21 updated lazy dinners that will remind you of your childhood

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Updated lazy dinners are your shortcut to reliving those childhood favorites without the extra effort. We’ve rounded up 21 easy recipes that hit the nostalgia spot just right. They’re perfect for those nights when even tying an apron seems like a chore. These dishes are all about minimal prep, familiar flavors, and the kind of simplicity that’ll have you kicking back in a trip down memory lane in no time.

A casserole dish filled with pasta and peas.
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Close-up of a creamy pasta salad sprinkled with paprika and garnished with chopped herbs in a white bowl.
Tuna Macaroni Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Tuna Macaroni Salad is a no-brainer for a relaxed dinner that’ll take you back to the easygoing meals of your childhood. Ready in just 40 minutes, it’s a top pick for anyone who’s not looking to spend their whole evening in the kitchen. You’ll boil some pasta, toss it with tuna, chopped eggs, a bit of mayo, sweet relish, and mustard, and there you have it — a classic dish that’s a hit for lunches or any casual get-together. Plus, it’s a breeze to switch it up by adding your favorite ingredients into the mix.
Get the Recipe: Tuna Macaroni Salad

Reuben Bowls

A bowl of coleslaw with creamy dressing, garnished with green onions, served in a ceramic bowl with a fork.
Reuben Bowls. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Reuben Bowls are the perfect answer when you’re craving those nostalgic flavors but want to keep things simple. In half an hour, you can recreate the essence of a classic Reuben sandwich in a bowl. Brown some corned beef, mix it with coleslaw or shredded cabbage, and add sauerkraut. Top it all off with a layer of Swiss cheese and a good drizzle of Thousand Island dressing. It’s a great choice for a speedy dinner or prepping your meals for the week.
Get the Recipe: Reuben Bowls

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Slow cooker split pea soup in a slow cooker with a spoon.
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup is perfect for lazy nights and updated for this generation. It’s a modern take on the classic pea soup Grandma used to make. Just throw everything in the slow cooker and let it do the work. It’s a hearty soup made with split peas, ham, and vegetables. You can set it on low for about 8 hours while you’re out or on high for around 4 hours if you need it quicker. Dinner is ready when you are, making your evening stress-free. This soup keeps things simple while delivering great flavors, fitting perfectly into a busy schedule without much effort.
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Shake and Bake Pork Chops

Two shake and bake pork chops on a plate.
Shake and Bake Pork Chops. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Shake and Bake Pork Chops are great for a quick and lazy dinner updated for today’s generation. It’s a nod to the old-school shake-and-bake method, made quicker and easier. In about 25 minutes, you’ll have crispy pork chops with a great crunch without frying. It’s a simple recipe using pork chops coated with mayo and seasoned breadcrumbs, baked to perfection. Perfect for a fast and easy weeknight meal, it’s a great option when you don’t want to spend all night cooking. This dish is straightforward and hearty, bringing a quick solution for those who crave a good meal without the hassle.
Get the Recipe: Shake and Bake Pork Chops

Baked Ravioli

A close-up of a cheesy baked ravioli garnished with herbs, with a fork lifting a portion to show the melted cheese.
Baked Ravioli. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Baked Ravioli is a perfect lazy dinner classic updated for busy nights. It’s an easy version of the traditional baked lasagna, using frozen ravioli, marinara sauce, and cheese to make a dish that looks and tastes like you spent hours on it. Layer the ravioli with sauce and cheese, then bake it for about an hour. It’s a great option for a weeknight meal that feels special without the extra work. This dish is all about convenience and flavor, making it easy to have a great meal ready with minimal prep and effort, fitting perfectly into a modern busy lifestyle.
Get the Recipe: Baked Ravioli

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

A fresh Caesar salad with chicken, croutons, tomatoes, and dressing, served in a large white bowl with a fork.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is a great lazy dinner for today’s busy life. It’s a fresh take on the classic Caesar salad, with added pasta for heartiness. In just 25 minutes, you get a quick, filling dish using budget-friendly ingredients. Combine pre-cooked chicken, pasta, and ready-made Caesar dressing with some greens for a refreshing meal. It’s a smart pick for dinner that doesn’t skimp on taste. This salad is designed for efficiency and flavor, making it a perfect choice for those who need a meal that’s quick, filling, and easy on a budget.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Stuffed bell pepper casserole in a pan with a wooden spoon.
Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole is your go-to lazy dinner when you want classic stuffed pepper flavors with minimal effort. Ready in 45 minutes, it combines ground beef, bell peppers, rice, and tomatoes in a hearty casserole. It’s an easy meal that’s both filling and quick, bringing a modern take to a traditional dish. Serve it hot and enjoy this updated classic. This casserole simplifies the traditional stuffed pepper recipe, making it perfect for busy nights when you want a comforting meal without the extra work.
Get the Recipe: Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

