The arrival of fall brings more than just changing leaves. It brings school forms, football, team registrations, and the merging of 5 family calendars into one. Who's ready for some meal planning? That's what we thought.

Depending on the era in which you grew up, you were either treated to a quiet dinner around the table, a TV dinner from the microwave, or maybe even dinners out to make it work around jobs, school, activities, sports, and homework. Regardless of how your dinner was served, it's almost a certainty that you once equated love with tuna noodle casserole.


Tuna Noodle CasseroleAh, tuna noodle casserole. What's not to love? Then again, what's to like? As a kid you felt like you were eating warm fish with noodles, which you were, but you had no idea how delicious such comfort food would be to you later in life when you (gasp) starting prepping the mostly shelf-stable recipe from your pantry ingredients.

I mostly experienced this dish at church potlucks, and while it was never my favorite (um, hello--fried chicken was on the table!), I've realized that while I never fry chicken for dinner, I do find myself gravitating toward the classic tuna noodle casserole whenever I'm feeling a little blue, a little run down, or a little hungry for more than a delivery pizza can satisfy.

Do you have a dish you equate with love from your childhood? Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. My mom made it once for my 9th birthday and I ate the entire batch, including roughly a pound of bacon. She never made it again.

2. Salmon Croquettes. The closest mom ever came to frying food for us. Little did we know we were eating tons of good-for-us fish, even if it was covered in ketchup.

3. Chicken Noodle Soup. You know the one, in the red box. Dehydrated noodles. Bits of dried chicken. Add water, boil, and serve. Whenever I'm sick, it's still number one on my list.

4. Teriyaki Chicken. The smell of teriyaki chicken on a charcoal grill stops me in my tracks even now. I once picked it out from over a mile away at a local arts fair for kids. "It smells like barbecue... and teriyaki chicken," I told my friends. When we reached the food truck section of the space, there they were: a barbecue joint and a teriyaki truck. Full disclosure: I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time.

Moms & Dads, if you ever wonder whether your cooking (or serving) of dinner to your kids matters or if they'll even remember it, rest assured that it does and they will.

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel