The “girl dinner” song has been stuck in my head for weeks now. Every time I find myself eating something that could fit the criteria, the song plays in my mind.
Is it the catchy tune or do I just feel a connection with this trend?
Wait. Dietitians eat girl dinner?
My opinion after a summer of deep, scientific girl dinner research is that everyone has their own version of girl dinner. I’ve always referred to it as scavenging or, now that I’m a mom, “survival mode” meal. I think the TikTok-given name bothers some people, but we can all relate to scavenging, right?
If you cringe at the small portion sizes shown on TikTok, think about it this way: One beauty of girl dinner is that it does the job whether your appetite is big or small. You can graze if that’s what you’re feeling, or really pile together a hefty plate of anything that sounds good. I don’t think this trend ever meant to imply that girls eat small, dainty portions.
From where I stand, girl dinner/scavenging is a tool. I’m a fan.
A dietitian’s girl dinner
When I was in college, almost every dinner was girl dinner. I didn’t have to cook for anyone but me and the structure didn’t matter. I could eat almonds straight from the bag with avocado toast for dinner and not worry about anyone else’s opinion.
Now that I have a family, scavenger meal is more unhinged than it is fun. But we still love it.
What level of effort do I have to work with?
This is important. If the day is going well, there’s a good chance that I will put some effort into my meal.
If I’m scavenging a meal for my entire family because I procrastinated grocery shopping or we have a busy evening with no time to cook, we’re going to dock some effort.
And finally, if the day is pure chaos – some or all of my family has come down with some kind of germ, we had a day of birthday parties and we’re doing whatever it takes to just get everyone in bed ASAP, or I’m just DONE (moms, you know what I mean) – effort will be minimal.
Now that we’ve established my levels of effort, here are some of my go-to girl dinners.
Loaded Microwave-Baked Potato – (Effort: 5/10)
My favorite, but the most time-consuming. I just heat up a potato and fill it with anything I can find. Butter + garlic salt always.
Nachos – (Effort: 2 – 5/10)
Chips + guacamole cup + chicken. The chicken may be leftover from another day, shredded rotisserie chicken, or frozen grilled chicken. Maybe another protein entirely (beans or ground beef). Whatever’s available.
Mini Pizza (Effort: 3/10)
Resorting to a DIY Lunchable isn’t only about convenience. There’s just something comforting about tiny, sometimes cold pizzas. Sometimes I make these with English muffins, mini bagels, or tortillas. It really just depends on what I have.
Pantry Charcuterie (Effort: 2/10)
A beautiful assortment of whatever we have in our pantry. This could include any arrangement of PB+J, chips and salsa, cereal, nuts, or crackers. Next, we move to the fridge to find cheese, turkey slices, or leftovers. We’re doing our best for protein. Nothing is off-limits. We complete the plate with at least one fruit or veggie.
A sweet treat
One thing about me is I almost always need a little sweet treat after a meal. Some girl dinner-themed faves include a mug cake, microwave s’mores, and raspberries with chocolate chips.
A few tips!
Confession: My girl dinners aren’t always 100% random. Healthy eating and balance are always on my mind, even when I’m fried or super busy (I mean, it’s my job). Here are a few things I try (TRY) to keep in mind, even when I’m making survival mode scavenger meals.
I try to have a protein and a fruit or veggie. Once I have those elements secured, I don’t overthink the rest.
Can I add anything?
I’d rather spend my energy adding nutrition than trying to avoid something. Cheese crackers are far from the gold standard of nutrition, but I can ADD a side of veggies (fresh or frozen) and some berries. There’s almost always an opportunity to add something.
The big picture
This is one meal out of one day. No matter how unbalanced, “unhealthy,” or just plain weird it is, I don’t feel guilty about it. Even if I don’t get one of the pillars I mentioned. It will be okay.
What’s your go-to girl dinner?!
Keep some of these in your back pocket! We all lean on these meals sometimes.