A casserole dish with canned tuna and peas in it.
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole is perfect for a quick and lazy dinner updated for today. It’s a streamlined version of the classic tuna casserole featuring a simple mix of noodles, tuna, and cheese, ready in no time. Mix cooked noodles with tuna, peas, and a creamy sauce, then bake until bubbly. Great for a relaxed evening, it brings a taste of nostalgia without the hassle. Serve with some veggies on the side, and you’ve got a great dinner that’s quick, easy, and perfect for those who want a comforting meal without spending too much time or effort.
Get the Recipe: Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Loaded broccoli cauliflower casserole in a baking dish garnished with green onions.
Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole is a modern take on the lazy dinner classic. Ready in 30 minutes, it combines broccoli and cauliflower with cheese and a bit of bacon. Just mix the veggies with cheese and bake until bubbly. It’s easy and fast, making sure you eat well even when you’re keeping it casual. Pair it with crusty bread, and you’re all set for a great meal that’s quick and filling. It’s perfect for those who want a hearty dish without a lot of effort or time requirement.
Get the Recipe: Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Cabbage and Sausage

A pan of cabbage and sausage garnished with fresh herbs.
Cabbage and Sausage. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Cabbage and Sausage is a simple and hearty lazy dinner updated for now. This modern version is inspired by the classic sausage and cabbage skillet. In about 25 minutes, you’ll have a comforting meal with minimal effort. Just toss together sliced sausage and cabbage with a few herbs for a dish that’s ready in no time. It’s great for when you want something that feels like home cooking without spending all evening in the kitchen. This dish is straightforward and comforting, bringing a classic flavor with a quick and easy preparation, perfect for today’s busy schedule.
Get the Recipe: Cabbage and Sausage

Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

A casserole dish filled with tater tots, shredded chicken, and corn, topped with melted cheese and green onions.
Chicken Tater Tot Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Chicken Tater Tot Casserole is perfect for a lazy dinner when you want something hearty without much hassle. This casserole has tater tots, shredded chicken, and corn topped with melted cheese and green onions. It’s quick to prepare and easy on your wallet, making it great for a relaxed evening at home. You can prep it ahead and even freeze leftovers for a quick meal later. This classic dish is updated just right for this generation. The flavors are simple yet comforting, and you can have this meal ready in less than an hour.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Crock Pot Taco Soup

A crock pot of taco soup.
Crock Pot Taco Soup. Photo credit: Plays Well With Butter.

Crock Pot Taco Soup is great for a lazy dinner, bringing taco flavors into a cozy soup with minimal effort. Just add ground beef, tomatoes with green chilies, and a mix of spices, including chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, to your Crock Pot and let it simmer. The soup has a creamy texture thanks to the addition of cream cheese and heavy whipping cream. This recipe is a perfect updated version of a family favorite. The soup is hearty and flavorful, giving you that taco feel without the mess, perfect for a busy day when you need dinner to take care of itself.
Get the Recipe: Crock Pot Taco Soup

Broccoli Casserole

A casserole dish with broccoli and cheese in it.
Broccoli Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Broccoli Casserole is a great choice for a lazy dinner option. This dish combines steamed broccoli with a mix of cream of mushroom soup, eggs, and sour cream, then topped with shredded cheese and crushed crackers. It’s baked to a golden, bubbly perfection, making a creamy and cheesy meal with a flavorful crunch. In just 50 minutes, you can enjoy the comforting taste and feel of classic casseroles. It keeps the traditional dinner bake alive for this generation, perfect for those evenings when you want a meal you can make quickly and still tastes great.
Get the Recipe: Broccoli Casserole

Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

Sausage and veggies sheet pan dinner with a spoon.
Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner is a perfect lazy dinner that’s as simple as it gets. Just spread sausage, broccoli, sweet mini peppers, and zucchini on a pan and bake for 30 minutes. This meal is a modern take on a classic, serving a balanced dinner quickly. It’s ready straight from the oven to your plate, keeping dinner easy and flavorful. Feel free to change up the sausages or veggies whenever you want a change. This dish is great for when you need a quick and easy dinner that still packs plenty of flavors, making it a hit for busy weeknights.
Get the Recipe: Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

