7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore Canned Tuna

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Those cans of tuna on the grocery store shelves — the ones that cost about $2 each? Don’t ignore them. You might want to because you don’t feel like another boring tuna salad sandwich, but don’t do it. Don’t ignore the cans. Think of them as inexpensive tins of protein, meal starters you can turn into dozens of inventive meals, shelf-stable little wonders you can stock up on and use later.

Here’s why you should fill your cart with canned tuna. OK, maybe not fill it, but stock up when it’s on sale and make tuna a permanent line item on your grocery list.

Because You Miss Mom’s Tuna Casserole (above)

Mom made it because it was inexpensive, easy and comforting. Shouldn’t you do the same? Mom might have used canned soup to thicken hers, but this version is made with a from-scratch creamy sauce, making it lighter and more delicious than the one you remember, but just as nostalgic and comforting. It’s also made with whole-wheat fettuccine and two (!) vegetables, broccoli and peas, so you can really feel good about it.

Because Tuna Melts Are the Best Thing on a Diner Menu

With pancakes coming in at a close second and grilled cheese with fries just below that, a tuna melt is the best thing to order at a diner. It’s perfectly crispy, just greasy enough, and filled with melty cheese and not-too-mayonnaise-y tuna salad. Making your own at home is ridiculously easy, and you can make it as you like it -- on an English muffin with cheddar, or on rye with American.

When the Cupboard Is Bare, Tuna Will Be There for You

Even if you’ve got nothing in the house, even if your cupboards are Mother Hubbard-style bare, you probably have the fixings for these flatbreads. They’re covered with a spread of white beans and sun-dried tomatoes and topped with tuna and olives — a combination of ingredients that’ll last (nearly) forever in your pantry and will taste amazing on a pita.

You Can Even Make a Very Fancy Sauce Out of Tuna

“Tonnato” is a traditional Italian sauce that’s made with tuna, egg yolks and lemon, pureed to a mayonnaise-like consistency and served over veal. The rich, creamy sauce also pairs well with poultry, fish (like swordfish) or pork, as in this Pork Tonnato recipe from Food Network Magazine.

Sometimes You Want a Giant Tuna Bagel Sandwich

The Tuna Everything Bagel is what an over-the-top sandwich should be: a toasted everything bagel topped with tuna salad and cream cheese, plus lettuce, tomato and onion, of course.

And Sometimes You Want a Tuna “Sandwich”

It looks like a sub. And you hold it like a sub. But it’s way less carb-y than a sub. When you want tuna salad but mean to keep it light, pile it on a cucumber boat instead of a roll.

Tuna and Pasta Can Mean Dinner in Minutes

You’re starving. And maybe a little impatient. Make a quick puttanesca sauce using canned tuna, canned tomatoes, capers and Kalamata olives, boil some linguine and there you go — dinner in less than 30 minutes.