Our 5 Favorite Ways to Use Store-Bought Pouch Meat

These smart ideas go way beyond quick snacks and school lunches.

Photo: Fred Hardy, Katherine Tucker, Ana Kelly

The convenience of a shelf-stable pouch of protein cannot be undervalued. They make easy-to-transport work and school lunches, are fast sources of protein for after-school snacks, and are great for a quick fix when you need something for dinner. Which pouch rules them all? According to the 2023 Allrecipes Community Choice Awards, readers named StarKist pouches — which come in more than 30 varieties, including many flavors of tuna, plus salmon and chicken — their top choice for pouch or canned meat. But these power pouches go beyond the basic grab-and-go. Here are 5 easy, tasty ways to use protein pouches like StarKist in meals all week long.

Rice and Grain Bowls

Rice and grain bowls are hugely popular for a reason. A healthy mix of whole grains, vegetables, and proteins, they are easily adaptable. You can incorporate almost anything into one of these bowls, and even better, they are a terrific way to use up leftovers. Grab a StarKist pouch in a fun flavor and let that guide your bowl. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Pasta

Simple pastas are one of the easiest meals to put together. And hot noodles combined with a pouch, plus maybe some bonus veggies if you have some lying around, makes dinner as easy as packaged ramen. Even better, you can make the pasta ahead and just toss with a pouch for a chilled pasta salad. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Pita Pockets

With these pouches, you are mere garnishes away from really satisfying pocket sandwiches. Just grab your favorite pita, cut in half, fill each half with half a pouch, and top with veggies, crumbled or grated cheese, chopped herbs, salsa, or any other topper. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Salads

Often the difference between a basic boring salad and a great one is a creative protein topper. After all, any bed of lettuce and vegetables can become something extra special if you give it some love. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Snacks

Pairing these pouches with a crunchy carb makes for a super satisfying snack. Sure, toasted bread is a great option for an open-faced snacktuation, but we love using these pouches with things like Wasa crispbreads, rice cakes, and crackers. Trying to watch your carbs? Use endive spears or celery ribs as edible spoons, or pile your favorite pouch protein on slices of cucumber, daikon radish, or jicama. Some of the flavors even work well with slices of apple or pear.

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