Date Night In- 1980s

October 3, 2022

I heart the 80s. The music of the time still has some of my favorite jams. Madonna, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears…I had quite the record collection for a 6 year old. It’s time for an 80s date night in! Whip out those scrunchies for your side pony, put on those bright neon colors, and don’t forget the shoulder pads, and high waisted pants. Tonight is going to be truly outrageous! (How cute am I in my Rainbow Brite jumper?)

What to Eat:

80s food was all about being quick and easy. What’s easier than some good old Sloppy Joes. It may not be the prettiest sandwich, but this combination of ground meat, onions, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce was a staple in many 80s homes. We would have these at least once a month when I was growing up and occasionally I still crave that sticky sweet Manwich sauce. Chicken Kiev with a green veggie and a side of Rice A Roni is also perfect for your date night in. Try your hand at making your own with this recipe. Ordering a pizza for take out or delivery also became very popular during the 80s. Raise your hand of you went to a Pizza Hut birthday party! If you don’t feel like cooking, ordering up a classic pie is an easy dinner.

Manwich Free Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
(adapted from Milk Street)


  • 1 pound ground beef or pork
  • 5 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar(light or dark)
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Burger buns or crusty sourdough bread
  • Optional: To add some more veggies 4 cups of baby spinach and 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard


  1. In a large bowl, combine the meat, 2 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire, the thyme and 1 teaspoon pepper; mix well with your hands.
  2. In a skillet over medium, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add in the paprika, stir until fragrant. Stir in the brown sugar, tomato sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons Worcestershire and 2 tablespoons vinegar, then bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the pork mixture and bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring to combine and breaking up the meat. Reduce to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside, partially covered.
  5. Heat the oven to broil with a rack about 6 inches from the element. Place the bread on a broiler-safe baking sheet. Brush the remaining oil, broil until golden brown. If you are using Sourdough bread make sure to do both sides, flipping the slices once, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the bread to individual plates.
  6. Optional: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  7. Add the spinach and toss, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the spinach evenly among the bread, then spoon on the meat mixture.

For dessert if you can find Viennetta it’s perfect for your 80s themed night. Layers of paper thin chocolate that shattered in your mouth between white ribbon ice cream. So good! A simple poke cake made with cake mix and jello is another good dessert choice. Strawberry poke cake is my favorite, topped with Cool Whip and fresh strawberries, yum!

What to Drink:

Drinkers in the 80s really loved their sweet and colorful beverages. Wine coolers were super popular as was anything with Blue Curacao. If fruity is your thing an Alabama Slammer or Blue Lagoon will be right up your alley. Light beer also made its debut. For a non alcoholic choice Dr. Pepper and Capri Sun were super popular and the feud between Coke and Pepsi was still going strong.

What to Listen to:

No need to sit in front of your tape deck to catch that new favorite off the radio and hope the DJ didn’t talk over the ending. So annoying! Spotify has some great playlists, from Synth Pop to Hair Bands the music of the 80s was epic. This 80s Hits list has a great mix of all the favorites.

What to Do:

Play some classic video games! If you have a Nintendo Switch you can access all of the classic Zelda and Mario games. Just be careful not to get what my parents would call “Nintendo thumb”. When you would play for so long or hit the buttons too hard so your thumb would get sore. Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly were super popular board games that you could play. More in the mood to veg out? There are also some great movie gems that can keep you entertained all night. Classics like The Goonies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Labyrinth, Desperately Seeking Susan (huge Madonna fan over here), The Princess Bride…anything John Hughs. There are TOO many to list. A cartoon marathon would also be super fun. Shows like The Care Bears, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Rainbow Brite were my favorites growing up. Can you tell I’m an 80s kid?

I hope your date night is totally rad!

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