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    Old-Timey Recipes People Used to Know By Heart

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    Old-Timey Recipes People Used to Know By Heart

    When you think back to your childhood, what are the meals you remember most?

    Food plays a huge part in our connection with our past and the people we love. Yet, many families today do not consistently share a family dinnertime despite the opportunities it gives for conversation and relationship-building. They rely instead on take-out meals or foods that can be prepared and eaten in a flash.

    As inspiration for reviving the tradition of family dinners, we decided to delve into some recipes that many Americans knew by heart in the last century. Most of them are easy and affordable, and they can be adapted for different dietary restrictions. Plus, the leftovers work well for lunches the next day.

    Here are some classic” old-timey” recipes people used to know by heart.

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    Baked Fish


    With the convenience of frozen seafood options, modern families often don’t make the effort to bake fresh fish. However, it is easy, quick, healthy, and tasty. Here is a basic baked fish recipe. And here is a list of 50 variations to make in your oven.

    Beef Stew


    Stews are warm, comforting, and budget-friendly. Here’s a classic one-pot supper that tastes even better the next day.

    Bread Pudding


    We haven’t focused on desserts here, but we wanted to give a nod to bread pudding. Thrifty moms have used it for many years as a way to use up stake bread. Here’s a classic bread pudding recipe to try as a yummy treat for your family.



    Casseroles took America by storm in post-Depression America, and variations kept popping up through the rest of the last century. Here’s a tuna casserole recipe that may seem familiar from your childhood. Chicken Divan was a well-loved chicken casserole of days done by. You can serve this dish over potatoes, rice, or biscuits.

    Chicken and Dumplings


    Your memories of this classic dish can vary according to where in the country you grew up. However, the recipes all feature chewy dumplings, tender chunks of chicken, and rich gravy. You might as well say it offers spoonfuls of nostalgia for many of us. Here’s a classic chicken and dumplings recipe, and here are some variations to consider,

    Chicken Pot Pie


    If making the pastry from scratch for this vintage dish is not an option on a busy weeknight, why not try some of the easy variations using store-bought dough? Here’s a recipe using homemade pastry, and here’s another one with some shortcuts.

    Fried Chicken


    If you’ve only ever had fast-food fried chicken, you are really missing out. Many American home cooks have honed their own special versions of this classic dish. Here is one recipe for Southern fried chicken, and here’s another for good measure.

    Fried eggs and ham


    Whether you have it as a hearty breakfast or as your evening meal, here is an easy classic. As with many of the recipes on our list, there are cultural variations. Here’s a Spanish version that may be more like what you remember, depending on where you grew up.



    Here’s an old-fashioned dish that you can easily modify to suit your family’s tastes and dietary restrictions. This list has meatless and dairy-free options as well as some other interesting variations.



    Meatloaf was a standby for American households in the 1950s and 1960s. Although you may have been served some nightmarish versions of this classic dish, it can be elevated to a weeknight hit.

    The essential ingredients are beef and tomatoes. But after that, you can get creative. Here is a traditional meatloaf recipe. And here are some twists on the classic version.

    Pot Roast and Potatoes


    The use of the term “pot roast” began in the late 19th century to describe browned meat cooked with vegetables in a covered pot. If you want a comforting meat and potatoes meal, here it is. And when you use a crockpot, it couldn’t be easier.

    Salisbury Steak


    If you’ve only had the frozen, microwaved version of this dish as a kid, you may have a few shudders when you relive the experience of eating it. However, the home-cooked version was a classic at one time. It often featured a rich mushroom gravy and a side of mashed potatoes.

    Sloppy Joes


     You may have horror stories of eating these sandwiches in your school cafeteria. However, your memories of the homemade version are no doubt much better. Here are some traditional Sloppy Joe recipes to try with your family. Be sure to have plenty of napkins handy; that name is there for a reason.

    Spaghetti and meatballs


    Italian-American mamas and grandmamas take great pride in their homemade sauce. But everyone can make a great spaghetti and meatball dinner. Here’s a classic recipe, and here’s another one to try.

    Stuffed Peppers


    Making a tasty meal of hollowed-out peppers filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, rice, or sauce and baking them to perfection is part of various cultures. Many American families had this dish on repeat in years past. Here’s an easy recipe that you can adapt to your family’s preferences.

    Sunday Chili


     Whether you call it Sunday Chili or just plain chili, this is a dish that many moms cooked up in a huge pot so it would last their families for a few days. You can find many, many chili recipes – from meaty ones to vegan ones. Here’s a classic for meat lovers, and here’s a vegetarian one that amps up the flavor with spices.

    Sunday Roasts


    There’s nothing like the smell of roast chicken, pork, or beef wafting through the house on the weekend. And the simplest of recipes tend to be the best. Here is a classic roast beef recipe. And here is a traditional roast chicken recipe. Don’t forget the potatoes and other veggies.

    Turkey Tetrazzini


    Grandma knew just what to do with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. However, this easy baked spaghetti recipe can warm up your family’s tummies all winter long.

    According to an article published in Health News, food nostalgia is a phenomenon that can be triggered by smelling certain aromas and tasting certain flavors that can bring you back to a different time, often involving strong emotions.

    At a time when the world is in constant upheaval, we all could use a bit of comfort and peace. Therefore, we encourage you to think back to your childhood and consider revisiting those tastes and smells with these and other recipes of the past.

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