My Dad’s Best Dinner Tastes Like a Treat But Is So Simple

It only takes 5 ingredients to make.

<p>Getty Images/Allrecipes</p>

Getty Images/Allrecipes

Many families have their go-to affordable recipes for making the most of their food budget. Sometimes, kids don’t even realize that some of their favorite meals were the ones that stretched those food dollars. I didn’t know it then, but I realize now that the grilled cheese and Campbell’s Tomato Soup nights were exactly that. As a kid, it was simply one of my favorite dinners. '

Allrecipes Email Coordinator Taylor Boeser’s family had one of those dishes. The only recipe she recalls her father cooking—except for when he was the outdoor grillmaster—was a creamy tuna dish served over shoestring potatoes. Imagine how pleased she was when she found a similar recipe here on Allrecipes known as Hard Times Creamed Tuna.

“It’s funny to me that it’s called Hard Times Creamed Tuna because it was always a treat,” says Taylor. “He learned the recipe from his mom, who was a homemaker when he was growing up in the 70s and 80s. His version included canned peas in the mixture and was always served over Pik-Nik shoestring potatoes.” (Pik-Nik shoestrings are a type of hard, crunchy potato sticks.)

“He was always so excited to make this for me even though others didn't love it as much (It's a pretty polarizing dish), and I have so many memories of it that I hold near to my heart, which makes it even better!” she says. “I imagine his love for it was in part from some of the memories he had with his mom, too.”

What Is Hard Times Creamed Tuna?

If you’re familiar with Creamed Chipped Beef—jarred dried beef cooked in a creamy sauce and usually served over toast, but sometimes served over home fries—then you’ll understand the concept behind Creamed Tuna.

The tuna version is made with milk, butter, and flour with a can of chunk light tuna. Quick, easy, and inexpensive, it, too, is usually served on top of toast. There’s no mention in this recipe of spreading butter on the toast. Butter can sometimes be a luxury, so it makes sense that a recipe with “Hard Times” in the title doesn’t include any more butter than is necessary.

Taylor is not the only one in our Allrecipes community with fond memories of this dish. Over 100 members have given it a 4.5-star review, and many have shared memories of how their families prepared the recipe and put their spin on it.

Ways to Customize Hard Times Creamed Tuna

Member Nightfall shared this memory: “My goodness, this reminds me of Lenten suppers, afternoons when I was sick, and quiet moments with just my mom and me. But, you absolutely, positively must have frozen baby peas added to the recipe, and if you are feeling rich, then butter your toast before adding the creamed tuna.”

Tina serves it over rice, while another member’s mother sprinkled crushed peanuts or cashews over the top. Michelle Christie’s family used cream of mushroom soup and Joycesulvinski adds half a cup of sour cream to the mixture.

I like abasox’s suggestion to eat it on top of mashed potatoes and Sarah F. Carr's suggestion to serve over crispy Chinese noodles for extra crunch.

There seem to be endless ways to customize this inexpensive comfort food that makes Taylor feel nostalgic, even though it’s less than picture perfect.

“The appearance of creamed tuna over shoestring potatoes alone is enough to scare people off,” she says, “but I would give anything to have it for dinner one last time with my dad.”

Read the original article on All Recipes.