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Is it a meal or a snack? Both, it’s ‘girl dinner’

After weeks of watching the ‘girl dinner’ trend on TikTok, it is only fitting to look into its origins.
Alexa Morales

Many have heard of the term ‘girl dinner’, whether by scrolling mindlessly through Tiktok or Instagram, maybe through a friend. But, there is a chance readers may have indulged in girl dinner without actually knowing it.

But what exactly is girl dinner? Is it not just dinner that girls eat? No, not exactly.

The reporter’s girl dinner has two different salads paired with some sausage and a drink. Some (perhaps just the reporter) would describe this meal as a very balanced, Polish girl dinner. (Photo by Emily Ziajor)

Girl dinner consists of a variety of foods (usually snack foods) that are compiled into a small-sized meal: pretty much anything that might be found in any fridge and or cupboard out of pure convenience.

This trend became extremely popular because of Tiktok user Olivia Maher who posted a video on May 11, 2023. She is the creator of the so-called ‘girl dinner’, which she also refers to as “peasant dinner”, probably because the makeup of this “meal” is smaller in portion size, making it more affordable for all.

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Within the video Maher showcased her girl dinner, which consisted of bread, butter, cheese, grapes, pickles, and a glass of wine.

After the video went viral on Tiktok, many users started posting their own configurations of girl dinner under a sound that just poorly sings the words “girl dinner” repeatedly. Such a meal can look as familiar as charcuterie boards, leftovers paired with other components, or an odd and unusual grouping of foods, like pasta and pickles. 

Sounds simple and fun, right?

However, many people worry about the nutritional dangers that come with girl dinner. People may abuse this term and fuel their eating disorder, especially when categorizing girl dinner as a few grapes and crackers. That is not girl dinner. There must be enough variety to account for different food groups that will give you the nutritional benefits that are necessary. Obviously girl dinner is a silly and fun indulgence being on the cuff of a snack and meal, but it is extremely important to have proper meals in order to get enough value out of one’s food.

Senior Lauren Sikma couldn’t wait to indulge in her girl dinner on the band room floor so she submitted her practically finished meal. She had a burger and fries from Augustinos along with a pickle and drink. I’d rate this girl dinner an 8/10. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Sikma via SMS)

There are others who would argue that the point of girl dinner is enjoying food that one did not have much time to prepare, which is definitely relatable for individuals who may sometimes lack motivation to prepare a meal, or those who live a busy lifestyle.

Senior Nancy Sanchez’s girl dinner has a variety of foods, a range of textures like crunchy and soft. From watermelon to marshmallows, it’s easy to throw together. I’d give this girl dinner an 8/10 (Photo by Nancy Sanchez)

Senior Brooke Schliephake, a self-proclaimed Baked Ruffles addict who is quite busy managing her job along with extracurriculars and academics, has started budgeting money to save for copious amounts of her favorite chip to pair with other foods.

“I buy a few from the vending machines at school. I’ve even started buying bigger bags from Target so I can have girl dinner once I reach home,” Schliephake said.

Senior Christina Guo’s girl dinner not only has dinosaur chicken nuggets but healthy greens! Simple, straight to the point, and fun. An extremely solid 8/10. (Photo courtesy of Christina Guo via Snapchat)

So why is girl dinner so appealing? Perhaps people want to enjoy specific snacks – girl dinner establishes some form of customization with one’s food. It is a “meal” to indulge and enjoy. No one else has to understand it except the consumer.

Another reason why girl dinner might be so appealing is because of the convenience of not having to cook a full, complex meal.

Senior Jamie Sticha’s girl dinner consists of salami wrapped around lettuce, with some bread, boiled eggs, and a Starbucks coffee. This is a girl dinner with amazing variety and some effort!! Take notes 11/10 (Photo courtesy of Jamie Sticha via Instagram)

Students surveyed at WCCHS about girl dinner expressed mainly positive reactions. Senior Jamie Sticha talked about one of the more memorable experiences she shared with her best friend, senior Lauren Sikma, having stopped at Augustino’s five minutes before band camp to indulge in girl dinner – consisting of fries, a Watermelon Arizona, strawberries, and yogurt.

“None of it was cohesive, but the flavors blended well. I had a good mix of sweet, salty, and refreshing all in one. So, between the experience of rushing for food, and being a mini chef, girl dinner was what I made that suited me and this is why I love girl dinner!” Sticha said.

Even food chains have been picking up this trend. Popeyes launched a girl dinner meal option – which hit the menu on July 19 – which consists of mac and cheese, Cajun fries, mash potatoes with Cajun gravy, red beans paired with rice, coleslaw, and a la carte biscuits, all items categorized as sides on their menu.

Food is something that brings people together or creates peaceful harmony within one’s self, so who is to say what one can and cannot consume?

This story was originally published on Wildcat Chronicle on September 26, 2023.