If you’re in your 40s you’ll probably remember dinnertime with these 6 nostalgic foods we ate in the 80s. And I share with your their modern, Instant Pot or slow cooker, counterparts.
Nostalgic Foods we ate in the 80s
As a child raised in the 80s, I have a lot of fond food memories. I grew up with 6 siblings, a stay at home mom and a hard working dad. We always ate dinner at home. I hardly remember going out to a restaurant. Like ever. I do remember the trips to Pizza Hut every now and then to redeem a Book It personal pan pizza. Man, those were the best. A whole (little) pizza all to yourself.
Mom would cook dinner every night. Lots of casseroles. Meals that would stretch a pound of meat farther. She would also seem to prepare a lot of side dishes…canned green beans, broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and canned peaches battered in graham cracker crumbs and topped with a dollop of cool whip.
While convenience foods and microwaves became popular in the 80s we still made a lot of our foods from scratch. I do remember wishing for boxed mac and cheese and boxed hamburger helper. I’ll always remember the time Mom made hamburger helper over a camp stove when we stayed in a cabin at Yellowstone. I thought it was the best dinner I ever had.
I also greedily stared at the other kids’ lunchbox contents in elementary school. Fruit roll-ups, twinkies, ding dongs and white Wonderbread sandwiches were the wish of my heart. But instead I got a real turkey sandwich on homemade wheat bread…I was so picked on! (Insert eye roll here. What was I thinking??? I must have had a garbage palate).
I also remember drinking milk with every meal. Like a whole glass of milk. Although for many of my growing up years we had powdered milk. I thought it was great back then…that’s all I knew. Now if I tried to have it on my cereal I think I would gag lol!!
Greg has a lot of the same feelings that I do regarding growing up in the 80s. He also had 6 siblings. He also hardly went out to dinner. His mom cooked dinner every night just like my mom. There was a lot of complaining, apparently, about his mom’s salmon surprise casserole. And Greg was NOT a fan of broccoli casserole. If I ever make something with cooked broccoli in it he’ll politely pass on dinner. I love broccoli cheese and rice casserole…he, however, is not a fan. Our poor moms. They worked so hard to make a nice homemade dinner with limited funds and I’m sure at least 2 out of their 7 kids complained (if not more).
Here are 6 nostalgic foods we ate in the 80s. Can you add to my list? Make a comment below and tell me what you can remember eating in the 80s.
#1: Sloppy Joes
“A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.” Don’t you remember the tagline? My grandma always made sloppy joes for an easy meal the night before Thanksgiving. Of course, she didn’t use a can of Manwich but a homemade recipe.
These days I’m loving my creamy sloppy joe recipe which brings the loose meat sandwich to a whole new level. It adds in cream cheese. Drop the mike!
You might also want to try the Maid Rite Loose Meat Sandwiches. These are not so saucy and have a different flavor profile than sloppy joes.
#2: Rice A Roni
Although we didn’t have a ton of boxed foods this was one I always remember being in our pantry. The “San Francisco treat” was always happily gobbled up. Try making the homemade version in your Instant Pot or slow cooker. Pro tip: buy vermicelli so you don’t have to take time breaking spaghetti into small pieces.
#3: Shepherd’s Pie
Oh how I loved me some shepherd’s pie! Mom would usually make this on a Monday with leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday night’s dinner. She used ground beef, canned green beans, canned tomato soup, mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Kind of an odd combination as I think back on it. I loved it. My sister, Gina, hated it. There’s always one kid you can’t please! Try my Instant Pot shepherd’s pie casserole for an updated take on this classic.
#4: Pasta Primavera
The New York Times says (speaking of pasta primavera), “The dish, rarely seen now, became an absurdity of 1980s so-called seasonal cooking. Meant to be an expression of spring, the mad jumble of vegetables over pasta was mostly an expression of the death match between French and Italian cuisine (cream versus olive oil, sauce versus pasta).”
I probably ate this dish more in the 90s than the 80s. We always made ours with penne pasta instead of spaghetti. I loved it and still do!
#5: Beef Stroganoff
I never knew that “real” beef stroganoff was made with top sirloin or another expensive cut of beef. I always had the ground beef version of stroganoff growing up. I loved the egg noodles, creamy sour cream sauce and mushrooms (which my sister Alicia would always pick out). Try making stroganoff with beef stew meat! It works so well in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
#6: Hot Pockets
Hot pockets hit the freezer aisle of grocery stores in 1983. And I’m 100% certain that the only place I ever ate a hot pocket was at a friend’s house. I know my mom wouldn’t have purchased them. These days I’m loving making homemade hot pockets. The bread dough comes together easily when you proof it in your Instant Pot. Mix and match your favorite fillings. You can eat these fresh or freeze them for later. Make sure to yell out the sing-song slogan “Hot Pockets!” before partaking and watch Jim Gaffigan’s bit on Hot Pockets for a chuckle.
More throwback recipes…
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