Whatever happened to …

… TV Dinners?

It was one of those memes on Facebook and Ramona Meharg suggested that this would be a good topic for a Sunday morning post.

TV Dinner Tonight
Thanks, Thomas Hawk – “https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/31841531405

Now, it’s not like they’ve gone away. There are still products available in the local grocery story but, to be honest, I think the last time I had one was when I was in high school.

They were a special treat for us, growing up. Mom would buy them if we were going to be alone and needed a meal. You just put them in the oven and reheat and away you go. I have memories of soggy vegetables, really smooth whipped potatoes and dessert in the form of peach cobbler. (Which we always ate first…)

At the time, these were the only heat ’em up option that made it to our table. Now, there are all kind of quick meals and the microwave oven seems to have made so much difference. My wife is a label reader and the salt content is always one of the first things that she checks. The concept has opened a whole new industry in the M&M shops that are so popular. While the one we had in town has closed, the local Rexall store now carries their products.

My wife had her own spin on these when our fathers were living alone. She would package up our leftovers in little trays, freeze them, and deliver “grandpa dinners” for them to toss in the oven or microwave.

We’ve certainly come so far from the original TV dinner.

For a Sunday morning, your thoughts…

  • Did you enjoy TV dinners as a child? Do you still today?
  • Just what the heck is Salisbury steak?
  • Why does the chicken dinner always have 1 wing, 1 leg, and 1 thigh? And they’re always exactly the same size? What happened to the white meat in the breast?
  • Thinking about this has brought back a couple of company names – Swanson and Banquet – can you name another TV dinner maker?
  • Just what qualifies as a “TV dinner”? In a recent tour of the frozen food aisle at Sobeys, I can find frozen Chinese dinners, frozen pizza, perogies, pot pies … Are they in the same category as the original TV dinner?
  • When you look at the box and design, it seems to have been modelled around Canada’s food guide. Are they as nutritious as they look?
  • Why are the various foods not allowed to touch each other? It’s not like you cook them separately in a TV dinner (although you do in real life if you’re cooking from scratch)
  • I remember that the foil plate was always repurposed for things like paint trays after the dinner. Did you use them for anything else?
  • Did you know that there’s a National TV Dinner day? It’s on September 10. How will you celebrate?

I’d love to read your thoughts about convenience suppers. How about leaving a thought or two in the comments? Ramona, you’re on the hook for this one.

This post is part of a series on:


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. I never really grew up with TV dinners, but my mom did the same thing as your wife when my grandparents used to come over for dinner: she created her own version for them to take home. Now I think the bigger question should be, do these need to get eaten in front of a TV? What ever happened to regular, nightly family dinner times, where everyone went around the table and shared about their day (device-free)? This is something I grew up with and still love!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


  2. TV Dinners were what Mom left for us when she and Dad would be out for the evening. Easy for us to cook and clean up and a little more nutritious than the bowl of cereal we might have made for ourselves otherwise (there were vegetables in the TV dinner). We always thought they were kinda cool – a neat treat. Later on she would have them for when she was looking after the grandkids. They all had their favorite ones and she would drive all over town to find them if her regular store was out of a certain kind. Once she drove to a store an hour a way to find the favorite selection of one grandson. Grandmas! Haven’t had one myself in years, but I still like a bowl of cereal on nights I’m home alone and don’t feel like cooking!


  3. I always wanted these, but my mom never bought them. They were on the expensive side, I think. Swanson was making a breakfast version for a while (maybe only in the US?) that had sausage, potatoes and scrambled eggs. I did buy those for myself when I was first living on my own. I remember trying the dinners and not really liking anything except the dessert! My father-in-law used to bring my husband a pile of them when he’d visit in university!


  4. Pingback: My Week Ending 2019-09-08 – doug — off the record

  5. My Dad was a simple parent of four starting from when I was 10 (I was the oldest) and TV dinners were probably a life saver as far as he was concerned. They allowed us to fend for ourselves when Dad had to work evenings.

    These days I cook a lot of food a couple of times during the school year and package them up as individual lunches and store them in the freezer. Every morning I grab one and heat it up in the microwave as school for my lunch. TV dinner? not quite but a good hot meal that I know I will like.


  6. Pingback: OTR Links 09/09/2019 – doug — off the record

Please share your thoughts here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.