Are you looking for some easy self-assembly meals for your family? I’m often on the lookout for recipes that my children will love. My youngest daughter was a very picky eater. Despite scouring the internet for new recipe ideas, it was challenging to get her to try new foods. 

That’s when I discovered the joy of self-assembly meals! In this article, I’m going to share the most popular self-assembly meals in our home.

Is your child a picky eater? These self-assembly meal ideas may be exactly what you've been waiting for! #pickyeater #parenting Click To Tweet

Self-Assembly Meals (Ideas & Inspiration)

The thing I love about self-assembly meals, is usually preparation for these dinners can be done ahead of time. Plus my children love them (and so do I). For each of these meal ideas, place all your ingredients on a counter (buffet style) and let your kids assemble their own meal by choosing the components they like. 

Taco Salad

Taco Salad is one of our favourite self-assembly meals. All you need is:

  • Fried ground beef with taco seasoning
  • Washed lettuce
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Chopped avocado
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Mild salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Crushed tortilla chips

My children usually have seconds or thirds of taco salad. They love it!

Salad Bar

Once again, my girls usually don’t like lettuce, but when it’s served in a salad bar… that’s a whole other story!

  • Washed lettuce
  • Diced tomato
  • Diced yellow and orange peppers
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Croutons
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cocktail shrimp
  • Various salad dressings


We have charcuterie at least once a week in our house. It’s so easy to prepare ahead of time too! 

  • Chopped sausage
  • Salami slices
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Assorted crackers
  • Assorted cheeses (we like cheddar, Havarti, and Swiss the most)
  • Hummus
  • Cucumbers and carrot sticks
  • Grapes
  • Assorted nuts
  • Red pepper jelly
  • Sliced baguette

Bean Bowls

My husband came up with this concoction and it’s often a favourite meal for my girls. My youngest hates rice but will eat loads of it when it’s served this way. 

  • Plain cooked rice
  • Beans in tomato sauce (warmed up)
  • Cooked corn niblets
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips

Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast for dinner is one of my favourite meals. It takes a little more effort to prepare but it’s always a hit!

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cooked bacon
  • Cooked breakfast sausage
  • Toast and various muffins
  • Condiments for toast / muffins (peanut butter, jam, margarine, etc.)
  • Sliced cheese
  • Assorted fruits

Submarine Sandwiches

While my kids will eat most sandwiches I make for them, they go crazy over making their own subs (and may have 2-3 sandwiches)! 

  • Submarine buns (hot dog buns will suffice)
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced tomato
  • Avocado
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Olives
  • Margarine, mustard, mayonnaise
  • Assorted meats


  1. Prepare as much of your self-assembly meal ahead of time. Even with something like taco salad, the meat can be cooked the day before and simply warmed up the day of the meal.
  2. Allow children to serve and assemble their meals themselves. Toddlers and preschoolers may need some guidance / help.
  3. You can establish a rule to try one or two “new” things if your child avoids many foods.
  4. As mentioned previously, spread the food out buffet-style (it makes it much more appealing to the kiddos). 

If you have a child who’s a picky eater, self-assembly meals may be just the thing you need. Children are much more willing to eat and try new foods if they “make” it themselves!

Do you make any self-assembly meals in your home? If we haven’t mentioned one of your favourites, make sure to tell us all about it in the comments below!



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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool and creator of The Deliberate Mom. Jennifer writes about parenting, homeschooling, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.

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