The more I work as a temp, the more I realize that it has a few advantages. You’re sort of a free agent, you get paid weekly, and since you’re not officially on the employee roster, you don’t have to do things like break room duty and clean up after your coworkers. But temping has huge disadvantages, too: you get paid weekly (yes, it’s nice, but it’s also much harder to budget and pay big bills like rent this way!), you have zero hope of health insurance, and things like national holidays or joining your mom on a 1 day stay-cation hurt your paycheck immensely. No holiday pay can make an enjoyable day like the 4th of July seem a little less exciting, because you know that celebrating the nation’s independence is hindering your own independence. Financial independence, that is.
Yeah, yeah, so what does all of this have to do with food, Poor Girl? It means I really can’t afford to do much shopping outside my own kitchen right now. Which isn’t out of the ordinary for me, of course. It’s how I’m able to save on food and forces me to get creative. That’s exactly what Bare Bones staples are for and I am ever-so-grateful for them, as they never fail to bail me out of a lot of tight spots. And not just financial tight spots, either! Cooking up a big batch of quinoa or brown rice or couscous at the beginning of the week can be a total time saver if you’re uber-busy the way I’ve been this summer. For the latter part of the week, I decided to make use of the last bits of leftover veggies in my fridge and tossed them together with my remaining couscous to make a simple little salad. A couple of cans of tuna thrown into the mix for some protein, and I had an easy, tasty, and healthy salad that’s just perfect for summer work lunches.
There’s nothing to this recipe, really. If you don’t like the veggies I use in my version, feel free to make use of those you like the best. As for the dressing? I made a quick olive oil & lemon juice dressing for mine, but you can use your favorite bottled dressing or any other vinaigrette concoction to add some extra zip to your salad. Have fun with it! That’s the beauty of dealing with bare bones ingredients: there’s no choice but to put on your thinking cap and come up with something that’ll make good use of leftovers and the few staples you may have in your pantry. And no matter how modest the end result turns out, you’ll be surprised at how tasty the simplest ingredients can be when thrown together in just the right way.
Tuna, Veggie & Couscous Salad (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: ~$0.90)
1 can chunk light tuna in water, drained
1/2 small carrot
1 small red bell pepper
1 medium tomato
1/2 medium red onion
3-4 T your favorite vinaigrette or lemon dressing
Chop the red bell pepper, cucumber, tomato and red onion into 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces and grate the carrot. In a large bowl combine the cooked couscous, tuna and all the veggies and toss together. Add the dressing and mix to combine. Serve on its own or with some baby spinach or spring mix, and enjoy!