I grew up eating lots of seafood dishes like crawfish etouffee, Lousiana BBQ shrimp, and tilapia almondine. I absolutely LOVE a tasty dish full of seafood, but I almost NEVER like the price. If you’re like me, then you’ll want to pay close attention to these 14 tips I’ve learned on how to save on all that wonderful seafood!

1. Shop lesser-known species

I enjoy a good whitefish (especially if it’s deep fried and served with tartar sauce). But some whitefish is considerably cheaper than others. For example, halibut can be pricey, but pollock, whiting, or even cod can cut your price in half. And an oily mackerel can easily be subbed in for tuna or salmon.

  • Possible savings: 50% or greater.

2. Opt for pre-packaged seafood steaks or burgers

This may run counter-intuitive to your DIY price-cutting habits, but when it comes to seafood steaks or burgers—this doesn't typically hold true.

  • Possible savings: 15% or greater.

3. Buy frozen instead of fresh.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live within an hour or so of a major fishery location, any "fresh" fish you’re getting has likely been frozen at some point before it gets to you, whether by being packed in ice or flash-frozen for shipment.

  • Possible savings: 40% or greater.

4. Consider joining a local seafood warehouse club.

If you’re a huge fish and seafood fan, and you eat it at least 3-4 times per week, you may find that you save more by taking the plunge and joining a warehouse club. Yes, you’ll pay annual membership dues, but your frequent purchases can net you savings to more than pay yourself back for what you spend.

  • Possible savings: 30% or greater.
  • Note:: If you’re a member of BJ's, Sam's Club, or Costco, you may already have access to fresh seafood at warehouse club prices for no extra membership fees! If you want to find out how to shop at these stores without a membership, check out this article.

5. Buy trim when fish is only one ingredient in a large recipe.

"Trim" is a fish industry term that refers to the pieces that are trimmed away to produce a clean filet or other fish cuts.

  • Possible savings: 60% or greater.

6. Go the big bag route.

For scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, and other small seafood, buying big bags in the freezer section can net you big savings.

  • Possible savings: 40% or greater.

7. Check out what canned seafood has to offer.

As in #5 here, when seafood isn't being served solo, you can often get away with substituting canned for fresh. My mom makes an amazing clam chowder using canned clams she buys at Costco—I've not yet heard stories of any dinner guest who knew they weren't fresh!

  • Possible savings: 50% or greater (especially when there are BOGO sales on cans!).

8. Be on alert in March.

While this may sound puzzling at first, March is the season of Lent, which for the observant means no meat or seafood on Fridays. With fish sales slowing, you may spy deeper discounts on your favorites more than at any other time of year!

  • Possible savings: Varies by market.

9. Get the seafood counter to filet your fish and steam your shellfish for no charge.

Many seafood departments are happy to filet your fish and steam your shellfish for you while you shop…and they won't charge you anything to do it! Why? You stay in the store longer and shop (good for the store overall). It's good for you too—you save time and money and there’s no waste to dispose of!

  • Possible savings: Time spent cooking, waste disposal, and if you ask, they might even add free seasonings!

10. Don't buy expensive condiments.

Part of the high cost of eating seafood goes beyond the fish or shellfish to the condiments. Tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, lemon garlic sauce—all are easy to whip up at home for a quarter of the price you would pay in stores!

  • Possible savings: 75% or greater.

11. Don’t buy pre-packaged and pre-seasoned seafood.

That seasoning costs the store mere cents to add, but they will mark it up many dollars and cents to spare you the extra 30 seconds it would take to sprinkle it on at home. Buy un-seasoned fish and season it yourself! (Plus, sometimes seasoning hides a less-than-fresh cut…it’s best to be able to see the seafood in its plain form for yourself!).

  • Possible savings: Add at least $1 or $2 to the cost of the same amount and preparation of unseasoned seafood.

12. Don't assume cheap is a good deal.

At least on a weekly basis, unsold seafood will go on sale. The longer it sits, the deeper the discount. At some point, it may no longer be fresh enough to justify serving—no matter how cheap its sticker price becomes! To tell which cuts to avoid, notice what fresh versions of the same are going for at the seafood counter.

  • Possible savings: That $2.99/lb. you almost spent on nearly spoiled filets…and a long night of food poisoning!

13. Buy mixed seafood over individual portions of various seafood.

If you’re planning a party or event, buying the big mixed bags of seafood can be a great way to serve a hearty meal on a budget! Seafood chowder or chili, seafood tortilla soup, seafood paella, and other dishes feed a crowd, and mixed seafood bags can run you as little as $2/lb.

  • Possible savings: Enough to serve a meal rather than meager finger foods!

14. Substitute imitation seafood for small garnishes.

If you’re preparing appetizers like "crab topped mushrooms" or "crab cheese balls," imitation crab meat can fill the bill at a fraction of the cost.

  • Possible savings: 75% or greater.
14 Seafood Savings You Probably Didn't Know About