Enjoying Seafood on a Budget
Seafood has a bad reputation for being expensive, especially when it comes to home cooking. Sure, if your choice of seafood is always lobster and turbot, it’s going to be hard to keep to a budget, but by shopping smart you can absolutely enjoy it as part of a balanced, and purse-friendly, diet.
Choosing Different Types of your Favourite Seafood
Similar to when shopping for meat, exploring different cuts/types that aren’t as desirable is a great way to keep costs down. For example, if you’re craving smoked salmon but don’t want to spend your whole budget? Most large supermarkets and fishmongers have an option where they sell smoked salmon offcuts – essentially everything that would have otherwise been scrapped so it’s also great from a food waste perspective. These are great to use in a simple pasta dish, risotto, quiche or frittata.
Trying ‘Unpopular’ Seafood
Equally the likes of sardines aren’t as popular with consumers, but are a great choice. Did you know pilchards are actually the same as sardines, the fish was rebranded to raise the profile of sardines and get more people buying them. Whilst sardines are definitely appearing more and more on restaurant menus, we want to get them back in the home. You can pick up a huge amount for only a few pounds and have enough for a couple dinners for two people. They are simple to cook as they are best eaten simply grilled, or baked with a herby breadcrumb – quick and inexpensive. Here’s a simple grilled sardine recipe that takes inspiration from holiday trips to Portugal. You can also used tinned sardines in pasta dishes of this bright packed lunch tabbouleh salad. Another great tip to ask your fishmonger what white fish people aren’t eating. Fish such as ling and coley aren’t popular but are a great staple firm white fish. Use up off-cuts or cheaper fish in dishes like these easy fish tacos.
Choosing Versatile Seafood
Prawns are also an amazing way of getting your seafood fix, without breaking the bank. Coldwater prawns especially are excellent value, and are still just as versatile. Use in a thai inspired salad, a classic prawn cocktail, or a picnic perfect orzo, pea and feta salad or a coconut curry.
Always Have a Plan
Key to eating on a budget, which we have both done for years, is meal planning. Sit down at the start of the week and work out what you are going to cook on each day, and try and ensure crossover so that you can maximise your purchases. This not only applies to your proteins like meat and seafood, but also the vegetables you are buying. We like to start with one recipe that we want to make, and then look at those ingredients and see how much will be left over and then use that as a starting base for another recipe. For example, making a fish pie with a potato top? You are bound to have some potatoes leftover, as well as some fish, so add fishcakes to the list for later in the week. Making a prawn and spinach risotto? Save some of those prawns and use in a curry with the onions and spinach you used in the risotto too. This method of meal planning has served us both well throughout our uni days, and the London budget pressures!
Written by Becky and Gemma from Gills Gills Gills – a blog encouraging people to cook and eat sustainable seafood.