Five Easy Lunches Under 400 Calories That Start with a Can of Tuna
Welcome to Recipe Equation, the home of Kitchn’s easiest 5-ingredient meals. Don’t worry, this is the kind of math you’ll enjoy — simply add up the ingredients for a quick solution to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
A can of tuna is like the little black dress of the pantry. Classic and understated on its own, it becomes almost unrecognizable when dressed up with a few smart accessories. We recently took the budget-friendly fish for a spin in our lunch boxes and came out with five (five-ingredient) lunch equations that clock in at fewer than 400 calories.
5 Recipe Equations for Canned Tuna
- The tuna: Each of these recipes uses one serving (about 1/4 cup) tuna from a five-ounce can. We like Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna with Sea Salt, which is sustainably and ethically sourced and costs just $4 a pop. Use up the full can by scaling up the recipes and packing a few days’ worth of lunches at once.
- The calorie count: These equations add up to no more than 400 calories — a common calorie budget at lunchtime. We packed each one with protein and fiber to keep you full without breaking that budget. If your budget gives you more calories at lunch, throw in a side of veggies or fruit or a handful of nuts.
- The ingredient count: Because you likely already have them on hand, we don’t include olive oil, lemon juice, salt, or pepper in our “five-ingredient” count.
1. Pesto Tuna Quinoa Salad
Liven up your midday grain bowl with protein-packed tuna, creamy white beans, peppery arugula, and a swirl of nutty pesto.
2. Lemon-Caper Tuna Toast
This lightened-up twist on a bagel and lox takes the Sunday brunch staple into lunch box territory.
The equation: 1 toasted whole-wheat sandwich thin + 2 tablespoons dill cream cheese + 1/4 cup drained tuna + a handful of sliced cucumbers + 1 tablespoon capers + a squeeze of lemon + salt and pepper
3. Tuna Niçoise Lettuce Cups
These easy-to-eat Bibb lettuce cups are stuffed with all the best components of a classic Niçoise salad.
The equation: 2 Bibb lettuce leaves + 1/4 cup drained tuna + 1 hard-boiled egg + handful of halved cherry tomatoes + 2 tablespoons mixed olives + drizzle of olive oil + salt and pepper
4. Tuna “Sushi” Bowl
Forget poke — a can of tuna makes an even more delicious sushi bowl when dressed with soy sauce and olive oil and tossed with veggies.
The equation: 1/2 cup cooked white or brown rice + 1/4 cup drained tuna + 1/4 cup chopped avocado + 1/4 cup shelled edamame beans + 1 tablespoon soy sauce + drizzle of olive oil (top with sesame seeds and sliced radishes, if you like)
5. Tuna Cucumber Boats
Cool and crunchy cucumbers make a great base for a Mediterranean-style tuna salad. Toss the tuna with the olive oil, bell pepper, and salt and pepper; pile onto hummus-stuffed boats; and finish with salty crumbled feta.
The Equation: 1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise, de-seeded, then halved crosswise + 2 tablespoons hummus + 1/4 cup drained tuna + a handful of chopped red bell pepper + a drizzle of olive oil + salt and pepper + 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
What’s your favorite can-o’-tuna lunch? We’d love to hear all about it.