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‘Mom dinner’ walked so ‘girl dinner’ could run

Kid’s leftovers offer parents questionable canapés of varying appeal that put the “girl dinner” hors d’oeuvres to shame.

Social media influencers are rushing to post their own version of the charcuterie-like "girl dinner" TikTok trend, with some describing it as basically throwing together several nutritionally deficient snack foods instead of eating an actual meal. 

Moms would like a word.

As parents, we're happy to let "girl dinner" have its moment — we've raised attention-obsessed toddlers who love the spotlight.

But let it be known: The "mom dinner" walked so the "girl dinner" could run.

Moms have long been sustaining their sleep-deprived bodies with small plates of even smaller foods: It's called your kid's leftovers, people, and these questionable canapés of varying appeal put the "girl dinner" hors d'oeuvres to shame.

My dear friend, who gave birth just a few months before I made my grand foray into motherhood, was always willing to share her parenting hacks, including her elaborate "mom dinner" recipes that got her through the most difficult mom moments.

"As a single mom, I lived off these perfectly toasted crusts covered in a lovely, heavily seasoned cream sauce," she said. "Meaning I ate my daughter's pizza crusts dipped in outdated ranch dressing I found in the back of my fridge.

"Oh, and don't forget a side of half-eaten apple slices with a questionable crumb coating," she'd lovingly remind me.

This is what mom friends are for.

So, when my defiant toddler developed a very specific, very restrictive palate, I was more than happy to indulge his dinner requests that would later become my own appetizers.

Here's a sample:

  • An amuse bouche of half an apple sauce pouch found at the bottom of the stroller on a brisk, 85-degree day.
  • An antipasto of "edible dirt," also known as varying cookie and cracker crumbs found inside my ill-fitted and sweat-stained bra. Yes, "mom dinners" were years ahead of the now-trendy Scandinavian cuisine, sorry Noma.
  • Starters of perfectly crusted baked chicken (one-third of a once-frozen chicken nugget) topped with micro-greens (a sprig of half-chewed broccoli) over a small bed of cheese coulis (the remains from a bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese).

If I was really lucky, I'd also enjoy a lovely shot of fruit extract — aka, the leftover sugar-laced juice from my child's fruit cup.

The "mom dinner" possibilities are truly endless, and evolve as your child goes through different food phases. School-aged kids offer their own mom dinner menu options — our very own personal French maître.

The "mom dinner" possibilities are truly endless, and evolve as your child goes through different food phases.

I've enjoyed a tapas-sized serving (read: two) of half-eaten meatballs covered in a beautiful reduced tomato and basil sauce, courtesy of the world renown Chef Boyardee. That is, of course, until my son inexplicably decided he didn't like red-colored food. Mom dinners have a seasonal menu ... if seasons suddenly changed abruptly and definitively without warning.

I've had a variety of charcuterie-like offerings of assorted toasts and crackers — the edges of a misshapen peanut butter and jelly sandwich; the crust of a there-better-be-nothing-else-on-it-but-cheese pizza; the crumbly top of an out-of-the-box chicken pot pie.

In keeping with the hot trend of serving food not on plates but on sticks, stones and even the table itself, many evenings I'd find my "mom dinner" — often the tail of a Goldfish Cracker — in my child's seat, the cracks of our couch or on the edge of a rug.

It just tastes better that way.

So while we're happy for those of you who are fond of "girl dinners" and think they're all the rage, especially the part about feeling free from the pressure to cook, we'd appreciate it if "mom dinners" received the respect they are owed.

Also, frozen fish sticks are good. Yes, this is a hill worth dying on.