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Tuna Noodle Casserole

tuna noodle casserole

Recipe At-A-Glance

Makeover this classic Tuna Noodle Casserole to be more health-friendly by using whole grain noodles and a healthy homemade version of the cream of celery soup—you’ll never go back to the canned stuff!

Freezer Friendly

Ready in 50 minutes

We’re still in waiting mode here for the little one to make her arrival (Craig really wants it to be today because of the full moon/Friday the 13th thing—that apparently only happens every 50 years or so). I’m honestly doing just fine with playing the waiting game. I’m not the most comfortable I’ve ever been, but I’m definitely enjoying the extra free time. I’ve even had time to do some freezer filling! I know we’ll definitely appreciate some stashed foods in the coming weeks.

When I was thinking about what foods I wanted stashed in the fridge and freezer for post-baby, I knew I definitely wanted some comfort foods. Tuna noodle casserole is one of those foods that I had so often as a kid, that it just screams “comfort!” to me. And when I got my first apartment as a young college kid, my Mama jotted down the recipe on a piece of paper so I could make sure to get some good old-fashioned comfort even though she wasn’t nearby.

tuna casserole

The original recipe for this dish uses canned condensed soups to give it its creamy texture and tons of flavor. I’m not a huge fan of those soups because they’re mostly packed with artificial ingredients and tons and tons of sodium (and not a lot of nutrients). There are some all-natural versions out there, but at almost $5 a can, they mean making tuna noodle casserole is no longer an affordable comfort food, but a pricey gourmet dish!

tuna casserole

Instead, I use my own versions of those condensed soups that are homemade, all-natural, and way tastier. I actually make big batches of cream of chicken, cream of celery and cream of mushroom soups and freeze them in “can-sized” portions just for dishes like these. Combine that with whole grain egg noodles, and this dish is darn near health food.

MY OTHER RECIPES
tuna casserole

I tripled this recipe and divided it between three square dishes for freezing and one for immediate eating. To freeze, I just line a square baking dish with overlapping, overhanging foil, and then fill with the mixture and toppings. Then, I just fold over the foil to make a seal, and pop the whole thing in the freezer for a few hours until solid. Then, I pop the tuna noodle casserole brick out of the square baking dish, and slide it into a labeled gallon zip-top bag (I make sure to label the bag with what the casserole is, when I made it and, most importantly, what baking dish it’ll fit back into).

tuna casserole

Then, when it’s time to cook, I can just plop the frozen brick into the baking dish (foil and all) and either let it defrost completely in the fridge if I’m on top of things, or cook it from frozen for about an hour longer than the original cooking time. Whip up a fresh green side salad and dinner is served!

Enjoy!
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Tuna Noodle Casserole


  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Dinners

Description

Makeover this classic casserole to be more health-friendly by using whole grain noodles and a healthy homemade version of the cream of celery soup—you’ll never go back to the canned stuff!


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked al dente
  • 2 5 cans tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (about 1-1/2 cups) cream of celery soup (see headnote)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a two quart casserole dish, set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add in the celery, onion and green pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sautéed veggies, egg noodles, tuna, mayo, and salt. Set, aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream of celery soup and milk and heat over medium-high heat until heated through, about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Add the mixture to the noodle mixture, tossing to coat.
  5. Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crunchy.

Notes

To Freeze:  Line a square baking dish with aluminum foil so that enough foil overhangs the pan to wrap back over. Fill with unbaked casserole, and fold over the foil to seal. Freeze until solid, and then transfer to a labeled zip-top bag. To prepare, either defrost in a baking dish overnight in the fridge, or bake from frozen, adding an hour to the bake time.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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8 comments

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  • I haven’t had tuna casserole in years, but I used to really enjoy it. I think macaroni and cheese is probably my favorite comfort food. :) I hope you don’t have to wait much longer!!

  • Ali SAYS

    Holy heck, taking it OUT of the container to store is genius!!!! I always have containers tied up doing storage duty in the freezer….well no more. Brilliant. (somehow, muffins always come out of the containers, but soups, stews & casseroles stay in the containers. Not clear why.)

  • You are amazing – making your own soups! I hope I do that someday! I didn’t used to like tuna (crazy) but now I eat it all the time and this recipe sounds SO yummy. Best wishes on the little one – I think it would be so cool for her to come today!

  • i was just thinking of you and the little one..shes taking her own sweet time. sending you all the good vibes :)

  • Sara SAYS

    You and your freezer meals for post-baby—so smart! I know a few other bloggers, and another real life friend of mine, who did the same thing and they’re so glad they did. My mother used to make the same tuna casserole with the crumb topping and using the canned soups, and I absolutely loved it when I was a kid. I haven’t had the casserole in ages but now I want to try and make it again. Any chance the homemade soups are here on your site already? I’ll have to look. I have made homemade green bean casserole for Thanksgiving many times using homemade cream of mushroom soup and people just love it and rave about how better it tastes (imagine that!) with fresh green beans and homemade creamed mushroom soup.

    The best thing about this post, for me, was how you froze the dish, folded it up, and then labeled it and what dish it fits nicely back into. Never would have thought to write down about which dish it pops back into! So great! :)

    Here’s to a few more days for you of free time, but I agree with your husband, I think it would be cool if your kiddo came on the last full moon on a Friday the 13th that we’ll see until like 2049 I think the news said. :o

    • Sara SAYS

      And if I had read the recipe all the way through I would have seen the link you provided for the cream of celery soup! HA!

  • Ashley SAYS

    I was due on Thursday, and Friday was a Blue Moon — second full moon of the month, which doesn’t happen often. Hence the saying “once in a blue moon.” I so wanted a blue moon baby, but she came Saturday :-) maybe your little lady will follow suit and be here today!!

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe! I made it tonight and I was nursing when the oven timer went off so my husband pulled it out and his exact words were “Did you make this differently than you usually do? It looks…. appetizing.” Ha! It was a hit with my kids too.

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