5 Fun Food Bar Ideas

A DIY Food Bar is the perfect at home dinnertime solution since it puts most of the “work” assembling the meal into the hands of each individual eater. Parents, kids, or roommates can be involved in the “prep” to get toppings, fillings, seasonings and sauces onto the table. But the real magic happens when each person gets to decide what they DO or DON’T want on their plate. (No more picky eater complaints!)

If this is a family activity, it’s important to consider which activities are suited for the kids in your kitchen before you begin assembling your bar. Check out our age-appropriate ideas for “Growing into becoming a good cook.” You’ll find ideas for all ages including Preschool, Elementary School and Tweens & Teens. In general, it’s best to focus on skills that involve washing produce, opening jars/bags, setting up serving plates and dishes and when appropriate (with older kids) opening cans and shredding cheese.

If this is a roommate or couples meal, this is a great opportunity to think like the chefs on TV — or the chefs at your favorite restaurants. Be creative and take some risks!

Almost any meal can be transformed into a DIY bar if you simply deconstruct the recipe into the individual ingredients. To get you started, we’ve chosen our 7 favorites:

Taco Bar

Who doesn’t love a good taco? Especially when you get to decide what goes in it! A DIY Taco Bar can be built around most any filling — from a traditional browned ground beef filling to shredded cooked chicken to grilled fish for fish tacos. We especially like this Slow Roasted Pork as the base of a Taco Bar because most of the work cooking the meat is “hands off” cooking done low and slow in the oven.

If you already have a Taco Tuesday routine and don’t want to break with tradition, you might also consider a Nacho, Burrito or Tostada Bar as an alternative. Simply trade out taco shells for either tortilla chips, soft tortillas or baked corn tortillas. Topping choices stay the same.

Topping Ideas
Shredded Cabot Pepper Jack, Colby Jack or Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Cabot Plain Greek Yogurt or Cabot Sour Cream
Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce
Diced Tomato
Diced Red Onion
Sliced Black Olives
Diced Bell Peppers
Guacamole or Avocado slices or small cubes
Fresh or Pickled Jalapeño Peppers
Black Beans
Fresh Cilantro

Baked Potato Bar

When it comes to getting kids to eat more vegetables, there’s one veggie that tops the list of family favorites — the potato. Sure, French fries tend to get top billing with kids, but a hot and hearty baked potato is a crowd pleaser as well. And that’s good news for parents who want their kids eating more vegetables. Potatoes are actually a good source of fiber and potassium. Load them up with broccoli and cheese and you’ve got a veggie-heavy, protein-packed dinner everyone will enjoy.

Topping Ideas
Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar or 4-Cheese Mexican Cheese or your favorite variety
Cabot Plain Greek Yogurt or Cabot Sour Cream
Chopped Broccoli (frozen works well here)
Sliced Green Onion
Chopped Cooked Bacon
Diced Ham
Corn Kernels
Black Beans

Here are our other favorite potato recipes:
Double Baked Corned Beef Potatoes:
Bacon Cheese Sauce with Cheddar:
Twice Baked Potatoes:

Grilled Cheese and Soup Bar

This may actually be one of our favorite food bar ideas. It’s versatile, easy and universally comforting all rolled into one… plus, we know a thing or two about making a good grilled cheese. You can get creative with your grilled cheese OR simply serve up a platter full of the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Then, heat up some tomato soup and let everyone build the soup they want! The Cabot farmers have their 4 Favorite Ways to Dress Up Tomato Soup.

Topping Ideas
Shredded Cabot Extra-Sharp Cheddar
Jalapeño Slices
Fresh Spinach Leaves
Corn Kernels

Pizza Bar

Ordering delivery or grabbing a pizza to go is always a simple dinner option… until the kids can’t agree which toppings to pick. A DIY Pizza Bar solves that problem! The key to making this a fun, simple option for most families is to start with pre-made dough. Often, you can find dough prepped in your supermarket bakery, dairy case or even the frozen aisle. But there are other quick options we recommend as well — ranging from canned biscuits and crescent rolls that can be pressed out to make individual mini-pies to pita bread that provide a hearty (and sturdy) base for loads of yummy toppings. If you prefer not to assemble and bake each individual pizza with toppings, try giving everyone their own pre-baked Margherita Pizza and let them pile on the toppings at the table.

Topping Ideas
Shredded Cabot Cheese
Marinara Sauce
Sliced Tomato
Chopped Onion
Sliced Black Olives
Roasted Peppers
Sun-dried Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Fresh Mushrooms

Beyond The Bar — Our Most Popular Kid-Friendly Recipes

For those nights when a DIY Bar isn’t the ideal choice, it’s still important to have a steady supply of family favorite recipe ideas. Here are our picks for recipes everyone at the table is sure to enjoy!

Taco Waffle Fry Nachos
Instant Pot Macaroni & CheesePepperoni Pizza EmpanadasChicken EnchiladasFrito Pie

Individual Cheddar Meatloaves


Comments (1)

Deborah Hart | May 26, 2020 | 3:14pm

I just went through you latest emsil, 5 Fun Food Bar Ideas and it’s awful. They all sound so delicious I don’t know which one I should try first! I absolutely love your products.

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