What’s in Your TV Dinner? (post may contain affiliate links).

I used to LOVE Banquet TV dinners, especially the ones with Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes. As a single person, they were my go to when I felt like having a hearty meal but didn’t want to cook. I especially loved them because they were so cheap.

But of course after studying nutrition all those years, I started to compulsively read ingredient lists. As a result, I haven’t had a Banquet TV dinner in 20 years.

I’m going to take a risk here and tell you why I’m bringing this up.

I had a dream a couple of weeks ago about a Banquet HUNGRY-MAN dinner. (That’s right, I’m a bit nuts)! =)

Anyway, In the dream, there was a mom struggling with behavior issues in her son, and a doctor had written a note asking if by any chance her son’s behavior issues that day started after eating lunch.

His lunch, by the way, was a Banquet Hungry-Man dinner.

I remember thinking, “Wow! What a good doctor!” I remember the mom was worried about too many calories. However, in the dream, I was remembering and explaining to her about all of the stuff they put in those Banquet dinners, and how much better for you homemade cooking is.

She was a person who liked cooking, but didn’t have a lot of time. Sound like anyone you know?

When I woke up that morning I knew I needed to invest some time and energy into looking at what exactly the current Banquet dinners contain.

My husband went to the store for me—he’s such a great guy—and looked for the Hungry-man version, they didn’t have it, so we settled for the regular Banquet dinner.

When he brought it home, the first thing I noticed was that the label was WAY smaller than it was 20 years ago—though that could just be my aging eyes! LOL

I wish I could say I was totally shocked by what was on the label, but of course I wasn’t. My husband took a picture of the ingredients, so I could read them, I kid you not!

First of all, The mashed potatoes had nearly 3 lines of ingredients, including Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), BHT, and a bunch of other yucky stuff; the salisbury steak patty, over 2 lines with MSG also as an ingredient; the apple dessert contained some choice ingredients as well. If you want to see what’s in the dinner, here is the link to Banquet. (Though, keep in mind that the company spends an unusual amount of time “explaining away” the bizarre ingredients).

What's In Your TV Dinner?

We’ve discussed the potential health dangers and behavioral effects of artificial additives and preservatives, including MSG, previously. Click here for the post on “Artificial Additives and Our Kids Health.”

What’s In Your TV Dinner?

Since the ingredients, in my opinion, are truly horrendous, and since the main reason we eat TV dinners is because they’re quick and easy, my hubby and I put our heads together to create a yummy alternative. Ron and Nathan prepared the salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and corn last Thursday.

And last night, Ron finally prepared the Apple Cinnamon Dessert.

See below for recipes.

Salisbury Steak

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword recipes kids love
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 329kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 10" frying Pan
  • large Mixing bowl


  • 1.5 lb. Ground Sirloin
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Diced Onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules or 1Large Clove
  • 1/3 tsp Pepper


  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mixed well
  • Form patties about 4oz each should make 6 patties
  • put patties in hot frying pan medium heat cook for 15 min. on each side


Mushroom Gravy

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword easy
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 19kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • firing pan 10"
  • wooden spoon


  • 8 oz. Mushrooms
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Beef Base
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. butter


  • the same pan you use to fry the steak
  • add mushrooms and garlic, butter
  • cook mushrooms for 10 min.
  • add water beef base bring to a boil
  • mix flour with 1/4 of water until smooth no lumbus
  • add to pan a little at a time until it becomes thick cook for 5 min. more


Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword kid friendly recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 105kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 4 quart cook pot


  • 4 medium Potatoes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Milk Whole, cream


  • peel and cut potatoes into quarters
  • cook for 20 min. or until tender
  • add milk, butter salt
  • mash until smooth and fluffy


Cinnamon Apple Dessert

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword easy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 119kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 2 quart sauce pan


  • 4 apples Gala or Fuiji you can use most any apple you want
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. butter optional
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup brown Sugar


  • peel and core apples
  • Slice apples into 1/4 in. slices
  • put apples water cinnamon lemon juice butter brown sugar in pan
  • cook for 30 min.
  • add cornstarch to some water (cold water)make a slurry
  • add to apple mix to thicken

This meal shouldn’t be too difficult, and most of the ingredients will be freezable and reheatable, just like a ”real” TV dinner. 🙂 Also, if you are concerned about calorie content, don’t forget that you can reduce serving size.

In the meantime, here are some older posts I have written related to diet and our kiddos (even though some of them focus on ADHD or Autism, they really do apply to all of us, because artificial additives aren’t good for ANYONE, and we all need a healthy, balanced diet).

ADHD and Diet Part 1

Foods High in Protein (and Iron)

What Interferes with Iron Absorption?

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I wrote an article on “Why My Son Doesn’t Believe in Evolution.” Click to read it here.


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