Like many of a certain age, as a child I watched my fair share of “The Brady Bunch.”

Being an unusually food-focused child, I paid keen attention to what Alice was putting on the dinner table. I would ask my mother for the same meals that the most iconic family was eating at the time. As each episode aired, pot roast, meatloaf, beef stew and, of course, pork chops and applesauce were all part of my requests.

Now that I’m adult, I realize the ground beef that Sam the Butcher was wrapping up for Alice’s order was probably not lean, and if Jan was actually cleaning her plate every night, she likely had much bigger issues to worry about than Marcia.

While I don’t aspire to feed my family the same steady diet of red meat and simple carbs that was much more common back in the ’60s and ’70s, there are still times when it’s fun to make my children a dish I remember from my childhood, in this case sloppy Joes.

About the same time Alice was spooning a large dollop of browned ground beef, drenched in tomato sauce, onto a soft, squishy white hamburger bun, canned sloppy Joe sauce came onto the market and the slogan “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal” was born. Millions of housewives and cafeteria ladies, many of whom I’m sure were sporting a Mrs. Brady-like shag haircut, doled out sloppy Joes for lunch and dinner. My mom was no different.

Today I’m not interested in opening up a can for dinner — not when making sloppy Joes from scratch is so easy and considerably healthier. My spin on the traditional sloppy Joe swaps out the fatty ground beef with lean ground turkey (sorry, Sam). I also add sautéed onions and red bell pepper, along with a splash of barbecue sauce to the mix. A quick and easy coleslaw is nestled in between the meat and bun for added crunch and an extra serving of veggies.

I have no idea if sloppy Joes ended up on “The Brady Bunch.” But your bunch will like this modern take on the old classic.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter: @meredithdeeds.