Tuna Salad with Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

I hope you’re adjusting to your routine after the long holiday weekend! A few weeks ago I shared my pantry staples for having healthy lunch options ready to go. This week I’m using one of those staples to make this light and tasty salad. The albacore tuna in olive oil that I bought at Trader Joe’s is cheap (under $2) and can be stored away until you need it. With only five ingredients, plus olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing, this salad is a cinch to whip up. Add your tuna, two pearl tomatoes sliced, a few slices of red onion, a handful of arugula, and salt to your salad bowl. Mix in the juice from half a lemon and about a tablespoon of olive oil. (I use the olive oil I keep at my desk.) And your lunch is ready! It’s been in the 90s in Pittsburgh so simple recipes like this are helping me stay out of the hot kitchen.

Lunch Pantry Staples

With back to school time upon us, I can’t help but feel the need to get stocked up and organized despite the fact that I am well past that phase of my life. Feeling like you have everything you need to tackle your work week is just as satisfying. Since I started working full time 11 years ago, I have always packed my lunch. It’s often times cheaper and healthier than many of the cafeteria and takeout options available. It’s sometimes hard to stick with it, especially when I’m traveling on the weekend, but having a few pantry staples on hand helps me transition from my jam packed weekends to the work week.

Canned Chickpeas or Black Beans
These are great for punching up a salad or veggie bowl. I often use black beans to make a taco salad with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese. I add chickpeas to roasted sweet potatoes and kale for a filling veggie bowl.

Canned Tuna or Salmon
Canned tuna is great for whipping up a quick tuna salad sandwich, but it can also be used to make salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a lemon and olive oil dressing. Canned salmon is a nice alternative that can be added to salad or paired with veggies and rice.

Quinoa 
Leftover quinoa can easily be paired with veggies, herbs, and spices for a yummy veggie bowl.

Nuts and Dried Fruit 
I often use nuts and dried fruit to make a fall inspired salad with apples, goat cheese, spinach, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Veggie Pasta
I add this Trader Joe’s veggie pasta to leftovers such as chicken or sausage and veggies to make a quick pasta dish. I either add marinara sauce or a light dressing to make it more like a pasta salad. You could even use the canned tuna or salmon instead of leftovers.

Salad Dressing 

If you are going to really commit to packing your lunch, it’s essential that you bring condiments and salad dressing fixings into work. My go-to salad dressing is balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Instead of trying to pack this in my lunch box and making a mess, I keep these bottles at my desk.

Snacks
One of the ways I supplement my lunch to feel full all day is snacking throughout the day.  Here are just a few of the snacks I try to have hand:

  • Hard boiled eggs (also good in salads) 
  • Bars (These Peanuts Go on a Date Bars from Trader Joe’s)
  • Pretzels (can be paired with dips or cheeses)
  • Market Panty fruit and nut mix from Target 
  • Granola (a good topping for Greek yogurt and fruit)
  • Edamame 
  • Multigrain crackers (also can be paired with dips and cheeses)
  • Teriyaki turkey jerky (from Trader Joe’s)
  •  Peanut butter (a good dipper for apple or carrot slices; I like the Better’n Peanut Butter brand) 
  • Belvita biscuits (breakfast biscuits that keep you full for four hours)

Kale and Apple Salad for Lunch

Kale is one of those veggies you either love or hate. I’ve never had any issues with it, but I don’t really use it in a lot of my recipes. It wasn’t until I bought a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local organic farm that I really started to embrace it.

To use the kale that comes in my share every week, I’ve been packing kale salads for lunch. This is a very simple recipe that’s easy enough to make after a long day at work and it’s healthy. It’s also the perfect fit for anyone who is still on the fence about kale as the tangy dijon dressing really takes away any of its bitterness. 

Here are the details. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! You can throw in any combination of fruit, nuts, and cheese. Use whatever you have on hand.

For the salad:

1 to 2 cups of kale
A handful of slivered almonds and dried cranberries
Half an apple chopped up
A sprinkling of goat cheese

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of smooth dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons of honey
A pinch of salt and pepper