5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Eat More Seafood
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life
Many of us have probably heard the advice to eat seafood twice a week for better health. There is no shortage of positive press regarding seafood. It is heart-healthy, packed with omega-3s and a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. But eating enough to get to the recommended two servings per week can get expensive. However, eating more fish and seafood doesn't have to come with a big price tag. Here are some budget-friendly ways to eat more seafood.
1. Go With Frozen
Fresh seafood is expensive and also has a short shelf life in the fridge. To solve both of these problems, I try and always keep frozen seafood in my freezer. Opt for frozen products that are just fish or shellfish, rather than breaded or pre-seasoned products which can pack on the sodium. I also will buy large quantities of fresh fish at wholesale stores like Costco, then cut it up and freeze it in reusable containers so it's ready whenever I need it.
2. Choose Canned
I love canned fish. Though it may seem intimidating if you don't normally eat it, canned fish like tuna, salmon and sardines are just as delicious as their fresh counterparts at a fraction of the price. It packs ample protein, omega-3s and other nutrients at only $0.80 per ounce. Oh, and it's shelf stable for so it can be kept on hand and stored easily in your pantry. Try recipes like our Tuna & White Bean Salad and Mediterranean Tuna-Spinach Salad to make the most of your canned fish.
3. Shop Sales
Many grocery stores have a seafood counter located near their butcher counter. Not only is talking to the counter staff a good way to learn more about products, but also you can find out about ongoing sales. Additionally, many grocers will mark down pieces of fish that are irregular in size or need to be sold that day.
4. Watch Portions
The USDA MyPlate Guidelines considers one portion of protein (including seafood) about four ounces. This is roughly the size of one small can of tuna or one small salmon steak. Many of us eat much larger portions of seafood in a sitting, so cutting down on portion size is a great way to make your fish go further. Try thinking of seafood as a delicious side rather than something that should take up most of your plate. Our recipes like Salmon with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce and One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Spinach pack in lots of flavor and satisfaction with a 4-ounce portion of seafood.
5. Try Different Types
If you live near water (fresh or ocean), odds are that there are edible fish that are native to your area. If you're not a fisherman yourself, see if you can find people who are. There might be options for locally sourced fish at farmers markets, local fish markets and even your local grocery store. Though locally sourced seafood might not be less expensive than other seafood, it oftentimes is and your money is going towards a fresh, local product.
Additionally, certain types of seafood and fish can be significantly less expensive than salmon or shrimp. Try tilapia, cod, mackerel and sardines might be less popular, but they are more affordable and super nutritious.
Fish is delicious and nutritious, but it can get expensive. Eat more seafood without breaking the bank by following these tips, like opting for canned or frozen, choosing seasonal and watching your portions.