Please Pass the Tuna Casserole

Did you ever have one of those really serious WTF moments? You know, when something happens or somebody says something that is so incongruous with what you know to be canonically true in the world that your head spins around a few times in amazement. It happens to me every time Obama opens his mouth, but I digress. This isn’t a political screed; it’s about dinner.

It turns out I do a fair bit of the dinner planning in my house. I usually sit down on Sunday afternoon (after another Redskins win!) and plan out the week’s meals, shop for them and, when I’m in town, cook them. There are several constraints on this system, one of which is that neither of my kids is particularly adventuresome with food. While this may eventually protect them from eating slugs and putrid sausage made of pig entrails (see prior blog on these topics), it can make meal planning a challenge. Like all families, of course, the other constraint is time. So, the problem I’m usually trying to solve for is to come up with 5 meals for the week  that are (a) tasty and interesting to my wife and me, (b) acceptable to the kids and (c) reasonably quick and easy to prepare. In other words, I’m trying to avoid a menu that looks like this:

Sunday: Chicken Tenders

Monday: Chicken Tenders with Ketchup

Tuesday: Chicken Tenders with BBQ Sauce

Wednesday: Plain Chicken Tenders

Thursday: Leftover Chicken Tenders

It’s not easy, but you would think the Internet (thanks Al Gore) would help. Well, maybe not as much as you’d think. I tried two searches just now: “Quick Easy Recipes” and “Family Recipes for Picky Eaters.” The second search yielded as its #1 hit a website whose #1 recipe was “Tuna Baked Pasta.” I can’t come up with any words that would be more informative than the picture from the website.  Yeah, of course, why the hell didn’t I think of that? Take a can of tuna, mix it up with some pasta and green shit and my kids will go nuts. Seriously?

Yummy looking, eh?

The search for “quick easy recipes” yielded an equally preposterous result. It turned up a website called Moms who think about what, exactly? How to piss off your children and make them run away from home? The moms on put together a bunch of menus for a full 6-day week. Wow, great idea. I can knock out the whole week with one click. However, when I clicked on Week #1, I found such gems as tuna casserole (again!), pesto chicken, and quiche. C’mon momswhothink – THINK for crying out loud. Maybe think back to when you were a kid and your mom dropped a friggin’ tuna casserole on the table. Did you bolt out of your seat and say, “Mom! Thanks! You made the tuna casserole tonight! Can we have meatloaf tomorrow night?” And pesto*? For kids? You’re going to voluntarily turn the chicken green? It’s hard enough pushing the broccoli; no need to bring unnecessary green stuff into the dinner scene. The quiche is just plain stupid. Hardly worth commenting. Egg pie for kids for dinner. Uh, yeah sure.

Seriously, you have to wonder if the moms at have ever come in contact with an actual child. So, frustrated, I gave up. I’m looking forward to the chicken fingers.


* As a side note, pesto is the single most overrated food item there is.

About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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3 Responses to Please Pass the Tuna Casserole

  1. Find an easy recipe for pancakes, or even use a mix. Then, instead of the amount of milk they suggest, add more at the end until the batter is quite thin. You’ll probably double the milk quantity. Make sure there are no clumps in the batter – you don’t want fluffy pancakes here. You have crepe batter instead of pancake batter. You make a bunch of crepes, and the kids can have kid stuff in theirs, the grown-ups can have grown-up stuff in theirs. Or everyone can have maple syrup (if you can possibly get Vermont grade B syrup, do it, since it is more flavorful and cheaper and probably better for it, and you are sending money to the great state of Vermont). Double (or triple) the recipe and you’ve got the morning covered, too.

    Boil pasta (penne, say) for about 2 minutes less than it says on the package and drain it. Cook a chopped onion in butter until it wilts. Add a tablespoon of flour (low heat, please) and stir it around for two minutes. Add two cups of milk, turn the heat up, and stir until the milk is warm, two or three minutes (you have to stir the whole time here). You can also add a little spoonful of mustard. Add a buttload of grated cheddar cheese (12-16 ounces, and you can grate it in the food processor), stir, put the pasta back in, shake some parmesan on top. Put the thing in the oven (no plastic handles on your pan, please) for about 30 minutes. Makes the most delicious mac and cheese. Total work time: maybe 20 minutes max.

    Chop an onion and cook it over medium heat in good olive oil. When it is golden brown, add a can of San Marzano tomatoes (whole, peeled). They cost a fortune and are worth every penny. Add salt and pepper, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir it occasionally, and bust up the tomatoes as you stir. Serve over pasta. NEVER BUY CANNED TOMATO SAUCE AGAIN!!!

    Best dinner in the world: fried eggs, toast, bacon. Get the hippie-dippie no-chemical bacon made from unionized pigs – it is much better than Oscar Meyer or any supermarket brand, and you’ll be kicking the economy into high gear in a way that both you and I can appreciate.

    These are my suggestions. Eat well. Bon appetit. Mangia bene. Eet smakelijk. Cheers.

  2. BlueLoom says:

    The amazing thing about picky-eater kids is that somehow most of them grow up to be wonderful, eclectic eaters. Yup, meatloaf was a staple in the family when you were a kid (sorry, but I loved cold meatloaf sandwiches, and they had to be so doused in ketchup–or chili sauce–that the bread turned soggy). But tuna casserole? I doubt that I ever put one on the table. Hamburger Helper (maybe once or twice, until you kids rebelled), never Tuna Helper, if memory serves (memory doesn’t always serve very well these days, tho). And who could ever forget “I Hate [insert name of sister] Stew”? Imagine a kid who thinks you purposely plan a particular dish b/c you hate her.

    We didn’t have chicken tenders way back in my meal-planning days, but if we had, I’m guessing that my meals would have looked like your proposed menu. Oh, yum. Chicken tenders again tonight.

  3. andy says:

    My Mom made creamed chip beef on toast, AKA, SOS, or s*#t on a shingle. I loved it. Still do. No, really.

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