Fish on a Budget

5 tips for getting the best for your grocery dollars


Rob Howard

Make friends with your seafood seller.

Your seller can point you to budget buys or specials. “I keep a Rolodex of customers to call when I get a fresh shipment. We’re always trying new fish, and that’s a great way to get good value,” says Frank Tornetta, buyer for the busy seafood department at George’s Dreshertown Shop n’ Bag near Philadelphia.

Frozen salmon

Randy Mayor

Frozen fish can be a great value.

Tornetta sells frozen wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon when fresh wild salmon are out of season. “I also sell imported frozen―but not gassed [carbon monoxide used for color retention]―fish fillets like Greenland turbot and mahimahi.” Ask your seller for guidance when considering frozen options. Some processors use tripolyphosphates, a type of phosphate sodium preservative that increases moisture in frozen fish fillets (which may be defrosted for sale). The price may be lower, but you’re buying water and preservatives along with your fish.

Herbed Fish and Red Potato Chowder

Randy Mayor

For big savings and great chowders, buy fish heads and trimmings.

If you’re adventurous, look for meaty heads, tails, and trimmings of larger fish like salmon, cod, and halibut, which are often sold at bargain prices. Simmer or steam, pick off the meat, and add to chowders and casseroles. (Don’t forget the delicious cheek meat under the gills). They’re also essential to making fish stock, which is more flavorful and lower in sodium that readymade varieties.

Use homemade fish stock in place of the water or clam juice in these chowders:
 Herbed Fish and Red Potato Chowder (pictured)
 Manhattan-Style Fish Chowder
 Fish Chowder
 Seafood Chowder

Skin-on salmon fillet

Lee Harrelson

Look for steak-cut fish and skin-on fillets.

If whole fish seem intimidating, try steak-cut or skin-on. The bones and connective tissue of steak-cut fish like salmon, cod, and halibut help retain moisture and prevent shrinkage when cooked. For the same reasons, skin-on fillets are a better choice than skinless fillets. Since these options are less processed, they’re often less expensive.

These recipes take advantage of salmon steaks:
 Spicy Herb-Grilled Salmon Steaks
 Salmon With Grilled Vegetables
 Grilled Salmon Pepper Steaks
 Herb-Grilled Salmon
 Broiled Salmon on Weinkraut With Juniper Berries

Pesto Halibut Kabobs

Lee Harrelson

Save time.

Fish can be one of the speediest foods in your dinner rotation. Click here for 20 fish dishes that can be ready in 20 minutes or less.

Printed from: