Whip up a simple kid-friendly charcuterie board and enjoy minimal cleanup and less time in the kitchen — perfect for relaxing summer days (or whenever you need a quick meal everyone will love).
Over the past 10 summers, we’ve invested much time, energy, and money into our outdoor spaces — landscaping, multiple decks, a patio and basketball court area, fire pit, play structure, trampoline, pool, outbuilding, furniture, more landscaping, etc.
Throughout it all, we’ve kept our main goals in mind — enjoying the simple sweetness of summer days at home with our family, as well as hosting and entertaining a variety of friends, family, and neighbors during the warmer months (we prefer entertaining outdoor versus indoor).
We’ve successfully ticked off almost all our landscaping projects to date… and for the most part, we are thrilled with how everything turned out.
We’re not finished with the pool area yet — but here are a few pictures of the yard.
Needless to say, we spend A LOT of time outside!
And when we’re outside, it’s REALLY hard to get the kids back inside for meals (especially when they’re swimming).
As a result, our summer routine has been to eat both lunch and dinner outside almost every day.
I often plan a slow-cooker meal or something grilled for dinner (both require much less time in the kitchen).
For lunch, we enjoy what our kids call “meat and cheese”, but what the more sophisticated Pinterest world calls “a Charcuterie Board” (pronounced shär KŌŌ derē).
What’s a Charcuterie Board?
Basically, it’s a really fancy (and old) term for a big tray or platter of meats, cheeses, nuts, fruits, veggies, crackers, dips, spreads, pickles, etc.
You can literally put almost anything you can eat with your hands on a charcuterie board and call it a meal!
Of course, it’s kinda fun to create a pretty presentation, but I can speak from experience that the food tastes just as good without a fancy tray.
Examples of Charcuterie Board Foods
I try to include a variety of flavors and textures for each of the different categories below — but that’s not necessarily what I have in my pantry, so (as always) just use whatever you can scrounge up!
- Salami, prosciutto, or other deli meat (rolled up with toothpicks if you want to be fancy)
- Sliced summer sausage
- Sliced or cubed pepperoni
- Beef jerky sticks
- Sushi (if you’re really fancy — we are not!)
- Sliced cheeses
- Cubed cheeses
- Hard cheeses
- Spreadable cheeses
- String cheese or other cheese sticks
- Mini Baby Bell cheeses
- Grapes (these are SO simple)
- Whole berries
- Apple and pear slices (dip in Sprite to keep them from turning brown)
- Pomegranate seeds
- Dried fruit — craisins, raisins, apricots, dates, etc.
NOTE: super juicy fruits like melons, stone fruits, and pineapples don’t work well — also, I never include bananas.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Baby carrots and sugar snap peas
- Sliced cucumbers and peppers
- Any other raw veggie you like, cut into bite-size chunks
- Pickles (or any pickled veggie)
Crackers, Nuts, Seeds, Bread:
- Wheat Thins, Ritz, Saltines, Club, or any crackers you have
- Tortilla chips
- Pretzels (we love the long rods)
- Pub mixes (like Chex Mix)
- Veggie Straws, Goldfish, Cheese-Its
- Crusty bread or breadsticks
- Small sandwich chunks — depending on how hungry we are
- Mixed nuts
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Hummus or ranch for the veggies
- Fruit dip or yogurt for the fruit
- Guacamole and salsa for chips and crackers
- Jams and jellies to spread on crackers
- Spinach, artichoke, and cheese spread for bread and crackers
- Anything else your family enjoys that is easy to eat with your hands!
How I Assemble Our Charcuterie Boards
I use a big wooden tray I found from a thrift store years ago and line it with wax paper. Then I pile it high with whatever foods I have cut up and ready to go in the fridge and pantry and carry the goods outside to my hungry tribe.
Sometimes we all eat directly from the tray. Other times I get a bit fancier with paper or plastic plates!
I try to section off the foods with smaller bowls, cups, or food storage containers — nothing super fancy, but it helps with presentation and it keeps the different types of food organized on the tray.
Since I usually keep a variety of fruits, veggies, meats, and cheeses cut up in the fridge (read more about that here), it only takes a few minutes for me to compile a big tray of favorites for a super simple summer meal or snack.
I let the kids pick and choose what they want to eat (friends and neighbors often stay to eat as well) and surprisingly enough, they usually keep munching away on the fruits and veggies until everything is gone!
This is all good in my book… but my favorite part of serving charcuterie board meals is that there’s little to no clean-up afterward — just toss the wax paper and put a few spoons and knives in the dishwasher.
Then it’s back to the pool we go!
Other Charcuterie Board Ideas
Dessert: mini cookies, mini cupcakes, fudge, chocolate dipped pretzels and marshmallows, chocolate dipped fruit, biscotti, etc. etc.
After School Snack: I often make a smaller board for the kids when they get home from school — I include fewer options and smaller quantities, but it’s still a hit.
Movie Theater: a variety of popcorn, peanuts, and candies — great for at-home movie nights.
Holiday: all foods of a certain color (red, white, and blue or red and green, or red, white, and pink) — this could also work for a sports theme too.
There are so many fun and creative ways you can use charcuterie boards to simplify meal prep during the summer months… and all year long!
These kid-friendly charcuterie boards are some of our family’s favorite simple meals (especially poolside in the summer!)