Monkey Platters

Sandra Dodd

When my kids were little we went to the zoo one day when the primates were being fed and they had been given big trays of cut-up fruit. It looked good; I guess we were hungry.

When we got home I made a "monkey platter" for the kids, and it has been called that ever since.

One thing they get that the monkeys didn't get is toothpicks. It was especially fun for them when they were younger to eat with dangerous little sticks. Now it's just tradition, and keeps the fruit stickiness off their fingers.

pineapple, in chunks (stick the toothpicks in half of those)
little cubes of cheese
slices of apple
maybe (depends what the kids like) chunks of ham or turkey or some kind of meat
and depending what you have, maybe
cherries (maraschino or pitted or halves; no pits)
banana bits
little crackers
There shouldn't be anything that has to be picked out or disposed of—everything should be edible. On any typical day we're only likely to have four or five things to put on the platter.

Even with the kids being teens, I often deliver a monkey platter where they're watching a DVD with friends, or have been playing a game for a while, or working on a project.


A list of ideas from De/Sanguinegirl83 and Kiersten and some others on a local list they're on:

Robin Yaeger's platter from the 2009 Monkey Platter Festival

Renee Cabatic tweeted: Vampire monkey platter calls for beets, cherries, strawberries, kidney beans and tomatoes!

click to see more

We cube into bite size pieces, cheese. Let it sit out on the counter for about 15 minutes, then place a pretzel stick in the center (instead of a toothpick). Kids love it, and you don't have to worry about anyone (the littles anyhow) getting hurt with toothpicks.


Reese wanted a snack tonight, & I thought of your Monkey Platter post a while back & gave it a shot. He LOVED it and thought it was the most fun idea :) We had raisins, HoneyComb cereal, mini-marshmallows & cheese slices. He ate every single bite and went on and on about how much fun it was.

I told him I read it on your blog & he wanted to know how old your kids were :) When I explained they were grown up, he refused to believe me. "There's no way Monkey Platters have been on Earth that long" he says. :)

Thanks for the fun idea...we will definitely make more. I loved the pics on the Monkey Platter page too!

HappyCampers (Williams), March 2009

Image by Tammy

The glorious part of a monkey platter should be that it was just created lovingly for that child at that moment (or for a group at that moment), not that mom cut some stuff up yesterday and left it in the fridge. It should be fresh, suprising, arranged artistically, delivered with affection.

(Sandra, in a chat, summer 2009)

Image by picesgrrrl

Kelly Lovejoy wrote:

Fix green eggs and ham for breakfast rather than pour a quick bowl of Sugar Bombs. Slice apples and serve with peanut better or sliced cheese for a morning snack. Fix a chicken quesadilla for lunch. Make a monkey platter of sliced meats, cheeses, nuts, cut-up vegies and fruits, crackers, and cookies in the afternoon and leave it out to be nibbled on. Then no amount of cookies just before supper will matter. My guess is that she wouldn't even *want* a cookie before supper!
Karen Swanay responded:
When I first joined [UnschoolingBasics] I was worried about my son Liam. He had SUCH a limited diet and refused to try anything new. After much fussing about "good habits" and the like...this was offered to me. I knew it was crap and wouldn't work 😜 but I offered it anyway. I made this huge platter with fruits, veggies, and meats, some sweet stuff I don't remember what it was candy or something, anyway, I plopped it on the table with a bowl of ranch dip and one of peanut butter and honey. I said nothing about it. I grabbed a plate and took what I wanted from it. The boys just watched me. Then they took plates and ate. AND LIAM ATE FRUIT AND VEGGIES! On his own. No tears. No yelling. He just ate it. Because it looked good. Because the platter was visually pleasing and offered 10 choices and about 1000 combo potentials.

In about three hours I took the plate away because it was mostly gone. Know what was left over? The candy. Some was eaten but mostly it was all the good stuff. It does work. And it makes them happy.

And that reminds me since it's passover this would be a good thing to make for afternoon/dinner for us. I think I should hit the store. Then we are going to the beach. Anyway, anyone with a "picky" eater should try this. It's magic. 🙂


Image by Tammy

Special and newer, on my site:

There's a scene in the movie 'Ratatouille' where Linguini sets out a little feast for Remy, the rat, with fruit and bread and cheese.... read more and see the rat platter

Logan's Inspiration (very pretty)

Charlie Eats an Apple (photo by his brother)

Kiersten's Monkey Platter (several photos, and a list of suggested foods!)

Monkey-Platter References Elsewhere, some with photos:

Help a 'Picky Eater' (or Any Child!) with Monkey Platters (The Attachment Mummy) Monkey Platters by Melissa

The Monkey Platter Gone PINK(ish)

Monkey Platter!

Nothing like the sun

Changing the Way We Snack

A Wrinkle For My Brain: Monkey Platter!

Monkey Platter (at Piscesgrrrl's blog)

Monkey Platter times two

You might also want to read ideas for protein snacks from Deb Lewis's house (vegetarian, happens to be), or snack ideas from Pam Sorooshian (on Joyce Fetteroll's page).

Most of these images were from a photo contest years back. Some are too sugary-looking for my tastes, and the presence of dip defeats the original purpose for me of it being like what the monkeys had (and of being non-messy), but these represent the natural interpretation and evolution of the idea in real families! And every one of them looks fun, too. 🙂

It's like party food without needing a party. They can be clicked to enlarge:



The Full Plate Club Being your child's partner Peaceful Parenting

Moved to its own page: Odd claim that I had not made the term up, because it was on a menu.