The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Creamy Tuna Skillet Casserole

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

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Skillet meals are so easy and cheap to make — they stretch limited food budgets beautifully. This is a do-it-yourself, cost-cutting recipe that mimics those packaged boxes of "skillet meat helper" meals (minus the meat, usually hamburger or tuna or chicken, that you have to buy separately). One box of "skillet meat helper" costs much more than a DIY skillet meal (unless it's on sale, and even then, it must be KILLER to save you money).

Also, DIY "skillet meat helper" meals take about the same amount of time to prepare and costs a fraction of what a pricey manufactured "meat helper" box, with a bit of dehydrated potato or rice or pasta and a puny little packet of powdered flavoring stuff, costs. By making your own, you can boost the nutrition with the addition of fresh or frozen vegetables, plus use up any veggies in the fridge crisper that may be past their prime.

I originally found this easy, frugal skillet casserole recipe on the Hidden Valley website. I've made a few changes to suit my tastes and to bump up the nutritional content. Double the recipe for those nights when the kids have friends over or you want leftovers for another meal.

You can whip up this skillet tuna casserole in practically no time, and kids especially like it. While Hidden Valley ranch dressing is my all-time favorite, you can use a less expensive brand, but be aware that the herbs and spices in the dressing may not be quite as tasty as when using the original Hidden Valley brand.

 

Creamy Tuna Skillet Casserole Recipe

 

Cook the pasta according to package directions; add the diced carrots to the boiling water during the last 5 minutes of cooking the pasta. Drain and then set aside.

In a blender or processor, combine the seasoning mix with the milk and cream cheese until smooth.

In a large skillet, combine the pasta, carrots, peas, tuna, black pepper, and ranch dressing/cream cheese blend, and cook over medium heat on the stove until heated through.

Optional: Mix dried Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over top of casserole.

Substitution tip: You can substitute bottled ranch dressing for the seasoning mix version. To do so, omit the ranch dressing seasoning mix and the 1 cup whole milk and instead, add 1 cup ranch dressing.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

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Source: Hidden Valley website, Tuna Skillet Casserole, (http://www.hiddenvalley.com/recipe/view/116/).