When the budget is tight, my goal is to find super easy recipes that don’t cost a lot and have just a few ingredients.
What do I have in the pantry? What’s on sale this week at the grocery store? These are questions I frequently ask myself.
Tuna is a main pantry staple in our house, because it’s a cheap and easy source of protein. I use tuna in casseroles and sandwiches a lot, and it helps keep me full.
This is a basic classic tuna melt, with very few ingredients to keep the cost down. With melty cheese and golden toasted slices of bread, this classic sandwich is a quick dinner or easy lunch for the entire family!
Scroll to the bottom of this post to get the full recipe card, or keep reading to get a cost breakdown and extra tips!
How much does this cost?
I broke this down based on only the ingredients I used and the current prices in my area. Your prices may vary!
2 cans of tuna: $1.60
Sliced cheese: $.60
Paprika and garlic powder: $.10?
Total: $3.18, or $.79 each for 4 servings
Are tuna melts healthy?
The word “healthy” is so subjective! We all have our own nutritional needs, so it’s hard to say what’s healthy for YOU.
With that being said, here are some ways to add some extra nutrition:
- Use whole grain bread instead of white bread to get extra fiber and nutrients
- If you want a little less fat, get the water-packed tuna instead of the canned tuna in oil
- Add some finely chopped vegetables in the tuna mixture
I use simple ingredients for this, most of which I already keep at home:
Can of tuna
Sandwich bread (I like Italian bread slices, but sourdough bread is AMAZING for this)
Sliced cheese (American cheese, cheddar, sharp cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, or other favorites)
Do you like adding other things to your tuna melts? There are many other optional ingredients you can put inside:
- Dill pickles
- Red onions
- Salt and black pepper
How to make
Preheat a large skillet on medium heat.
In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayo, paprika, and garlic powder.
Butter one side of each of the bread slices and lay two slices on top of each other, buttered side facing the middle.
Place cheese slices on the bread, then a scoop of the tuna mixture.
Lay the bottom half of the sandwich on the skillet, then lay the top slice of bread on top. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the bread is toasted and golden brown.
Slice in half and serve with your favorite side items.
How to store
There are two ways to store this tuna melt sandwich:
Store ingredients separately
If you’re going to make the leftover sandwich at home, I recommend storing everything separately so you get a fresh sandwich!
Store the tuna mixture in a small airtight container in the fridge. Use up within 3-5 days and make the sandwich as explained above.
Store entire sandwich
If you’re taking a leftover sandwich to work, it’s better to just grill the sandwich ahead of time. Store the sandwich in an airtight container in the fridge and use up within 3-5 days.
You can use a toaster oven to reheat this. I suppose you could also use a microwave, but just beware of the fishy smell! I’d personally be okay with eating this as a cold sandwich to avoid this!
What to serve with this
A classic side item I ate often with this is potato chips. It’s a nice crunchy texture to go with the crisp sandwich.
Recently though, I’ve been steaming some frozen vegetables- usually broccoli or green beans. Vegetables add a little nutrition boost and the fiber keeps me full longer.
I also like salads! The salad kits are super easy; but if you’re on a budget, you can save some money by buying the ingredients separately.
Other budget friendly recipes
Looking for other meal ideas for when the budget is tight? Check out my master post on meals to make when you have little money!
Print this easy tuna melt recipe now:
- 2 cans tuna
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 8 slices bread
- Butter, for spreading on bread
- Preheat a large skillet on medium-low heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayo, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread and lay two slices on top of each other, buttered side facing the middle.
- Place sliced cheese on the bread, then a scoop of the tuna mixture.
- Lay the sandwich on the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the bread is toasted and golden brown.
- Slice in half and serve with your favorite side items.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 452mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 19g
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.