Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Easy Comfort Food Dinners

Meatloaf is one of the most popular comfort foods in the United States. See more comfort food pictures.

The term "comfort food" sprang up in the 1970s, but it wasn't until the last decade or so that it began to be commonly used. Now, though, there are entire cookbooks on comfort food, and more and more restaurants are serving these soothing dishes that tend to evoke positive memories, especially of home. The more recent emphasis on cooking comfort food is due, at least in part, to tight economic times -- perhaps a testament to the fact that these dishes are usually easy and inexpensive to prepare.

What qualifies as comfort food obviously varies by person, family, region and ethnicity. What one person finds tasty and reminiscent of a happy time, another person might hate. And while certain foods -- say, grits -- may be a common comfort food among Southerners, they'll rarely be cited as such by those living elsewhere in the United States.

Nevertheless, there are definitely certain foods that a majority of Americans have been regularly noshing on for decades, and would agree are some of our top comfort foods. Here are five such meals, all of which are a snap to make.