7 Delicious Deconstructed Dinners that the Whole Family Can Enjoy

by | Apr 26, 2023 | 2 comments

For families who want to make one meal, deconstructed dinners are a wonderful solution and refers to a type of meal presentation where the individual components of a dish are separated and served in a non-traditional manner, rather than being combined together on a plate.

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Deconstructed dinner of rice, eggs, and veggies
Deconstructed dinner of rice, eggs, parsley and veggies

This approach to plating food is often used in fine dining restaurants, where it is intended to showcase the ingredients and flavors of a dish in a unique and visually appealing way.

For example, a deconstructed Caesar salad might feature a pile of crispy romaine lettuce leaves, a bowl of homemade croutons, a ramekin of grated parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of Caesar dressing, all served separately on a platter.

Then, you – the diner – combines the ingredients according to your own preferences, creating a personalized version of the dish.

Deconstructed Dinners: Origin

The origin of the deconstructed dinner can be attributed to Ferran Adrià (1), who is know as a three-Michelin-starred chef from Spain. Adrià, known for his culinary research and experimentation, has been credited for pioneering the movement of molecular gastronomy.

This was all the way back in the 1990s – Adrià began to deconstruct dishes that were more on the traditional side, breaking them down into components and then recombining them. By doing this, he was able to explore the different flavors, aromas, and textures of each ingredient, while also offering the freedom of making visually pleasing dishes.

Build a grain bowl, deconstructivist-style

Why Choose a Deconstructed Dinner?

There are several reasons why you might choose a deconstructed dinner, some reasons are as follows:

  • Creative presentation: Deconstructed dinners can be visually appealing and make for an interesting and unique dining experience.
  • Customization: By separating the ingredients, diners can create their own personalized dish by choosing only the components they like, and in the amounts they prefer.
  • Portion control: Deconstructed dinners can help with portion control as diners can see the exact amount of each ingredient they are eating.
  • Dietary restrictions: Deconstructed dinners can be helpful for individuals with dietary restrictions, as they can easily pick and choose the components that fit within their specific dietary needs.
  • Fun and interactive: Deconstructed dinners can be a fun and interactive way to enjoy a meal, especially for kids who enjoy mixing and matching different components.
Taco dinner, deconstructed
Taco Night, Deconstructed

Overall, deconstructed dinners offer a unique and creative dining experience that can be both visually appealing and enjoyable for those who prefer to customize their meals.

Parlaying Deconstructed Dinners into the Family Meal

While deconstructed dinners are still popular in fancy restaurants, they can be recreated at home in a more down-to-earth style that fits your family’s needs.

If you are looking for a new way to present your favorite dishes to your family – where everyone gets a chance to enjoy how they construct their own meal – there is no denying that these kinds of dinners can be a fun and creative way to enjoy food.

Deconstructed family dinners, diners gathered around the kitchen island
Deconstructed Family Dinners

Here are some tips for creating your own deconstructed family dinners:

  • Start with a simple dish that you know and love.
  • Break the dish down into its component parts.
  • Recombine the parts in new and unexpected ways (or let the family recombine as they see fit).
  • Be creative with the presentation.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.

I like to call this “the spirit of the meal” – so that you aren’t creating all of these different types of meals in one dinner and instead, you can focus on one dinner that is delicious, nutritious and visually appealing – I promise you, even your pickiest of eaters might want to dive in.

How this Works for Picky Eaters

Deconstructed dinner can work for picky kids, as it allows them to pick and choose the components they prefer and create a meal that suits their taste.

“So long as there is at least one food at the table that your picky eater can enjoy, deconstructed dinners are also a ways for your kids to get exposed to new foods.”

– Marissa Beck, MS, RDN

For example, a deconstructed taco might feature separate bowls of seasoned ground beef, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and tortilla chips.

Taco Tuesday - deconstructed
Our standard “Taco Tuesday” night, where every member of the family gets to choose their taco-accoutrements

A picky eater might choose to skip the lettuce and tomatoes and just eat the beef and cheese with the chips. By giving kids more control over their meal, they may be more willing to try new foods and flavors.

Additionally, the visual appeal of a deconstructed meal can make it more fun and engaging for kids, which can also increase their interest in trying different foods.

Grab some insight and tips about how to improve dinner time with your kids here!

Deconstructed Dinner Ideas

Here are some more ideas for deconstructed meals:

  • Deconstructed Sushi Bowl: This could include separate bowls of sushi rice, sliced avocado, cucumber, pickled ginger, crab meat, and nori strips.
  • Deconstructed Pizza: This could include separate plates of sliced pepperoni, cheese, tomato sauce, and a bowl of mini pizza crusts or flatbreads. Kids can assemble their own mini pizzas with the toppings they like.
  • Deconstructed Breakfast Burrito: This could include separate bowls of scrambled eggs, diced ham, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa, and tortilla chips. Kids can build their own breakfast burritos with the ingredients they prefer.
  • Deconstructed Pasta Salad: This could include separate bowls of cooked pasta, chopped vegetables (such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers), diced cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. Kids can mix and match the ingredients to create their own pasta salad.
  • Deconstructed Banh Mi Sandwich: This could include separate plates of sliced baguette, grilled chicken or pork, sliced cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro, and spicy mayo. Kids can assemble their own banh mi sandwiches with the toppings they like.
  • Deconstructed Fish Dinner: This could include separate trays of individual portions of seared salmon, string beans, lemon, cracked pepper, and buttered pasta. Kids can squeeze lemon over their pasta, salmon and string beans, or squeeze it only on one portion of the plate.
Seared salmon, garlicky string beans and a side of lemon-pepper pasta
Seared salmon, garlicky string beans and a side of lemon-pepper pasta

Above is what my plate looked like, below is what the kids’ plates looked like:

Kids plate of salmon, lemon pasta, and some veggies
Kids plate of salmon, lemon pasta, and some veggies

More ideas for deconstructed meals!

Do you want additional ideas for deconstructed meals? Get my free guide when you sign up for my newsletter, and I will offer you nutritious, delicious and easy ideas to feed yourself and your family.

2 Comments

  1. Vanessa Thompson

    Love the idea and simplicity of this method especially as we have a younger child to feed. Is a good way to accommodate all taste buds while eating well!

    Reply
    • Marissa Beck, MS, RDN

      Thank you for sharing, Vanessa! It’s been so helpful for my family, too 🙂

      Reply

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Marissa Beck, MS, RDN, Founder of REVV Health, is an award-winning dietitian and recognized nutrition counselor with over 13 years of experience.

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