No matter how old we get, the meals we had as kids will always live fondly in our hearts. Finishing up your homework and sitting down for a hearty meal with your favorite VHS tape rolling in the background … ah, yes. Kiddom was our peak. Luckily, you can still relive that feeling through the good old taste-bud-to-memory pipeline. From sloppy joes to pizza pinwheels, these kid-friendly dinner recipes will transport you to your youth.
If you grew up in a big family, you know that ground beef was a go-to. The affordable protein can comfortably feed a family of four and can be used in a variety of meals, like tacos and stuffed peppers. Here, it’s used in sloppy Joes, a timeless sandwich that keeps things simple without sacrificing flavor.
Even if taco tater tot casserole isn’t something you had as a kid, you’re likely familiar with its ingredients. The epic dish is a mashup of tater tots, ground beef, corn, salsa and pinto beans. The elements come together to make one comforting casserole that your kids will love just as much as you did growing up.
When your parents were short on time or the babysitter was responsible for dinner, ham and cheese sandwiches were on the menu. You can still achieve that same level of simplicity while ramping up the flavors a bit. Just add teriyaki sauce and pineapple, and you’ve got a sandwich worthy of the dinner table.
Having chicken fingers and French fries as a child was like bringing Ronald McDonald to your house. Little did you know that your parents were just tossing some frozen nuggets into the oven and calling it a day. This recipe for homemade chicken fingers takes it up a notch and will still satisfy your hankering for fast food.
Renditions on the classic cheeseburger were a staple during kiddom and this cheeseburger casserole recipe will truly take you back. Plus, it’s super easy to make. Just toss the ingredients into your Crock-Pot and cook on low for a few hours.
Having breakfast for dinner as a kid was unmatched. Let’s bring that same energy to our lives as adults — it’s well-deserved. If you agree and want to make a truly iconic breakfast meal for dinner, try serving up chicken and waffles. This recipe uses frozen toaster waffles to cut your work in half.
Trying to get creative for dinner without sacrificing convenience is the name of the game for parents, which is probably why some of our favorite meals as kids were just mashups of two things we already loved on their own. This recipe combines pizza and grilled cheese into one delicious sandwich. This combo is just one way to take your grilled cheese to the next level.
Beef stroganoff was especially popular in the ’50s due to its simple, inexpensive list of ingredients. The dish’s pasta is piled high with a creamy blend of mushrooms and beef, making this childhood favorite a great dinner option to serve today.
Few things were more exciting than the final bell of school as a kid. It was the symbol that summer had officially arrived, and that holiday block parties – filled with yummy grilled foods – were right around the corner. And of course, it wasn’t a celebration without a hot dog piled high with chili and mustard.
Egg salad’s cousin, tuna salad, also made an appearance on the dinner table every once in a while, although it was also a great lunchbox filler. This recipe puts a spin on the salad by mixing it with yogurt and avocado instead of the traditional mayonnaise.
Even if you weren’t dining on fish and chips as a kid, fish sticks and French fries were a staple in plenty of households. This sheet pan dinner recipe keeps the fish-based meal simple while giving it a little more flavor than those frozen fish sticks you adored as a kid.
The best part about pizza pinwheels (besides the fact that they’re delicious and remind us of Hot Pockets) is that they’re a great alternative to making or ordering pizza. The dish is made from refrigerated crescent dough so you can skip making your own dough or using premade crusts, which always leave something to be desired
When pasta salad was on the menu, you knew it would make an appearance in your lunches and dinners all week. The easy to make dish can serve many, which makes it perfect as a side at cookouts and for avid meal preppers.
Why were mini versions of your favorite meals so dang fun as a kid? We don’t have a clue, but the excitement still applies to adulthood. Make these cheeseburger sliders a staple on your dinner table, especially on nights when you want to fire up the grill.
Sticking with the tiny foods theme, it’s time to talk about mini naan pizzas. Make your own pizza night was always a family-fun activity, and this recipe keeps the good times rolling. Use naan as the crust for your pizza and pile it with your favorite toppings. To really keep it childlike, keep it simple with tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese.
If you were a picky eater growing up, plain pasta with broccoli was a go-to. This recipe is like childhood on a plate and it’s so easy to make. Penne pasta is tossed with sharp cheddar cheese and broccoli cheddar soup, making a creamy, comforting meal that comes together in just 45 minutes.
Pancakes are more than a breakfast option. The pillowy spheres topped with syrup and chocolate chips … it’s like breakfast, dinner and dessert – all the meals in one.
You might not have necessarily forgotten about mac and cheese, but it probably doesn’t make an appearance in your nightly dinner rotation as often as it did when you were a tyke. If you want to really revisit the past, make the dish straight from the box. Or level up with some of our best-ever mac and cheese recipes.
Meatloaf is an important dish to revisit in adulthood. You might not have been in love with it as a youngin’, but this recipe will make you rethink that sentiment. The hearty meal is perfect for weeknight dinners with the family.
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