Both fish and shellfish offer lots of health benefits and can be used to make many great tasting meals, but for those of us who live further than a stone’s throw from the coast, good quality, reasonably priced seafood can be harder to come by.
But luckily, featuring seafood in your regular diet needn’t be as expensive as you might think. Here are some tips to keep down the costs.
- Don’t just go for fish
Fish can be expensive. Prawns and lobsters often are too, but mussels and calms generally are not.
Mussels and clams are not however generally considered household staples, and unfamiliarity discourages many from having a go at cooking with them.
But as those who have previously used them in their cooking will know, mussels and clams are easy to prep, easy to cook, and easily purchased on a tight budget.
Mussels and clams also provide the base for a number of excellent easy-to-make recipes – mussels in a simple cream and garlic sauce can be served with bread or pasta, and never disappoints on taste.
- With fish, know what to buy, and where to buy it
Mussels, clams and the like are all well and good, but when it comes to seafood, there’s no ignoring fish.
A fillet of wild Alaskan salmon will undoubtedly look the part on your plate and taste fantastic, but it’ll cost you. Unfortunately, when bought fresh, many of the other well-known varieties of fish can be expensive too, especially when purchased from the big name supermarkets.
And when it comes to fish – seafood generally for that matter – taste really does correlate with freshness, so if you’re after quality fresh fish, your wallet won’t find any respite in the reduced section.
But reasonably priced fresh fish is there to be found by those who know where to look for it. Local fish markets usually offer a wide selection of low priced, good quality fish, and when buying from fish markets, haggling will often reduce prices even further, and even more so if you’re buying in bulk.
Trimmings are another cost effective option. Trimmings are not the same as offal. They’re of no lesser taste or quality than the rest of the fish from which they’ve been removed; they’re simply the parts of the fish removed by fishmongers in an effort to make the fish look more appealing before being displayed on their stalls. If you ask, you can often purchase big packs of trimmings at heavily discounted prices.
It’s also worth noting that white-flashed fish is generally less expensive than other varieties of fish. White-flashed fish also cooks quickly, and because of its milder taste and ability to take on other flavours, it’s great for adding to sauce based dishes – which we’ll speak more about later on.
- Frozen and canned seafood is cheaper
Unsurprisingly, canned and frozen options are almost always cheaper than buying fresh. But as is the case with most things, you get what you pay for. This isn’t to knock canned and frozen seafood though. It may not be as nutritious or as flavoursome as its fresh counterparts are, but pound for pound, it’s usually much cheaper.
Seafood that’s been preserved by ice or by canning also does away with fresh seafood’s unfortunate tendency to spoil soon after purchase.
- Less can be more
The experts claim that eating fish just once per week will benefit your health. Those in the know also recommend that eating meat everyday isn’t necessary, and that eating too much can have detrimental repercussions for our bodies.
Vegetables are often significantly cheaper than meat and fish, and by adjusting your diet to include meals containing meat and fish on just one night of the week each, you’ll profit both in terms of your health, and your bank balance.
The savings to be made from switching to more of a vegetable based diet presents the option of spending more on fish without the need to increase your food budget as a whole. Making these dietary adjustments therefore allows you to accommodate more expensive, higher quality fish within your weekly diet without spending more overall.
- Cook smaller amounts
This next tip is akin to the last. Incorporating seafood into your diet needn’t mean eating vast quantities of it.
Stews, soups, pastas and curries all taste great when made with fish and seafood, and the benefit of these dishes that is that they don’t necessarily need a huge amount of seafood adding to them. Seafood doesn’t have to be the main ingredient either. These meals can also be packed out with other ingredients such as vegetables and still retain their great taste.
What’s more, as the flavour of these sauce based dishes place less emphasis on their individual ingredients, not only can you get away with including smaller portions of seafood, you’ll also find that using canned and frozen varieties often works fairly well when cooking these dishes.
They might not taste quite as good as they do when made using fresh seafood, but with everything else going on in a spoonful of these dishes, the overall effect on quality is often negligible. In any case, as many of us are aware, when you’re in need of a quick, cheap meal you can hardly do better than simply mixing tinned tuna, pesto and pasta.
So if you’re really looking to save on the price of eating seafood, adding it to sauce based meals is a great option that offers a means of combining many of the other tips to really cut back the costs.