I love this recipe, for 3 simple reasons: it requires zero energy (mostly just opening cans!) and takes about 2 mins to make, it is unbelievably cheap to make and can be adapted to use whatever you have on hand, and it is a delicious dish that gets a healthy helping of oily fish in you and your kids.
We try to eat fish a few times a week in our house. One of these meals is usually white fish, and the others are oily fish or seafood. Omega-3s that we get mostly from oily fish (chia seeds, flaxseeds, organic eggs and walnuts are other good sources) are amazing for our health is so so many ways, I couldn’t list them all here. Omega-3 fats have been linked with everything from alleviating depression and anxiety, to improving brain health, reducing the risk of heart disease and even reducing ADHD symptoms in children.
I’ve always known fish, particularly oily fish, is good for us, but it took me a long time to realise you can make it affordable on a tight budget. I kind of figured it was something we couldn’t have often, but I have a few tips that I now work with that I hope will help you and your family consume more oily fish, too:
- Have a Google to see if there is a local fishmongers near you. We live by the sea, and are fortunate to have a lovely fishmongers in a town quite close to us, so every now and then we pop to this fish shop and stock up on a number of the cheaper fish that has been caught locally and so is much cheaper.
- Don’t be picky about the type of fish. If you only eat salmon, cod and prawns, then eating seafood is going to be expensive. But if you eat sardines, sprats, herring, anchovies, mussels, cockles, trout or pollock, you can keep your costs way down, which means you can eat more!
- Buy tinned and frozen often. Most of the white fish we eat is frozen, because it is so much cheaper. Most of the oily fish we eat is tinned, again, because it’s cheaper. But what is truly amazing is that I recently discovered that it is actually often healthier to consume fish in this way. Fish that has been sitting on a fishmonger’s counter is often older and so not as fresh and healthy as fish that was frozen at the peak of its freshness. And tinned fish is often smaller fish that has been steamed and so the tiny bones are soft and completely edible for both adults and children, which makes me feel much happier about it as a parent! Just make sure they are in brine, sugar free sauce or olive oil, not sugary tomato sauce or sunflower oil. My daughter and I came up with a tinned sardine pasta dish that she adores and makes with me regularly, and the ease of just tipping in the sardines without needing to pick out bones or check everything thoroughly is wonderful! Not to mention, tinned fish dishes tend to take all of 10 seconds to make!
What has perhaps surprised me the most when it comes to eating fish is my children’s ease with it. Since adults are often harder to feed fish to than meat, I kind of figured the same would be true of children. However, I have found (and many parents have agreed) that kids seem to get on more easily with fish than meat. My daughter loves lamb and sausages and is slowly coming around to other types of meat, but she still isn’t always sure about it. A dish packed with sardines, mackerel, or white fish, however, disappears in seconds. And I’m convinced my 1 and 1/2 year old son would eat an entire trout in one sitting if I let him.
I think we as parents are often un-adventurous with fish and seafood, and perhaps that is why so many adults do struggle with it, or with trying new types. But I have been pleasantly surprised by what my children will eat (my daughter enjoyed her first taste of octopus and my son adored the deep fried squid he was offered by a fishmonger in Italy!), and I hope you will be, too.
And if they do struggle with branching out, why not rustle up this tuna salad in 2 mins flat? Most children are pretty happy with tuna, and while you are slowly working on other oily fish, it can be a good place to start! Plus, it’s got 6 portions of vegetables!
An easy, dirt cheap dish made from mostly pantry ingredients that can be made in 2 mins and involves no cooking or skill in the kitchen other than can-opening! A perfect sunny midweek day's lunch or dinner.
- 2 tins drained mixed beans (make sure they are in water and not dressing or sauce which often have added sugars) or 2-3 tins different beans (I like black, canellini and kidney best), or better yet, use 500g of cooked dried beans
- 2 tins responsibly-sourced tuna
- 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 thinly sliced red onion
- 1 large handful pitted black olives
- 1 red, yellow or orange pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 pack fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp mustard (I used Dijon, but wholegrain or English would work, too)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (ideally raw and organic)
- 6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper, to taste
Mix all the salad ingredients together, then make the dressing by stirring ingredients into a lidded jar, covering and shaking until combined. Pour over the salad and serve cold.