Ever since the days of preschool playdates, monkey platters have been a mainstay in our household. Forget trying to craft edible and allergen-free creations for eight unruly and opinionated preschoolers. The monkey platter pleases and nourishes all. The inspiration credit goes to my second child, who was and still is a bit of a food separatist. No need to cook elaborate casseroles for this child when she’d prefer foods not to mix. There is something to be said about the simplicity of foods in their most basic form and these platters can be made to the specifications, preferences, and allergens of each child.
Definition: Monkey Platter – noun – A plate of assorted finger foods requiring little preparation and satisfying an array of tastes and nutritional needs. The term Monkey Platter was popularized by Unschooling guru Sandra Dodd, though may have been always been a universal concept.
I break out the monkey platter on days or nights when I just can’t bear the thought of trying to come up with a meal that everyone can agree on. You can get fancy or keep it simple. I usually fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I’m not going to create elaborate art out of my children’s food, but I do like to use things like toothpicks, tiny forks, and small bowls to make the eating experience more interesting and enticing. Fun plates with individual compartments can also add to the visual appeal and fun. An ice cube tray or muffin tin can serve this purpose in a pinch!
Some of our favorites include:
cubed cheese with toothpicks (or not)
soft goat cheese
Dips and Spreads: (some purists will tell you that they leave these out)
seeded pomegranate (a favorite in our house) – let me show you how to de-seed a pomegranate in 30 seconds!
Nuts and Seeds:
Meats and Eggs:
rolled up turkey or ham
cut up hot dog or tofu dog circles
Prepared Snack Foods:
The beautiful thing about a monkey platter is that you can use what you have on hand and survey the nutritional profile as you go. On days of scant pantry, the platter will be about filling the children more than anything, but I do aim to hit a spectrum of colors and food groups if I can. An array of ingredients from your garden, pantry or farmer’s market will provide quality nutrition for your kids without the usual protestation. A well built money platter can lead to high feelings of accomplishment with low effort. It feels like cheating but looks like winning. And if you’re too tired to make your own dinner, who’s to say adults can’t monkey around as well? Share your favorite Monkey Platter ingredients!
Be Well, Eat well.