Grain Bowl Buffet

This grain bowl buffet allows everyone to get involved with creating the meal!

Recipe Image Attribution: Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash

  • Prep time 30 mins
  • Cook time 0 to 60 mins
  • Yields 4 to 6
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  • Recipe Submitted By The Spencer-Rankin family


  • 2 cups dry whole grain (e.g. barley, brown/wild rice, bulgur, quinoa, farro/wheatberries, whole wheat couscous, whole grain orzo/penne/macaroni/rotini)
  • 2 cans (540 mL) beans or lentils (e.g. green lentils, garbanzo beans/chickpeas, black beans)
  • 4-6 cups raw or cooked vegetables (e.g. green/yellow beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, bell peppers, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, carrot, beets)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup mix-ins (e.g. grated cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans)
  • flavouring ingredients to taste (e.g. chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, fresh dill or basil)
  • dressing to taste (e.g. oil and vinegar, glory bowl dressing, green goddess)


  • cooking pot(s)
  • can opener
  • colander
  • cutting board and knife
  • cheese grater
  • serving bowls, plates, and spoons


This list of ingredients are some of our go-tos just to give you an idea of what you could prepare. Anything goes really! As long as you've got a couple kinds of veggies, a whole grain, a protein source (e.g. beans, lentils, cheese, nuts/seeds), and some kind of flavouring (e.g. dressing, olives etc.), you're good to go. Make extra of certain ingredients throughout the week and you'll have lots of pre-prepared options to add to your grain bowl buffet.

 Here's how we make our bowls:
  1. Cook up the grain (or use leftovers).
  2. Open and drain the cans of beans or lentils. We've also used leftover tofu, tempeh, or egg.
  3. Wash and chop or grate the vegetables.
  4. Chop or grate mix-ins and flavourings as needed.
  5. Place ingredients in separate serving bowls/plates, along with dressing.
  6. Allow everyone to serve themselves from the ingredients to custom make their own grain bowl.
  7. Enjoy!  
When our youngest daughter was under age 3, she wasn't able to serve herself easily but we still tried to give her choice by asking her which ingredients she wanted in her bowl and how much. We used Ellyn Satter's sage advice of "you provide, they decide" because we trusted that it would lead to our child becoming a more adventurous eater in the long run. She probably didn't eat a green vegetable for a year but now she loves them...proof is in the pudding ;) 

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