Up until about four months ago, I had been eating most of my dinners alone. My boyfriend, who I live with, left his hospitality job and the dinner "routine" I'd cooked up was derailed by the presence of another stomach to feed. Not that the responsibility falls on me to do the cooking, but if we were sharing a meal, I could no longer warm a can of beans or lay down a plate of salami, cheese and whatever condiments and call it a day. He is a three-square-meals-a-day person, I am a chronic grazer. Recently he sent me a "Girl Dinner" TikTok and I found my people.
First of all, the internet has reminded me yet again, that this specific thing we apparently all do isn't a unique experience. Olivia Maher, the person who coined Girl Dinner, kicks off the dialogue with the inclusions of bread and cheese, which always makes her feel like a medieval village peasant when eating. Once again, me too. However, there is no hard and fast formula to Girl Dinners. Mostly, it's about something that will fill you up, but is also low-effort and led purely by comfort tastes.
As such, there's a lot of cheese, bread, pickles, cold meats, with sweet treats thrown in the mix for good measure. Sort of like a ploughmans, except a piece of watermelon is just as likely to sit next to a pool of mac and cheese as it is a slice of ham or canned corn. It's designed in a snackable way, for variety and ease but also so you can have it while watching TV and unwinding after your day. There's usually little to clean up after too. Which leads us to the other point to note. Girl Dinner is a thing, because, it's argued, who can be bothered whipping up a fully-fledged meal at 6:30pm? Especially, when it's just for one person. Also, as much as it's been put forward as a solution for midweek dinners, meal-prepping is depressing. Who wants to eat the same pasta leftovers three nights in a row?
@conversationswithruby #stitch with @Krista Larson there’s a reason ur bf doesn’t understand girl dinner #girldinner ♬ original sound - Ruby Cline
At its core, the spirit of Girl Dinner is about variety, it's also about avoiding waste. It's the bits of steak from last night, bulked up with whatever else is lying about in your kitchen that alone would not constitute a meal, but together is satisfying and filling.
@nickicox i envy those that can get full off a lil snack plate. i would need about 17 of them to be full. #girldinner #foryoupage #fyp ♬ original sound - hanana
@mei.fae please and thank you #girldinner #edrecocery ♬ original sound - Meija🧚🏻
As expected, Girl Dinner has its critics, and I get why people would be wary of another so-called food trend on an app known to serve content encouraging disordered eating. Certainly, some of the contributions are questionable: no a cigarette and cup of tea doesn't count, even if it is just a joke. Although I find it laughable that people would think Girl Dinner is a trend women are testing out, rather than a fact of our daily lives. Most of us accept that Girl Dinner is a glint of our feral sides showing, it's more "rat girl" than aesthetically pleasing. Girl Dinner is not about diet culture, we will eat keep replenishing the smorgasbord until we're full. Nor are we eating like this every night. And no one is pretending that Girl Dinner is abundant in key nutrients. We all went to school and learned about the healthy eating pyramid. And anyway, have you seen what they're eating over there for Boy Dinner? It's not us you have to worry about.
@bryaninheelee What is boy dinner #girldinner #fyp ♬ original sound - Bryan 인희 Lee
What is most curious about Girl Dinner is the name itself. From sweet treats to the rise of cutesy language, the way we speak about ourselves has increasingly become infantilising. Is it just because we're overwhelmed adults who despite our best efforts, cannot attain the material markers of adulthood, such as a house? And as such, are reverting to imagining ourselves as softer, helpless children, because deep down that's how we feel? Probably. The temptation to regress to our smol, child-like self as is the case with Girl Dinner, is certainly valid especially when we consider how little time we have to tend to our basic needs in the ever-extending work day. Or buy groceries in the soaring cost of living crisis. If we want to eat a block of cheese, two cucumbers and fish fingers, what of it? Just keep scrolling.