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Build Your Own Dinner June 17, 2008

Posted by Laura in Family.

We have a special-treat meal every so often around here, known as Build Your Own Dinner. It’s a favorite with the kids especially. We missed it for Benjamin’s birthday, but Joe chose it for his Father’s Day meal. The basic idea is to use foods to create works of art by connecting them if necessary with toothpicks. Only one rule- anything you use to build has to then be eaten. Here are some of our creations:

A smiley Rachel with her smiley face.

Benjamin’s propeller plane. Aircraft are always popular.

The Awful Tower (or a rocket, if you prefer). Rachel kept correcting my pronunciation and insisting I meant Eiffel Tower.

Joe’s cowboy seemed asleep in the saddle.

This was Rachel’s sunburst.

Benjamin’s motorcycle.

My angel, complete with strawberry wings.

Joe’s T-Rex. This one, also, kept nodding off. Dinosaurs are always fun to make too. We’ve made many a stegosaurus in the past.

Without the benefit of sharp toothpicks, Lydia concentrated her efforts on Roman ruins and a replica of Stonehenge.

It can seem a bit overwhelming to prepare for the meal, but here is a partial list of things we have used in the past. It is not necessary to have all of them at any one time, maybe 8 different shapes and several food groups with lots of creativity will do it.

hard-boiled eggs                         olives                             bananas

strawberries                                bagels                             whole pickles

French toast bites                      melon (in circles, wedges, or chunks)

cherries                                      pineapple                          bratwurst/hotdogs

cherry/grape tomatoes              celery                                cheese cubes

carrots                                     broccoli/cauliflower                grapes

marshmallows                         cucumbers (circles, sticks, halves)

There are so many other possibilities once you start looking through the fridge or pantry, but that’s all I can remember right now. I won’t lie- it takes some planning and prep, but the kids will be so grateful and you’ll be glad you took the time. For me, this is one of those things I really want to do for my family, but I’ve found if this had not become a special occasion meal, it may have been a one time thing. Everyone gets into routines and it’s so easy to let time go by without doing anything intentional to make memories together. Inertia and fatigue often sap the energy from my good intentions, but I really don’t want to regret the lost time later. I’m trying to be more mindful of the opportunities as they arise. This is a family tradition that I’m sure my children will pass down to theirs!



1. Marci - June 17, 2008

How fun!!! Ya’ll are VERY creative!!!

2. Becky - June 17, 2008

Joe’s T-Rex reminds me of a plucked chicken with a red hood over his head. I can’t imagine why I would associate chickens with your place……..hmmm

I do love your angel…she looks good enough to eat!

What a form of creative art work for your entire family. You’ll have great imaginations.

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