Spinach Chicken Bake

A serving spoon serving of creamy spinach chicken bake.
Spinach Chicken Bake. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Spinach Chicken Bake is a perfect lazy dinner when you want a fresh spin on baked chicken. Combine chicken, spinach, cheese, and spices, then bake for 30 minutes. It’s an easy dish that feels like mom’s cooking but is much simpler. Enjoy it with roasted potatoes or a crisp salad for a complete meal. This bake is an updated classic for today’s busy cooks. It’s great for those nights when you want something that feels homemade without spending too much time, making it a go-to for a quick and delicious dinner.
Get the Recipe: Spinach Chicken Bake

Creamy Garlic Chicken

A white skillet of creamy garlic chicken garnished with herbs.
Creamy Garlic Chicken. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Creamy Garlic Chicken is great for a chill dinner at home, ready in just 30 minutes with one pan, so no pile of dishes to worry about. The rich garlic and Parmesan sauce make it a standout meal that’s super easy to make. Just pile it on pasta or rice, and you’ve got a perfect way to enjoy creamy goodness. Adding spinach or asparagus is a great option for extra greens. This dish brings the comfort of a classic meal with a modern, quicker version that’s perfect for today’s busy schedules.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Garlic Chicken

Fajita Baked Chicken

Cheesy chicken fajita bake in a baking pan.
Fajita Baked Chicken. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Fajita Baked Chicken is perfect for a quick, flavorful dinner. It features chicken breasts seasoned with a flavorful spice blend, it’s topped with cream cheese, colorful mini sweet peppers, and mozzarella cheese, and then baked to perfection in just 30 minutes. This dish is an updated classic that’s perfect for this generation. It takes the effort out of making traditional fajitas, giving you a simple yet exciting dinner option that fits right into your busy life. Serve it in tortillas or with rice for a complete meal.
Get the Recipe: Fajita Baked Chicken

Italian Sausage Soup

Creamy Italian sausage soup in a pot with a spoon and garnishes on the side.
Italian Sausage Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Italian Sausage Soup is a quick meal ready in 30 minutes. It is packed with sausage, herbs, cream cheese, heavy cream, and pureed and diced tomatoes for a rich flavor. It brings classic Italian tastes to modern life, perfect for today’s busy lifestyle. Pair it with garlic bread to soak up the creamy broth. This soup combines hearty flavors with quick preparation, making it an easy choice for those who want a comforting meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
Get the Recipe: Italian Sausage Soup

Fried Cabbage with Bacon

A pan full of bacon and cabbage with a wooden spoon.
Fried Cabbage with Bacon. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Fried Cabbage with Bacon is quick and flavorful, ready in 25 minutes. It’s a great way to include more veggies into your diet. This recipe is a modern take on a hearty classic that’s perfect for today’s busy generation. Use pre-cooked bacon and pre-chopped cabbage for an even easier meal. Adding a pinch of sweetener gives it a sweet and tangy edge. This dish is a smart choice for those who want a quick, delicious meal with minimal effort, making it a perfect fit for a lazy dinner.
Get the Recipe: Fried Cabbage with Bacon

Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice

Creamy ground beef skillet with cauliflower rice garnished with fresh herbs with a fork.
Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice is a real timesaver, ready in 30 minutes with one skillet. It’s a great way to get a hearty meal without the heaviness, using cauliflower rice instead of white rice. It’s rich and creamy thanks to cream cheese and heavy cream, with a hint of spice from red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Serve it with extra cheese on top for a great dinner. This dish updates the classic skillet meal into a lighter version, perfect for those who want a filling dinner that’s easy on the carbs and quick to prepare.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice

Garlic Butter Chicken Bites

A plate of garlic butter chicken bites.
Garlic Butter Chicken Bites. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Garlic Butter Chicken Bites are perfect for a quick and easy meal, ready in 20 minutes with chicken, garlic, butter, and herbs. This one-pan dish is easy to cook and clean up, bringing the simple joy of mom’s kitchen to your table. Serve on its own or over rice to catch all that garlicky sauce. Add chili flakes or paprika for some heat. This dish is a modern update on classic chicken bites, serving a quick, flavorful option that’s great for busy nights or casual dinners.
Get the Recipe: Garlic Butter Chicken Bites

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