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Journalist’s ‘anti-inflation’ meal goes viral for looking like ‘a mix of wet and dry cat food’

He described the dish as "essentially the same ingredients as a tuna sandwich in crunchy stewish form."
The "meal" in question, before and after being mixed.
The "meal" in question, before and after being mixed.@StevenTDennis via Twitter

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but for one fellow posting his culinary prowess on social media, one man’s lunch is another’s breaking point.

On Monday, Steven Dennis, a congressional reporter at Bloomberg, tweeted an attention-grabbing lunch he made, with the hashtag #AntiInflationCuisine.

“High fiber / High protein / High yum / Low cost,” tweeted Dennis, following each item with a green check emoji, indicating that he believes his meal meets all of that criteria.

“Before mixing: One can tuna w/tuna water. One heaping table spoon store brand relish. One heaping tablespoon spicy mustard,” said Dennis of the concoction in a second tweet, instructing users who may want to try this dish out for themselves, before identifying the dry item in these photos as a half cup of Fiber One cereal. “Eat promptly,” he added.

“If we all ate this for lunch we’d save $$$ and smack inflation to boot,” Dennis said in a follow-up tweet. “Original recipe used Honey Bunches but almost anything crunchy will do. I suspect crushed potato chips might be best.”

The meal, which Dennis said costs under $2, might be “High yum” for him — but to many others, it did not quite stir that same feeling. The photos started a bit of a frenzy in the comments section.

“That’s a mix of wet and dry cat food. You will not convince me otherwise,” wrote one user on Twitter

“Some live to eat; some eat to live. This isn’t either,” tweeted another user.

“Bro I gotta say your coat has been very glossy lately,” said another Twitter user, also comparing the look of the meal to cat or dog food.

“Fantastic meal, Steve,” said another Twitter user. “What does it look like before somebody eats it and spits it out on a plate for a baby bird?”

“I found something like that left on the floor by the dog this morning,” joked Congressional candidate Tiffany Bond on Twitter, proving that Dennis' Martha Stewart-esque food photos have inspired all walks of life to speak their truth.

“If anyone thinks he does this as an act, no,” tweeted someone who is likely Dennis' former colleague. “This is what you have to deal with when you work with him.”

“A giant bag of rice, ground beef on sale, frozen chicken, and frozen veggies make perfectly good healthy meals without resorting to a culinary hate crime,” said another Twitter user. 

A few folks on the thread shared their own recipes for a cheap meal, from ramen salad to make-ahead beans, in the hopes of steering Dennis to new flavor avenues. One person even posted an alternative to his lunch in the hopes of steering Dennis in a less, well, rustic direction.

“I made General Tso’s Chicken for $4,” another person tweeted, along with sharing their own photo of a plate of food, which many other Twitter users readily approved of. 

Still, Dennis had at least one supporter for his meal: a person who lauded the tip and thanked him for the recipe.

“Great tip steven, some stores even have their own generic brand of fiber one if you need to squeeze in even more savings,” said one Twitter user, although another jokester replied with: “He’s going to be squeezing plenty after he eats this.” 

Dennis did not immediately respond to TODAY Food's request for comment, but he did defend his concoction on Twitter, explaining that this is a meal on the cheap, and due to rising inflation costs of so many foods from barbecue staples to Starbucks coffee, perhaps eating more of this mushy mixture could save us all a couple of bucks.

“People really freaking out about this thread but it’s essentially the same ingredients as a tuna sandwich in crunchy stewish form,” he tweeted. Most tuna salad recipes use mayonnaise, olive oil or yogurt to extend the protein instead of the tuna water that comes in the can, but to each their own!

While there are many ways to enjoy a meal on the cheap and still be able to call yourself a gourmand on the internet, Dennis seems relatively unfazed by the criticisms of his meal. He even later shared another tuna dish he said you can enjoy in the U.S. Senate Dining Room for about $5, if you ever find yourself famished in the building. Just be sure to take a look at the rest of the menu first.