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Fishing can be much more than a hobby. For families like mine, fishing for food is a way to survival. Here’s how I fishing to feed my family cheap (and why you should too!)
Fishing with my dad was one of my favorite things as a child. One or two times a month, he and I used to go to this creek-fed pond and toss our lines into the water. My childhood memories still remind me of the deep ditch we had to cross to get to the pond, the massive Weeping Willow tree that grew on the backside of the water and a snapping turtle I once caught that looked like it should live in the ocean.
I was very young, around 8 years old, when we last fished that pond, so sizes might have been distorted, but memories certainly weren’t. Now that I’m an adult, not only do I still enjoy fishing, but I also use it to help provide for my family in a way that won’t break the bank. Besides saving money on groceries, fishing can be a way to re-learn a skill you may have once had but lost (as was the case with me) and a way to spend time with loved ones without spending a lot of money.
Although I wish I could say we fished together for many years, in reality we stopped going around the time that I turned nine. Honestly, as I got older, I wouldn’t have been likely to go with him no matter what. Back in my teens, I wasn’t the type to go fishing so when Steve and I started fishing again a couple of years ago, it had been close to 28 years since I had picked up a fishing rod.
I needed to be able to re-learn the skill quickly since we were fishing for food. As it turned out, it didn’t take us as much time as we thought, and pretty soon we were both hooked up with nice catches to fill our freezers. A question was raised, however, about whether or not we were actually saving money by fishing for food ourselves or if we were just fooling ourselves. There was no doubt that the food we were pulling from the lake was healthier and tasted better than what we could buy at the store, but we wanted to know the cost.
So, I calculated our exact cost per meal and per person versus buying the meat in a store. The fact that we were indeed saving money and feeding our family fresh, nutritious fish at the same time became very clear very quickly. From my perspective, you simply cannot beat getting to save money and eat fresh food at the same time.
As you can see, we have a lot of success fishing together. Steve and I are each other’s best fishing buddies, and yes, I believe that makes a difference. It takes a team effort to catch those fish. We took this photo after just a single fishing trip to show our family’s catch. The fish include striped bass, white bass, and crappie that we brought home and filleted. Five or six of the 22 meals we were able to obtain through fishing were from this single trip.
For this comparison, I watched the sale ads at my local grocery stores for 3 weeks and used their average prices for catfish and tilapia during those weeks. The average price per pound was $4.99.
On average, each of the meals we vacuum-seal using the Foodsaver we use weighed approximately 3 lbs. In-store, these meals would have cost $15.00 per meal or $3.75 per person. Despite paying for bait and gas, our cost per meal was significantly lower.
The breakdown of our personal costs is as follows:
The total for the 10 day fishing trips was $152.86. Considering that we got 22 meals total (3 out of the bass I caught), our price per meal was $6.94 each. This comes out to just $1.74 per person! Instead of paying $3.75 per person by purchasing fish at the store, we are only paying $1.74 per person! That is right around a 45% savings!
If you are looking at the cost breakdown, you may wonder why the 9″ fillet knife says $0.00. We already had the 6″ fillet knife, but since we caught some larger fish, we needed a larger one. It was a free knife from Amazon because I had earned a free gift card for Amazon.
Fishing for food is one of those things that you really have to love if you want to do it well. Most of the time, you won’t be able to cast your line out and catch enough fish to feed your family all at once. Our luck has been in landing right on top of a great location to fish, and because of the way we fish the water, we catch where others don’t.
This can, however, be an extremely effective method of saving money on groceries if you have the patience and a love for fishing. Frugal living doesn’t have to make you miserable. I believe that whatever you love does you good and saves you money.
Do you eat your catches? Oh, and may your lines be tight and your friends be good.