“I don't know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper. It does just fine by itself, huh? I like it better than Tuna Helper myself, don't you, Clark?

Excerpt from the 1983 movie National Lampoon's Vacation starring Chevy Chase

In this day and age when many people are stretched to the max when it comes to finances a little bit often goes a long way. This is especially true for college students who have found many creative ways of doctoring Ramen noodles into something that resembles a decent meal. However, for more of you adventurous types out there you might want to give Tuna Helper a try.

Here’s what you need

There are many decisions that need to be made before you can sit down at the table and enjoy your gourmet treat. This first and probably most important one is deciding what type of canned tuna you should use. Do I use the one packed in oil or water? Brand name or generic? Solid or chunky? If you're not thinking of buying canned tuna and want to use fresh you’d be out of your mind to even consider mixing it with Tuna Helper.

My personal preference is solid and packed in water. Here in the States only Albacore tuna is allowed to be labeled as solid and while it might be a bit more expensive than its chunky brother the texture and taste is worth the additional cost.

As for brand name versus generic? Well, let me put it this way. I’ve seen cans of cat food that are more expensive than a generic can of chunky tuna.

Next you need to decide how much tuna you’re going to need. The package originally called for one 6 ounce can of tuna but with shrinking sizes it now calls for two 5 ounce cans.

Lastly, you need to figure out which kind of tuna goodness you want to grace your palate. Currently, the fine folks at Betty Crocker offer up the following yummy flavors.

I’m sure there are some generic brands or types of tuna helper out there but to tell you the truth I feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel already and won’t go there.

Here’s what you do

It should come as no surprise that we’re not talking about Gordon Ramsay quality stuff here.

Step One – Read box for instructions

Step Two – Follow instructions on box.

Step Three – Presto! You now have yourself a somewhat satisfying and inexpensive meal that will stick to your ribs and fill your belly.

For you more creative types out there feel to doctor up the ingredients in your packet of Tuna Helper with anything you like. I’d recommend some fresh vegetables and herbs or spices to enhance the flavor.

Good news, bad news

Oh yeah, Tuna Helper is not just for tuna anymore! You can now use either canned chicken, turkey or ham to add a bit of variety

For those of you with dietary or health concerns I’d recommend you avoid Tuna Helper at all costs. These things are packed to the gills with sodium and other “ingredients”

Lastly, for those of you looking to impress that special someone by providing them with a nice home cooked meal replete with lighted candles and mood music, try something else entirely.

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