Are We Overthinking The ‘Girl Dinner’ Trend?

Alright guys, we have another controversial food trend to talk about: ‘girl dinner.’

It all started when TikTok creator Olivia Maher saw another creator profess that the “medieval peasant meal,” AKA bread and cheese, is her ideal meal. In her post, Maher agrees and shows her own plate filled with bread, cheese and other random foods, naming it ‘girl dinner.’

The term caught traction immediately and as of today, #girldinner has over 23 million views. However, it’s gone from cute to controversial in a matter of days.

What is ‘Girl Dinner?’

‘Girl dinner’ is essentially a meal made up of random foods. Maybe it’s leftovers, or whatever you can easily grab from your fridge. In some cases, it’s a combination of both.

In my house, we call this an SOS meal, or “fend for yourself night.” It’s not planned and it’s definitely not aesthetic (for me at least).

Think personal charcuterie board, but more chaotic. Closer to a toddler plate maybe? There are no rules for what foods go together. Variety and convenience are what we’re going for.


@siennabeluga Pls put a little more food on that plate babe dont be using girl dinner as camo for your…you know… #girldinner #ededdneddy #fyp ♬ original sound – hanana


Cute to controversial

One major appeal of girl dinner is that it normalizes imperfection. It’s low-effort and fits right in with other slow, anti-hustle culture trends.

Sure, it’s inspiring to see people meal prep and cook balanced and curated meals, but sometimes it gets old. Who can really keep that up all the time? Now we’re seeing people throw random food on a plate and call it dinner, and it’s refreshing.

But food trends are always a slippery slope

Not everyone is on board with this trend, calling out some creators for not eating enough, or even accusing them of covering up an eating disorder.

As a dietitian, I have thoughts.

I live to uncover a diet disguised as a food trend. I approach every single trend with a skeptical eye, including this one. I also have a pretty big appetite (especially at dinner) and agree that some ‘girl dinner’ examples appear to be a little… light.

However, it’s tough to estimate calories based on a TikTok video, and no one should be making judgy comments (and definitely not a diagnosis) about what someone else is eating.

That said, there is always the potential for dangerous habits to form when people share what they eat online. It’s too easy to see someone eating this way once, assume they always eat this way and think maybe if you copy them, you’ll look like them. So take this as a reminder that:

1. It doesn’t work that way – we’re all different with different needs.

2. Social media only gives you a tiny glimpse into someone’s lifestyle.

girl dinner alana lav

Girl dinner is not a method for portion control

It’s what we eat when we are fried, burnt out, and definitely not cooking that chicken we bought on Sunday when we felt a little more ambitious. Maybe tomorrow?

It’s the trendy version of “cereal for dinner.”

And yes, it’s absolutely possible for girl dinner to be a full meal, despite some snarky response posts.

Sure, someone else’s girl dinner may not look satiating to you, but we have to remember that we don’t know what they ate the rest of the day, what their schedule looked like (maybe it’s 11pm and they’re just settling in and need to eat SOMETHING), and maybe… this is just their hunger level today.

Appetites change, sometimes by the minute. Sometimes a light dinner is enough, and sometimes we need to eat more. If you finish your meal and still feel hungry, eat more. It’s that simple.



Girl dinner vs. boy…dinner?

The other side of the controversy with this trend is the way gender is roped in.

In my opinion, “girl dinner” is just a silly name that the original creator shared. It’s just what she calls it, in the same way that I call it “SOS meal.” Am I in true distress when I eat this? No. (Okay maybe sometimes). But I don’t think her intention was to say ONLY women eat this way or that women must eat little snack plates to be feminine.

Sometimes we need not overthink the silly little TikTok trend, okay?

But for the sake of comparison and fun, my husband’s “boy dinner” would totally be something like a granola bar or a piece of chicken. One item only.

Don’t overthink girl dinner

Remember, this trend isn’t something you need to “follow” or mimic just because other people are doing it. If you’re not feeling this type of meal, just keep doing what you’re doing! At the end of the day, it’s just eating.

If you like the idea of girl dinner but feel guilty or stressed because it doesn’t seem “healthy,” focus on adding nutrition where you can without stressing yourself out. Throw a little color on your plate, have some source of fat and protein in there, and do your best.

If it’s not perfect, it’s just one meal out of the day. Sometimes we need to just eat what sounds good and not overthink it! That’s what girl dinner is about.


12 thoughts on “Are We Overthinking The ‘Girl Dinner’ Trend?”

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  1. Ellen says:

    I mean it’s essentially a snack plate with a trendy name for it now. I have a million examples of snack plate combos on my phone because I prefer to eat this way. You can definitely get enough calories and nutrition from it if you think through what you need to hit all your markers (fiber, fat, protein, color).

  2. Allyson says:

    I didn’t know this was a thing until I saw this post, but it’s totally my approach to dinner on most nights. 1) I don’t like to cook anymore. 2) I definitely do not want to cook at the end of the work day. 3) I tend to be hungrier earlier in the day. I usually eat a big lunch, so a snack for dinner is usually perfect for my specific preferences!

  3. elena says:

    I feel like anybody who has a busy schedule would eat this kind of way. Growing up, my parents were always working early in the morning to late at night, so I would help make meals by cobbling up whatever we had in the fridge. It’s literally just taking leftovers/packaged snacks we can find in our cupboards and putting them together on the dining table; nothing fancy about it. This trend isn’t anything new, it’s just getting a new name slapped on it and being posted online. Honestly I didn’t know anything about the ‘girl dinner’ trend until I read this post, so thank you Breanna for this article!

  4. Mary says:

    The name is dumb. I call that sort of thing a “depression pile”.

  5. Kat says:

    I don’t see a problem with the trend itself, but boy do I hate the name lol. Growing up we referred to it as a smorgasbord and it’s useful when you have a bunch of extra leftovers!

    1. Lisa says:

      Yup!! This is what we called it too. And I still use this term when it’s a night we are just going to pull leftovers from the fridge and make a meal of it. I don’t like the name of this trend but it’s definitely not something new. We have a smorgasbord at least once a week and it’s great so we aren’t wasting any food.

  6. Katie S says:

    Lol What a silly trend. Well, they’re all silly. Calling it a “girl dinner”. Pfft 🙄 I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I always called it scavenging because that’s exactly what I was doing. Anything that I don’t have to cook that can fill my belly. That might be a package of pop tarts and a V8 or it might be sausage, cheese, and crackers. And a V8. I always try to add that in so I don’t feel too guilty for the rest of the junk. And it’s really good at filling me up, so I eat less of the rest. 🤪

    1. Hahaha yes scavenging is the best way to describe it!

  7. Janelle says:

    Definitely had smoked salmon, Greek yogurt, and cereal for dinner last week.

  8. Jane says:

    So, I will add a word to this name: single girl dinner. I can’t imagine my husband eat it for dinner, it’sjust appetizer. or if I cook that for dinner for my boyfriend I will never end up married 😆.. Yes, it’s depends what you eat through the day and when do you eat it. Also in my country it’s always so important flot eat warm food and soy to have healthy gut, so my grand ma will have heart attack if she saw that. So for me as a Stay at home mom of two I can have something like that for alone Lunch, when kids didn’t give me a chance to eat warm food. So I do not consider that as a healthy meal.