Now that my son is becoming a full-blown toddler and kid, I’m starting to have those full-circle moments where I do something with him that I remember doing as a child myself. Taking him to our county fair this past summer (which oddly hasn’t hardly changed a bit) was mind-boggling, as I remember it from my naive child-eyes like it was yesterday. Alongside places and activities, certain foods and meals transport me back in time. The wave of nostalgia and the warmth of happy memories that flood through when taking a bite of a childhood food is indescribable. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, yet how close to my roots I really am. I’m also thankful for my parents, as I have such fond feelings towards the foods I was raised on and my childhood in general.
Most people likely have a list of foods that remind them of a particular time of life, person, or specific memory. I would certainly bet that everyone’s list is incredibly unique. Because I was a kid in the early 2000s, I clearly remember wanting colored Shrek ketchup at the grocery store, which I can’t even believe was a thing now.
Many of my childhood favorites have recently made an appearance in my household, so I thought it would be fun to pull together a list of my personal nostalgic foods. I encourage you to think on and remember the meals and foods that you hold dear. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to relive fond memories and hopefully create new ones for my son. I’m all for testing and trying new recipes, but sometimes there’s nothing like the basics. If you have a kiddo, try serving them one of your favorites and see if they like it too.
12 Nostalgic Foods from My Vegetarian Childhood
- Goober Grape Club Crackers
- When I saw how much my son enjoyed Goober Grape on Club crackers, I about shed a tear of joy. My mom used to pack these in my and my brother’s school lunches all the time as “club cracker sandwiches”. My husband thinks both Goober Grape and peanut butter in general are highly disgusting, so I’m super excited that someone else can share it with me.
- Beans and Garlic Noodles
- This is a weird one, but I swear by it. I could even tell you where exactly the box of Pasta Roni noodles was in the old Marsh store that we always bought them from. You had to reach around a pillar just right to get to it, and I loved getting to grab it and put it in the child-sized cart that they always had. The beans have to be Bush’s baked beans, otherwise, all bets are off.
- Biscuit Sandwiches
- I can’t be the only one that remembers being fascinated by the “pop” of opening a tube of biscuits. My parents were great about including me in the kitchen, and I’ve already started to do the same with my son. The look of awe on his face when I popped open the biscuts with him this past week said it all. A frequent dinner for us was breakfast biscuits with a Morningstar Farms Sausage patty, cheddar cheese, and grape jelly. Cheddar cheese and grape jelly are a match made in heaven that I wish more people knew about.
- Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Not too long ago, I had a vivid memory of eating stuffed pasta shells, and I asked my mom what she used to do so that I could replicate it. My son loved it so much that I made it for his second birthday dinner. All you have to do is blend the few ingredients needed for tofu ricotta, stuff them in pre-cooked jumbo pasta shells, cover with marinara, and bake it together in the oven. Extra cheese on top is optional, and I’m sure you could use regular ricotta- I’ve just never had it before! Here is a link to the tofu ricotta that I’ve shared on my Instagram.
- Pb&J with a Crunch
- I still stand by this completely: Cocoa Puffs, Doritos (especially the cool ranch ones), Cheez Itz, potato chips, etc. If it’s crunchy and delicious- it probably belongs on a pb&j. Especially on a boat ride with a cheap bun, there is nothing better.
- Veggie Burger Cookout
- Not every grilled veggie burger is nostalgic, and no one serves up a burger quite like my parents. A family cookout for us isn’t complete without ranch dip (aka a packet of dried ranch seasoning mixed with sour cream), potato chips, and baked beans. And yes, the best burger is complete with all of those as toppings and grilled with Open Pit BBQ sauce.
- Morningstar Farms Bacon
- I won’t lie and say that this meatless bacon tastes even remotely realistic, but I love it anyway. I distinctly remember heating it up on a special dish in the microwave and eating as much of the white color as I could first. Sometimes I can’t resist picking it up at the store, even though separating the frozen pieces is one of the most frustrating, surprisingly difficult tasks.
- Boxed Yellow Cake
- Boxed yellow cake holds such a special place in my family’s heart, that we had it this past weekend with our cookout for no particular reason. If we had a birthday, boxed yellow cake. If we had a special occasion, boxed yellow cake. If we felt like it’d been a while, boxed yellow cake. The icing had to be vanilla, and if we found the one with colorful balls in it, well that was the icing on the cake- pun intended.
- Homemade Rice Krispy Treats
- Rice Krispy treats are one of the first desserts that I remember making by myself. I can see myself standing on a stool and watching the marshmallows melt as I took in their wonderful buttery smell. We literally never formed them into treats or put them in a pan, and eating them as a family was like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. If you’ve never eaten fresh, warm Rice Krispy “treats” by pulling from a large pile, you’re doing it wrong (at least in my family’s perspective).
- Burger King
- I give Burger King a lot of credit for having vegetarian options when not many chain restaurants did. If I was on a school trip and the bus stopped at an exit with a Burger King for lunch, I knew that I was safe. Their French toast sticks were our special breakfast of choice, and I used to walk to Burger King from my dad’s work to get a BK Veggie Burger for lunch.
- Loma Linda Swiss Steaks
- This is one food that I’ve literally never had since childhood but that we ate with great frequency. I’m pretty sure there was a year where my mom packed one for my brother’s school lunch in a thermos every day, and I remember going into our local GNC and stocking up. I don’t know if they are delicious or if they were simply one of the only vegetarian options at the time, but wow looking up the can brought me back. Maybe I should look into them if they are even still around?
- BBQ Pineapple Pizza
- Till this day, I’ve never had pizza with my parents without bbq pineapple pizza on the table. I never knew that pineapple was a controversial topping until adulthood, as it was my normal for as long as I can remember. While I do still love it, my husband and I gravitate more towards veggie or margherita pizza nowadays. Pro tip- if you’re vegetarian, always specify that you don’t want ham when ordering pineapple pizza. Pizza places love to pair the two.
If I thought long enough, I could make a very long list. Sometimes, seeing a certain product in the store will trigger a memory that I didn’t even know I had. If that happens enough, maybe I’ll write a follow-up or part 2. For today, I’ll leave it here and end with a question. What is one specific food or meal that takes you back to your own childhood?
Until next time,