Here’s My Favorite Hack For Buying Affordable Seafood

You could be saving a ton of money.

November 15, 2018
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What’s not to love about seafood?

For most foodies, very few things can compare to a buttery lobster roll, fresh sushi or a heaping plate of calamari. Plus, studies show that they are packed with nutrients and can even help improve the quality of your sleep. Now that’s a win-win.

My parents regularly made seafood when my sister and I were kids, so it’s been a staple in my diet (and cooking) routine for years.

The only problem is its price.

Like most seafood lovers, I shudder whenever I see an ambiguous “MP” next to a seafood risotto or pan-seared scallops on a menu. Sure, cooking your own food can help keep costs down, but store-bought seafood is still expensive. At some grocery stores, a fillet can costs you as much as $20 per pound — sometimes even more! Perhaps one of my biggest grocery store regrets was spending close to $40 on a set of King Crab legs that only yielded an itty bitty amount of meat. Ugh.

But when there’s a will there’s a way, and that way is the freezer aisle.

I know what you’re thinking: “Frozen fish? That doesn’t sound appetizing… or fresh, for that matter.” Truth is, you couldn’t be more wrong.

If you look closely, you’ll notice a lot of the seemingly fresh fillets at the fish market are marked “previously frozen.” Not only are you buying fish that will go bad faster, you’re paying a premium for it.

Frozen seafood is different. It can vary by species, but you can keep most kinds in your freezer for months. That’s right, months. Plus, it’s cheaper. Some people say frozen fish typically costs 15 to 20 percent less than its seemingly fresh alternative.

Just about every grocery store sells frozen fish, but I’m convinced Trader Joe’s has the best quality and prices around.

First of all, they have just about every fish and shellfish your heart can desire, from crab meat, to shrimp, to langostino, which is a fancy term for the meat of a squat lobster. While most varieties will still be priced in the double digits, they’ll be considerably cheaper than what you’re used to at the fish market.

Take my three favorites in Trader Joe’s frozen section, for example. The Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillet is $11.99 per pound, a big bag of scallops (which usually contains 10 -20 jumbo-sized scallops) cost $17.99, and Trader Joe’s ahi tuna steaks are $7.99 per pound.

Did I mention everything tastes incredibly fresh and, well, delicious? I love dousing the ahi tuna in salt and pepper and searing it on my stovetop or marinating and baking my salmon fillets.

But my favorite frozen seafood is hands-down the scallops. My boyfriend and I bought them on a whim this summer and ended up searing them on the stovetop with a bunch of butter. The result? Perhaps the creamiest, dreamiest scallops I’ve ever had. It’s one of those home-cooked meals we still talk about, and that I’ve recreated many times since then. I don’t always find the scallops at my local Trader Joe’s but when I do, it feels like I’ve struck gold.

Why pay anywhere from $30 to $50 dollars for scallops when you can make equally delicious ones for the fraction of the price?

The next time you’re at Trader Joe’s, go ahead and pick up a couple different types of frozen fish. And once you’ve found one (or three) that you love, stock up on ‘em. Don’t worry, you have time and money on your side.

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