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The 10 Best Dinners for Eating in Front of the TV

updated Mar 4, 2020
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I’m no stranger to eating dinner on the couch while watching TV; it’s where my husband and I end up most nights. (Yes, we have a dining room table. That’s where we keep our bills.) But I’ve found that when we’re eating on the couch, it changes what I want to make. While nothing is totally off limits, per se, some foods are just much better suited to a Netflix night.

The best TV meals do not require a knife (sorry, pork chops). Food you can eat by hand works really well, of course, but it’s best to skip messy things like wings or ribs. Ditto soups: They have a high potential for spillage. But there are major bonus points for anything solid that can be eaten in a bowl. With those guidelines — and after lots of experimentation, here are the 10 best dinners to dig into while watching something good.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken

Chinese take-out is practically made for enjoying in front of the TV. This copycat version is totally irresistible— and way better than anything you can order. If the crispy pieces of chicken don’t win you over, the thick, sweet, lightly-spiced blanket of sauce will definitely do it.

Get the recipe: Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Better-than-Chipotle Tofu Sofritas

When it comes to TV food, it doesn’t get better than a burrito bowl. Partner this meat-free topping with rice, plenty of guac, salsa, and chips.

Get the recipe: Better-than-Chipotle Tofu Sofritas

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a perfect partner to just about anything you’re watching. Round out dinner with a salad just like the kind from your local pizza place, and be sure to keep plenty of napkins handy.

Get the recipe: How To Make Awesome Pizza at Home

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Peanut Chicken Power Bowls

What I love most about power bowls is that they are just so simple to make — which is often what I’m looking for on nights when I just want to plop in front of a show. I just prep everything in advance, and then keep it in the fridge. All that’s left to do when I get home is reheat the quinoa and chicken, and assemble the bowls.

Get the recipe: Peanut Chicken Power Bowls

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn
Mac and Cheese

5. 5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

There are a lot of shortcuts to making your mac and cheese extra creamy. But this version is smart: It uses the pasta’s own starch to make a thicker, creamier sauce for the macaroni. Plus it cooks in about the time it takes to boil water, and only uses one pot — you don’t even need a strainer!

Get the recipe: Easy, Creamy 5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

Credit: Christine Han; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

6. Creamy Beef and Shells

Pure comfort TV calls for pure comfort food. No matter what you’re watching, a bowl of saucy, cheesy shells always pairs well. It cooks in one bowl, making cleanup as easy as cooking.

Get the recipe: Easy, Creamy Beef and Shells

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

7. Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos

There’s almost nothing better than a snacky meal like nachos. They’re warm and crunchy, and you can decide the exact amount of beans, spice, cheese, and salsa that you want on there. Toss some pot holders or a kitchen towel on the coffee table so you can bring this pan of nachos straight from the oven to the living room, then gather round and dig in.

Get the recipe: Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Slow Cooker Beef Chili

The beauty of making chili in your slow cooker is that it means less time in the kitchen and more time binging a season of your favorite show. Plus, you still get a super-satisfying home-cooked dinner.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Chili

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

9. Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls with Avocado and Green Tahini

Channel your love of Buffalo wings into this plant-based bowl that’ll have you feeling as good after you eat as you do while eating. It’s packed with all the flavors you love, plus plenty of crunchy veggies, and there’s no sticky fingers involved.

Get the recipe: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls with Avocado and Green Tahini

Credit: Lauren Volo

10. Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl

Hummus bowls are basically a dinner-worthy version of a snack, with plenty of vegetables for good measure. The recipe doesn’t say this, but pita chips are highly recommended.

Get the recipe: Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl