In just about every workplace I’ve been in, tuna reigns supreme. Lunchtime is a tinny symphony of forks scraping out chunks of tuna in springwater, olive oil or mayo with corn. Tuna on crackers. Tuna with veggies. Tuna in a wrap with some sprouts.
Tuna, after all, is a woman’s best friend. It’s fast, it’s flexible, it’s low-fat, and at under $2 a can, it’s bloody cheap too. But after almost a decade of dragging out a tin for my workday meal, I’m tired.
My imagination, once relishing the daily task of ‘What will I make with tuna today?’ is exhausted, and shoveling the 95g of tinned fish down my gullet is a chore I can no longer bear to face.
So I set out on a mission to find some replacements.
Speaking with Melbourne nutritionist Melanie McGrice, I made the criteria clear: it needs to be fast. Easy. Cheap. Not involving more than two items of tupperware. Monday morning rushing-for-the-bus friendly.
Here’s are Melanie’s top five replacements for the dreaded tin of tuna.
Whether you choose to buy or make your own soup, it is a satisfying option when you are super hungry and on code-red for cheeseburger cravings.
“Soups are often rich in vegetables so are a great way to increase the antioxidants in your diet,” says Melanie. “They can be made in advance and reheated, and I love adding different types of legumes for a great vegetarian meal alternative.”
Don’t go thinking you need to get all Russian Gulag on your soup options for them to still be healthy. Pack them with lean meat, chickpeas, lentils, wholegrain pasta, potato – they will fill you up and curb those 3pm biscuit binges.
No, unfortunately we don’t mean the greasy Sunday night boxes of Chinese food, girlfriend. We’re talking about your healthy and delicious mid-week meals.
This is a serious life hack: just make a bit extra at dinner. Don’t just hope for leftovers, MAKE leftovers. You think you’re ever going to use the one-sixth of a capsicum you didn’t use for dinner last night? NO! So suck it up and make an extra serving for lunch. Your Monday morning version of yourself is going to be all about that. (Post continues after gallery.)
“I have to admit that this is one of my favorites,” says Melanie. “Eating leftovers for lunch means that you tend to get more variety for your midday meal, and you’re much more likely to eat something substantial so less likely to turn to treats mid afternoon.” Make it a habit when prepping your dinner meal, and tuna won’t even get a look in.
Our Creamy Beetroot and Mint Meal Pot has us dreaming of our next meal time! Have you tried it yet? #beetroot #mint #mealtime #lunch #delicious #snack #tasty #amazing #love #risotto #pitango A photo posted by Pitango Soups (@pitangosoups) on Aug 10, 2016 at 1:12am PDT
Most supermarkets now feature a whole aisle dedicated to quick and easy lunches – and pre-made risotto pouches are a corker. Contrary to popular diet belief that rice/risotto is off limits, a small portion is actually really good for you. It’s low GI and will keep you fuller, for longer.
“There are now loads of quick and easy microwave risottos that you can buy at the supermarket and quickly heat in the microwave,” recommends Melanie. “I recommend options with a four bean mix to lower the GI.”
4. Patties and salad.
Your life is about to change. If you have a spare hour on a Sunday arvo – and judging from our collective Netflix habits, we all do – take the time to prep some patties. Like a pie, casserole, or first year uni essay; you can shove whatever you like in these things and it will still turn out OK.
“Veggie patties can be cooked in bulk and either eaten cold or warmed in a microwave,” says Melanie. “You can also substitute for salmon patties for a boost of omega 3, or mince patties, but make sure you serve these with a side salad as they don’t have as many veggies.”
Make ’em, cook ’em, divvy ’em up, and freeze ’em. Your life just got so much easier.
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A frittata is one of those dishes that sounds fancy and stressful but is actually easier than making a hot Milo. All you need is a dish, some eggs, and any other ‘bits’ you want included.
I recommend some ham, asparagus, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. Mix them together, put it in the pan, and all of the sudden your lunch consists of something that could legitimately be included on a restaurant menu…not beige-on-beige tuna and crackers. That sh*t is depressing.
“Frittata is another favorite of mine because I can make it in advance and then either reheat or eat cold,” says Melanie. “It’s filling, yet not high in kilojoules and it’s a great way to get some veggies in at lunch time.”
Super easy lunch: Mason Jar Salad. (Post continues after video.)
Like anything, the more prep you put in, the better you’re going to fare. Yes, grabbing a pre-cooked sleeve of brown rice, tin of tuna, and handful of something green will take you under 30 seconds, but it’s not going to feel terribly inspiring once midday comes around.
So go on, love. Treat yourself. Say no to the tuna, and bake yourself a nice old frittata tonight.
You deserve it.