Retro-Redo: Homemade TV Dinner for #SundaySupper

It didn’t take me long to figure out what I was going to make for this weeks Sunday Supper theme. I mean, come on, retro is where its at! I am sure we all have fond memories of classic TV dinners and i wanted to bring that nostalgia and history of such a revolutionary time.

We may turn up our noses now to those pre-made boxed meals,but TV dinners were a true revelation. Back in 1954, Swanson came out with the first TV dinners at the same time as  modern appliances, such as the huge popularity of the TV.  According to TLC, the start of TV dinners was an answer to a problem with Thanksgiving leftovers! Swanson had tons of Thanksgiving leftovers and needed a way to use them up. One of Swanson’s salesman, Gerry Thomas just traveled via Pan Am where he saw tin trays with compartments. So the Swanson brothers took that idea and loaded up the compartment tin trays. A campaign followed and ever since, TV dinners were an instant hit!

Retro-Redo: Homemade TV Dinner via

The revolutionary thing about TV dinners is that it allowed woman more free time. Towards the end of WWII, women were the usual home-keepers and cooks of the family. So having dinner ready within minutes allowed women to find other hobbies and work. The 1960’s also brought an addition to the TV dinner, dessert. By this time TV trays had protein, carbs, vegetable and dessert all in 1 package!

For today’s Sunday Supper I made a just as easy, homemade TV dinner! Meatloaf made in muffin cups are perfect for portion control and cook up in less time than a larger loaf. Mashed potatoes with sour cream and Parmesan hit the spot and sweet peas and carrots are tossed with a touch o butter…nothing better than classic! And of course we can’t end without a sweet dessert of berry cobbler to make it truly feel like home.

Ain’t that swell?

Homemade TV Dinner


  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2c breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tb ketchup + more for topping
  • 1 Tb mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • 1/2 lb potatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2Tb butter for topping
  • Peas and Carrots
  • 2 c carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 c peas (frozen or fresh)
  • 2 Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Berry Crumble
  • Please go here for recipe


  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and use a tablespoon to full muffin cups. It should make about 9.
  3. Spread 1 Tb of ketchup on top of each meatloaf and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until edges begin to crisp.
  4. Mashed Potatoes
  5. Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes and add sour cream, Parmesan and salt and pepper.
  7. Top with extra pat of butter.
  8. Peas and Carrots
  9. Cook peas and carrots in boiling water under carrots are tender. About 15 minutes.
  10. When done, drain and place vegetables back in pot. Toss with 2tb butter and allow the warm vegetables to melt butter.
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Berry Crumble
  13. You can find the recipe here

Check out all the other Sunday Supper retro-style dishes!

Sunday Supper Retro Appetizers:

Sunday Supper Retro Salads:

Sunday Supper Retro Breads and Sandwiches:

SundaySupper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Retro Sides and Veggies:

Sunday Supper Retro Desserts and Cocktails:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Retro-Redo: Homemade TV Dinner via


  1. says

    Ahhh you found the trays!! This totally brings back memories. My dad was an airline pilot and my mom was home with just us kids for days at a time and I totally remember that after a couple nights of cooking she would be sick of it ( can’t blame her ONE BIT) and would give us TV dinners. But as a kid we had no idea that she was sick of cooking and cleaning but thought that TV dinners were the coolest thing ever. Totally fun to have all our meal with dessert in one tray – we rarely got dessert growing up so this was a total treat and a break for my mom. Total win win! I love that you made these!
    Shanna@ pineapple and coconut recently posted..Panko Crusted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Baked Mac and CheeseMy Profile

  2. says

    Samantha, cool history lesson on Swansons. We make fun of tv dinners now but I bet they were such a revelation when they were first made. I can’t believe you found a tv dinner tray – I love the presentation! And this is a meal I could totally get behind – everything sounds fresh, tasty, and healthy. I think I could do with a bigger portion of the cobbler though – yum! 😉

  3. says

    Fantastic! I love how you’ve taken the retrotasique TV dinner and revamped it for your retro supper. A sure winner and no doubt tastier than what Swansons ever served up!

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Ramona! I actually just bought TV dinners (that I didn’t use) and washed out the tray to use as a photo prop!


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