17 Old-School Dinners We Want Back

While many childhood meals deserve to stay firmly in the past, other homemade recipes leave our mouths watering and our minds nostalgic. Many classic, staple family meals have become less popular but have flavors that stand the test of time—so here are the 17 traditional dinners we think should make a comeback!

Meatloaf with Glazed Carrots and Mashed Potatoes

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A quintessential American comfort food, meatloaf served with buttered carrots and a side of creamy mashed potatoes is a hearty meal that many of us remember with childhood nostalgia. Mealime states it only takes 40 minutes to prepare, so you can enjoy its tender, savory flavors anytime you feel like a warm, culinary hug!

Beef Stroganoff Over Egg Noodles

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Originating from Russia, beef stroganoff is a popular dish worldwide—a rich, creamy sauce and tender strips of beef served on a bed of comforting egg noodles. The combination of sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sour cream sauce created the illusion of fine dining in our own homes, with a rich and sophisticated flavor many of us still crave.

Chicken Pot Pie

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YouGov says chicken pot pie is the 18th most popular American dish of all time! It’s a classic comfort food, combining a buttery, flaky pastry crust with a rich and creamy filling of chicken chunks, peas, carrots, and a blend of herbs. The aroma of a freshly baked chicken pot pie straight out of the oven often brings back happy memories and excessive salivation!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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This baked dish was a family favorite, with recipes often passed down through generations. Most combine canned tuna, egg noodles, and a creamy mushroom sauce, topped with a crunchy topping of breadcrumbs or crackers. It’s a great meal for times when the pantry is almost bare, yet it is still a satisfying, hearty, and tasty dish.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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A staple of Irish-American cuisine and popular on St. Patrick’s Day, this dish is traditional yet delicious. Slow-cooked corned beef is simmered with cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, resulting in a flavorful meat concoction full of nutritious veggies. For many, the meal offers a comforting, tasty reminder of Ireland in every bite!

Baked Ham with Pineapple and Cherries

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The saltiness of ham is perfectly paired with the sweet, citrusy flavor of pineapple and the sugary complement of brown sugar glaze and cherries. Taste states that it’s a traditional festive dish (often a Christmas or Thanksgiving centerpiece) that many fans yearn to recreate year-round.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

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This southern ‘soul food’ gained popularity all over the U.S.—fried chicken is served atop fluffy, buttery waffles in a delicious combination of savory and sweet flavors. The crispy, seasoned crust of the chicken pairs well with the slightly sweetened waffles, which are then often drizzled with maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness.

Shepherd’s Pie

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Originating from the British Isles, this comforting oven-baked dish involves a layer of ground lamb simmered with peas and carrots in a rich gravy, all topped with a creamy mashed potato crust. If beef is used in place of lamb, it’s called cottage pie, but in either case, it’s a hearty and comforting family meal—especially with the addition of cheddar cheese!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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The first Italian-inspired meal to make our list, spaghetti and meatballs is an iconic dish that has become a vital part of American cuisine. Large, tender meatballs are cooked in a rich, herby tomato sauce and served atop a bowl of simple spaghetti. The rich, tasty, and filling combination is remembered by many of us with fondness and family memories.

Pot Roast with Vegetables

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The classic pot roast, slow-cooked with carrots, onions, and potatoes, is the perfect dish to showcase the benefits of slow cooking. A simple cut of beef becomes tender and flavorful after the long process, yet the meal is relatively simple to prepare, requiring only one pot and sufficient time.

Clam Chowder

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A staple of New England cuisine and the first seafood entry on our list, clam chowder is a rich, creamy soup filled with clams, potatoes, and onions, often served with oyster crackers or crusty bread. For anyone who grew up in a coastal town, the dish’s comforting warmth and flavor bring back nostalgia and delicious memories.

Pork Chops with Apple Sauce

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Pork chops are often traditionally served with store-bought or homemade applesauce—made by stewing cooking apples with a little sugar. The savory richness of the meat pairs especially well with the sweet, tangy flavor of the apples, and they’re often accompanied by roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes—a true celebration of autumn flavors!

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

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This seasoned ground beef patty is cooked in a pan or grill, then smothered in a rich mushroom gravy, and is a nostalgic dish invoking supper clubs of the past. Typically served with mashed potatoes and green beans, it’s a hearty, tasty, and traditional American comfort food many of us still yearn for.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Red, yellow, or orange bell peppers are filled with a savory mixture of ground meat, rice, tomatoes, and herbs, then baked until the peppers are tender and the filling is juicy. This meal is colorful, nutritious, simple, and easy to prepare. Often used as a way to use up leftover ingredients before grocery shopping, the dish was still delicious and substantial.


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According to The Smithsonian, this hearty peasant stew originates from Hungary and is a warming dish made with chunks of beef, potatoes, and a rich paprika-laden broth. The meal has an intense, deep flavor that many of us still enjoy and is particularly hearty and comforting when served alongside bread or noodles.

Fried Catfish and Hushpuppies

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Originating from the South, this dish features fried freshwater catfish and deep-fried balls of savory cornmeal, known as hushpuppies. Sides of coleslaw and tartar sauce often accompany this crispy meal, and it is a quintessential culinary experience in states such as the Carolinas and Mississippi.

Biscuits and Gravy

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Another southern recipe, this breakfast staple is hearty enough to be enjoyed any time of day, with flaky biscuits that are smothered in a rich, savory sausage gravy. It’s the ultimate comfort food, particularly for those raised on this satisfyingly simple yet comforting dish.

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