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Mix Up Your Dinner Routine with a Living Room Picnic!

Photo by Kristin Rogers Photography / Stocksy United / 24740
Photo by Kristin Rogers Photography / Stocksy United

It can be really easy to fall into a dinner rut—you know, where everybody knows that Monday is spaghetti night, Tuesday is tuna casserole, and so forth—because mealtime routines can save time and ensure your family doesn’t run behind schedule. But it can also make dinner time less exciting, which is a good reason to start trying new things. Why? Being adventurous with foods and eating experiences can help your little ones better appreciate a variety of tastes and cultures.

We’ve got a great way to accomplish both: the living-room picnic party! Youngsters will delight in eating on the floor while the adults can enjoy the luxury of not cooking, making living-room picnic parties a win-win for both kids and parents. Follow the meal with a dance party, and shazam! Indoor picnic night will shake up that routine with a whole lot of fun.

All you need to do for a downright amazing picnic is put in a little planning ahead of time for some mouthwatering finger foods. Here’s how to pull it off with aplomb.

1. Pick Three Cheeses

For Mom & Dad: Steve Jones of Portland, Oregon’s Cheese Bar suggests creating a mix of colors and textures for the perfect cheese plate. Select at least three kinds of cheeses for a fun variety, whether you like washed-rind cheeses, crumbly aged blue, or creamy Camembert. 

For the Kids: “Easy to eat” varieties like cheddar, Swiss, and Havarti will have them munching until every slice is gone.

2. Add Some Fun Spreads

For Mom & Dad: Fig spread, chutneys, and/or savory onion marmalades all make tasty spreads for cheese. Add a dollop of whole-grain mustard for savory creations and stone-ground mustard for an extra kick.

For the Kids: Fresh fruit preserves, light cream cheese, and low-sugar jam are all great ideas. Add an extra thrill by placing the spreads in wide bowls so the kids can have a blast dunking their food!

3. Make a Fresh Fruit Plate

For Everybody: Grapes, berries, melon, and slices of apples or pears all complement good cheese and bread extremely well.

4. Pick a Protein

For Mom & Dad: Pork tenderloin and roast beef are delectable options, but if you’re looking for a special treat, pick up a little thin-sliced prosciutto or Serrano ham.

For the Kids: Low-sodium turkey or honey ham are all likely to be gobbled down without protest.

5. Throw in Some Veggies and Dip

For Mom & Dad: Cauliflower, eggplant, asparagus slices—go for all those veggies you like but your little ones don’t. Try some mild, creamy cheese instead of a dip—ricotta, Neufchâtel, or even labneh, a Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt work well.

For the Kids: Celery, carrot, pepper, and cucumber slices are all great options. For some kid-friendly dips, go with almond butter, hummus, or healthy homemade ranch.

6. Add Some Grains

For Mom & Dad: Whole-grain, crunchy flatbreads or a sliced, soft baguette will make your taste buds sing.

For the Kids: Rice crisps and sweet potato chips are flavorful yet healthy alternatives.

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