When friends came to visit over Fourth of July, I did go into a slight panic about what I was going to serve.
It was a month after I was laid off from my job, and I was trying to be very budget conscious, while still eating healthy, wanting to prepare a nice spread and still entertaining the way I usually do.
Surprisingly, it was actually easier than I thought. Specifically, this grilled fish dinner was not only budget-friendly, but also pretty quick to prepare while still being impressive.
Here are some tips on how to throw a budget-friendly grilled seafood dinner.
Have a Plan
I have to be honest, I usually like to do things pretty randomly. In the past, I’ve scanned a variety of recipes, bought a bunch of items and then winged it. This time, I narrowed the menu down to what I was going to make, with some flexibility, and then bought just the items I needed to make it.
This, along with know your prices, is the single best piece of advice I can give you. I used to be super cost-conscious. But, then I started making more money, got caught up with food trends, name brands and it all went out the window, for the most part. Now, for the most part, I know average prices at my local stores and shop accordingly.
Here is what I think is the best kept secret that I wish someone told me earlier – buy fish at Trader Joe’s. Some people tend to think Trader Joe’s is a high-priced hippy-dippy grocery store. It’s really not. When I started eating fish again, I found both their selection and prices to be excellent. In fact, every piece of fish I made came from there for this dinner that I made. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, try your local discount club. Places like BJs usually has a decent frozen fish selection.
Yes, my suggestion is to use frozen fish, for several reasons. Typically, it is cheaper, you can just defrost what you need and if plans change, it still stays in the freezer and you can eat it another day. Also, you know what you’re getting, and paying in advance. There is no last-minute trip to the grocery store where you end up in sticker price shock.
Keep It Simple
Fish, veggies and a starch. It’s that simple. If you want to add anything extra, feel free, but that’s really all you need. The night I made this, I happen to also put out all the other leftover salads and such from the rest of the weekend, but if you’re starting from scratch, those three things are really all you need.
Pick three types of seafood to offer a variety. In this case, I selected salmon, mahi mahi and scallops. For a vegetable I did sliced peppers and onions on skewers and made some long-grain brown rice.
In addition to the menu, keep the seasoning simple. In this case, I brushed extra virgin olive oil on all the veggies and fish and then sprinkled a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper over them. I cooked everything at the same time on the grill, and carefully watched to make sure nothing burned.
One suggestion, don’t skewer the scallops. I started out that way, and they started to fall off. It actually worked better on a flat grilling pan.