Shopping and eating sustainably can come with a hefty price tag. For many of us trying to cut food spend, buying sustainable products can seem unjustifiable or simply out of reach. When it comes to fish and seafood, however, there are lots of affordable products on offer in many different aisles of the supermarket with the blue MSC ecolabel (find out more about what the ecolabel means here). Read on for our top tips on eating cheap while reducing your ocean impact.

Get creative with cans

Canned fish sometimes (and in our opinion, unfairly) gets a bad rep for being an uninspiring dry-store ingredient. But if you know which cans to buy and what to do with them, they can create deliciously satisfying low-cost meals.

Products to consider

  1. Stockwell & Co Tuna Chunks in Brine
  2. King Oscar MSC Sardines with Basil Oregano & Garlic (drained 75g)
  3. John West Kipper Fillets in Oil 160g
  4. Cornish Sardines in Tomato Sauce 100g
  5. Anchovy Fillets in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (drained 60g)
  6. Wild Pacific Pink Salmon 213g

Try out Dr Sophie Ruston-Smith’s (@TheCornerPlot) baked cheesy sardine pasta using MSC certified Cornish Sardine Fillets for £1 at Tesco.

Neha Gandesha (@squashedpickle) also uses MSC certified canned tuna to get sustainable fish into her kids’ diets at a reasonable price. She rustles up quick mini pies with 55p tuna, potato, spinach, and cream cheese inside a puff pastry case for a simple recipe that’s delicious and packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. “Great for picnics and a little on-the-go snack!”

Don’t fear frozen

The frozen vs fresh fish debate is still a hot topic among seafood lovers. We want to end the rumour that fish loses its taste, freshness and nutrients when frozen – it doesn’t! Most fish is frozen as soon as it is caught, quickly preserving all its flavour and nutritional goodness.

Eating frozen MSC certified fish is one of the best ways to eat seafood sustainably. It dramatically cuts household food waste and is a great way to bulk buy and maximise your mealtime ingredients.

Products to consider

  1. Hearty Food Co 10 Fish Fingers 250G for 80p at Tesco
  2. Birds Eye Cod Fishcakes x 4 198g for £1.40 at Sainsbury’s
  3. Sainsbury's 10 Breaded Omega 3 Pollock Fillet Fish Fingers 300g for £1.30
  4. J. James White Fish Fillets 520g for £2.35 at Sainsbury’s

For a fun and thrifty recipe, give Theo Michaels’ (@theocooks) sustainable fish finger taco recipe a try. Crunchy fish fingers paired with lettuce, mayo, pickled red onion and herbs in a soft tortilla are an innovative way to get your healthy fix of fish and veg.

Switch up your species

Are you crazy for cod or a stickler for salmon? In the UK, the most popular fish species among seafood eaters are known as the big five: cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns.

While you can buy many of these species at a relatively good price, and with the blue MSC ecolabel, there are lots of other lesser-known alternatives that are cheap, sustainable and equally as tasty.

Pollock, sometimes known as saithe, coley or just whitefish, is a delicately flavoured fish in the same family as cod. It works really well pan fried or in batch-cooked dishes like fish pie; you can find a bag of MSC certified 700g fillets at Iceland for just £4.75. Hake is another great whitefish alternative. With flaky, firm flesh and a subtle flavour, it’s delicious in the pan or under the grill and comes in at just £2.75 for two smoked MSC certified fillets at Aldi.

Get shellfish savvy

Shellfish is simple to cook, has a low ocean impact (if MSC certified), and can be found at affordable prices in many UK supermarkets, proving it’s not just reserved for fancy restaurants or seaside establishments.

Mussels, for example, are a brilliant sustainable choice. They have a very low carbon footprint compared to other protein sources because they need very little to thrive, feeding off organic particles found in the ocean, and can actually improve the water quality around them by filtering out nutrients and phytoplankton.

If you want to bring a fresh taste of the ocean home, then look out for our pick of some of the best low-cost shellfish available with the blue MSC ecolabel.

Products to consider

  1. Aldi The Fishmonger Cooked Scottish Mussels With Garlic & Butter 450g for £1.79
  2. Lidl Lighthouse Bay Coldwater Prawns 150g for £1.65
  3. Ocean Crown Gluten Free Cooked & Pickled Cockles 200g for £1.85 at Morrisons

There is lots of affordable and sustainable seafood available in the UK, you just need to know where to look and how to identify it! Head to our handy shoppers guide to see where else you can pick up delicious fish that doesn’t cost the ocean, or the earth.