One thing I admire about my dad is how he’s able to use up what he has in the fridge. At times in my childhood, it irritated the crap out of me, but as an adult, I can appreciate how resourceful he is. He can turn a bunch of random ingredients into a pretty good meal.
This recipe comes from him. When my parents visited to help with my son when he was born, he made this. I thought he was crazy at first. I thought it was another of his crazy experimental recipes I’d hate (especially because I had so many food aversions when I was pregnant.
I was so wrong. It was so freaking good.
This was actually the first real meal I could eat while pregnant: the rest of the time, I pretty much subsisted on bagels and chocolate milk. I remember being over 40 weeks pregnant and getting up in the middle of the night to make this because I was craving it so badly.
One fantastic thing about this meal is that it’s so cheap and fairly healthy. I mean, barring mayonnaise and butter, it’s made with unprocessed ingredients, which is my primary goal when I want to eat healthier.
We still make it pretty regularly. I’d say it appears on our meal plan at least once every 2-3 weeks, not only because we love it, but also because, again, it’s super inexpensive to make.
Mini bell peppers: $1.74 (only used about half the bag)
Onion: “Free” from our garden, but figure about $0.50 based on current ad prices.
Tuna: 3 cans x $0.65 = $1.95
Potatoes: $0.75 (Possibly less – the bag was on hand, and I think I used about ¼ of it.
Total cost: $5.59 total (so about $1.40 per serving.)
I didn’t include mayonnaise, butter, salt, and pepper in the breakdown, because IMO the cost is negligible, and they’re probably in your pantry anyway.
- 1 bag mini bell peppers
- 1 onion
- 2 jalapenos
- 3 cans tuna
- 4-5 Tbs Mayonnaise (depending on desired creaminess)
- Salt and pepper
I start by chopping the peppers. I used about 5 mini bell peppers for the tuna salad, and then I chopped an additional 5-6 to use for topping the potatoes. I use jalapenos for topping, as well, but not the onion… though you certainly can.
By the way, you can totally use regular bell peppers for this if that’s what you have on hand. I just prefer to use the mini ones because they’re a little sweeter, and (less importantly) all the different colors look prettier on top.
Here’s the tuna salad mixture with peppers, onion, and mayonnaise, and the peppers for topping off to the side. My mouth is watering just looking at this picture.
Once you have all these ingredients in, add salt and pepper to taste. Trust me, you don’t want to skip this. I actually forgot when I made it this time and I couldn’t figure out why it was so bland. Oops!
One thing I love about this is that the tuna salad is even better when prepared ahead of time. That means I can take advantage of the time when my son is napping to make it, then all I have to do in the evening is make the potatoes.
Speaking of which, the other great thing about this recipe is that you can make potatoes however you need to. I was going to make baked potatoes (as per the title of the recipe), but because our potatoes looked a little, er, questionable, I chopped them and made mashed potatoes instead.
It was just as delicious as making it with baked potatoes, and looks so pretty with all the colors of peppers, right?
This recipe is super flexible. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can always leave the jalapenos out and just use the mini bell peppers. Don’t like onion? Use half, or leave it out entirely. Replace it with tomato, corn, whatever you think you’d like instead.
Tuna is a surprisingly great potato filling however you decide to mix it up.
While normally our son eats everything we eat, this is one exception. When we serve this for dinner, he either gets potatoes with tuna sans jalapenos (sometimes we mix corn in, sometimes we don’t), or we make him a more “traditional” potato with salt and pepper, sour cream, and cheese.