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the patties, or as many as will fit comfortably in the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, checking once to make sure they are not browning too fast. Flip the patties and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides.
4. Heat the additional olive oil and continue cooking until all of the patties are cooked.
Baked Pita Chips
2-3 slices pita bread, cut into wedges
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or a silicon mat.
2. Place the pita wedges onto the baking sheet and brush the tops of the wedges with olive oil, I go pretty liberal with the olive oil. Sprinkle each spice over the pita wedges.
3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden brown, they will continue to crisp up while they cool.
Easy Lemon Hummus
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a food processor or blender, add in the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt and pulse until just combined. Turn the machine on and drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. For a smooth hummus, blend for 1-2 minutes on high speed.
2. Spoon hummus into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional paprika (optional).