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4 Snack Dinner Ideas

BY: Aimee Algas Alker | Mar 27, 2018

A snack dinner is a parents' salvation. Home from a brutal day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is fire up the oven to make dinner for the family. Maybe you haven't gone to the grocery store this week. Maybe you're just not feeling up to cooking. Maybe you just want to not think so hard for the rest of the day.

The snack dinner is just what it sounds like: snacks for dinner. It's great for several reasons. First, you can use up the odds and ends in your pantry and refrigerator that aren't enough for a whole meal. It doesn't require cooking anything. And most of all, it has the word "snack" in it—and kids love snacks.

Calling it a snack dinner makes kids feel like they're getting away with something, and you, dear parent, actually are getting away with something: providing a delicious meal that doesn't require you to cook a darn thing.

The Components of a Snack Dinner

 It's important to note that a snack dinner isn't a cheese board, where cheese takes center stage. No one component of a snack dinner should take the lead in this performance; this is an ensemble, where every item takes an equally important role. A snack dinner is also not a collection of appetizers; though it can include appetizers, they should be ones that don't require cooking.

And though creating—and eating—a snack dinner can be fast and loose, encouraging experimentation and innovation, a few parameters should be kept in mind:

  • The selected foods should be good (both taste and texture) at room temperature.

  • While items may be precooked, none should be cooked just before serving.

  • Beyond dipping, this is a low-effort meal for everyone.

  • No utensils should be required; finger foods are key.

A good formula for a snack dinner is to have at least each of the following: protein, fruit, veggie, grain. A mix of textures and flavors is also good. You'll get bonus points for including something sweet for "snack dessert." Read on for some great snack dinner ideas.


Sample Snack Dinners

Charcuterie for the Family

Protein: sliced salami, leftover meatballs, string cheese
Fruit and veggies: tomatoes, melon
Grain: garlic bagel chips
Dessert: lemon blueberry biscotti 

Instead of a Sandwich

Protein: turkey and ham, cheddar cheese slices, almonds
Fruit and veggies: craisins, baby spinach
Dip: ranch dressing
Dessert: chocolates

Deconstructed Chicken Salad

Protein: leftover rotisserie chicken, pecans, hard boiled eggs
Fruit and veggies: grapes, sliced celery
Dip: hummus
Grain: melba toast, multigrain crackers

The Mediterranean Vegetarian

Protein: roasted chickpeas, feta cheese chunks, leftover falafel
Fruit and veggies: leftover roasted veggies, dried mangoes
Dip: tzatziki
Dessert: candied almonds




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