Comfort food with a kick, this spicy tuna mac and cheese is a great on-the-go lunch to enjoy on the slopes.
After a morning of skiing, all we want for lunch is something warming and comforting. That’s why we normally gravitate towards a hot meal at the lodge. But it’s hard to justify waiting in line to get cafeteria quality food at fine dining prices. So on our recent trip to Mammoth Mountain, we started experimenting with packing our lunches in insulated food jars. This way we could enjoy a delicious hot meal, whenever we wanted, for a fraction of the price. And this Spicy Tuna Mac & Cheese was one of our favorites.
In the morning, while we were making breakfast, we boiled a big pot of water. We poured half of it into our insulated food jars to pre-warm them. With the rest of the boiling water we cooked the macaroni (8 minutes), drained, added the cheese, tuna, and a little bit of sriracha (2 minutes). We then dumped the water out of the food jars and immediately loaded the mac & cheese. All it took was about 10 minutes and we had delicious hot lunches prepped for the day.
Out on the hill, we now had the freedom to have lunch whenever we felt like it. No more waiting in a line at the cafeteria. Want to grab a quick bite on the gondola ride up? Sure. Want to have a seat at the top and enjoy our lunch with a view? No problem.
This meal had some real staying power, too, and kept us going for the rest of the day. The carbs from the macaroni gave us a quick energy hit, while the protein from the tuna kept us powered until dinner. While there are definitely healthier lunch options out there, when you’re burning through tons of calories out on the slopes, a meal like this can be a well-deserved treat.
Why It Works
‣ This is a simple meal with only a handful of ingredients, so it can be easily prepared in the morning while you’re making breakfast. Just boil a pot of water while you’re making coffee in the morning and you’re more than halfway there!
‣ It’s a crowd pleaser. Few people can resist the warming, soothing charms of mac & cheese. Especially if you have kids with a particular palette, this lunch is a pretty safe bet.
‣ Prefer salmon over tuna? Sharp cheddar over powdered cheddar? More or less spice? This meal can be easily customized to meet your particular taste.
Mastering the Technique
‣ If you want to keep your mac & cheese hotter for longer, preheat your food jar by filling it with boiling water for about 15 minutes. Dump the water right before you add the mac & cheese and seal immediately.
‣ While we used HydroFlask Food Flasks, there are many great insulated food flasks on the market. So long as it is vacuum sealed, this recipe should work just fine in any insulated food jar you pick up.
- 1 box mac & cheese, we like Annie's organic, or Trader Joe's
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1-2 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 teaspoon seasame seeds
- Prepare the mac and cheese according to the package directions.
- Stir in the tuna, Sriracha, and sesame seeds. Pack into your insulated food container and you're ready to go!
WANT TO MAKE IT FROM SCRATCH?If you have the time in the morning and want to make this from scratch instead of relying on a boxed mix, this recipe from Serious Eats looks pretty quick and easy!
EQUIPMENT NEEDEDSmall pot or saucepan
Insulated food container
Utensils for eating
Gear to get you started ⟶