Lazy Budget Chef: 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

BJ's Wholesale Club Gift Card Giveaway!

A few years ago Husband wanted to build a gingerbread house. Neither of us had cookie construction experience. We bought a kit. The results were a little lack luster because I made the icing too runny. The best part of our first gingerbread house was the candy solar panels.

BJ’s Wholesale Club asked me if I wanted to redeem myself in the gingerbread house department.  They said their kit might yield better results because of the premixed icing and slotted tray that came with the kit.

The slotted stand and pre mixed icing made all the difference!

You know what, they were right! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Four Cheap Wines that Don’t Taste Cheap

When I started buying our staple food at Aldi, the quality and type of food we ate increased and our food bill decreased.  For the first time in my life, I could buy frozen wild caught salmon fillets at Aldi for the same price as (and sometimes less) frozen pollack fillets at Meijer.

Whole wheat pasta, dried fruit and nuts, organic GMO free soy milk, organic blue corn chips, and Havarti cheese with dill are also part of our regular diet thanks to Aldi’s low prices.

In all of the years I shopped Aldi, there’s only one thing I bought that I didn’t like - Aldi’s Winking Owl Merlot. It wasn’t too bad for a $2.69 bottle of wine and at that price, I shouldn’t expect a whole lot. However, the experience made me unfairly write off buying wine at Aldi ever again.

That was a mistake.

 Aldi wine wins budget wine awards for taste. Who knew?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sam's Club Simple Savings Twitter Party

On Wednesday, December 7, from 7-8 p.m. Central Time Sam’s Club and; Anne-Marie of This Mama Cooks(@amnichols) are hosting a #SimpleSavings Twitter Party on the topic of healthy eating during the holiday season. I can use this because I went to a pot luck Christmas party last week and any notion of eating healthy went right out the window as soon as my friend Patti put a cake on the buffet table.
Visit Condo Blues to learn how to make my recycled magazine gift bows
To join the party by tweeting to @SamsClub with the hashtag #SimpleSavings between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. CT (8 – 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) to get tips and share your favorite healthy holiday meals.

Five #SimpleSavings tweeters will be randomly selected to win a holiday survival gift basket with on-the-go health items such as Excedrin, Emergen-C, Tums and more. I can use this too because I have the taste buds of an eight old kid and the finicky digestive system of a little old lady. *sigh*

While you're at it, be sure to follow me on Twitter too @condoblues!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade Tortillas Where Have You Been All My Life?!

Husband and I flew to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with his sister and her family.  As part of her “you should move to Texas” campaign (which started shortly after my sister in law’s move to Texas, she decided to fight dirty.

They took us out to dinner.

Because they know we are foodies.

We went to a little place called Papa Jose's. It's in their arts district because my sister in law knows we love the arty side of things as well as food.

I couldn’t make up my mind because everything sounded so good. I split the difference and went with a combo plate.

 There was so much food here that Husband and I could have easily split this meal and still be stuffed. Not that I would because it (and the leftover I took home) were MINE! ALL MINE! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 Tasty Turkey Leftover Recipes

My favorite part of every holiday meal is the leftover turkey! That extra marinade time in the refrigerator makes cooking with turkey leftovers the following day extra tasty. Sure, you can make traditional leftover turkey sandwiches, but why not try stretching your taste buds and dinner dollars with these leftover turkey recipes?

1. Crockpot Turkey Stock  Homemade turkey and chicken stock tastes so much better than any broth that comes out of a carton.


2. Southwestern Turkey Soup Recipe Kick those leftovers in a spicy direction with this is Southern soup. 

  Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sam’s Club Black Friday Deals!

‘Tis the season to start shopping. Or at least start thinking about holiday shopping. I got the skinny on Sam’s Club Black Friday deals and want to pass it along.

If you have a Sam’s Club membership, it may be worth your while to get up early on Black Friday. Sam’s Club is serving a complimentary breakfast of  hot egg sandwiches, fresh fruit, yogurt and coffee from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Friday, November 25.

You will get a $20 gift card if you sign up for Sam’s Club or upgrade to Plus Membership throughout the shopping weekend.

Sam’s Club deals include:

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Ate My Way Around the Circleville Pumpkin Show

It seems that every small town in Ohio holds a yearly festival to celebrate something. We have the Milan Melon Festival, the Fish Festival, among others. One of the biggest and most popular festivals is the Circleville Pumpkin Show. The Circleville Pumpkin Festival is one of the largest pumpkin festivals in the country.

These people really love their pumpkin. 

Curious people that we are, as well as lovers of all food pumpkin, Husband and I spent a day at the Circleville Pumpkin Show to see what the hoo ha is about and hopefully full our tummies with pumpkiny treats.

The festival takes up almost every block in tiny downtown Circleville. The big draw is the display of giant pumpkins entered in the pumpkin growing contest that has more categories than I knew there were types of gourds and pumpkins.

Believe it or not, these are the small giant pumpkins!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cookpot Pumpkin Butter

As a kid, I remember my mother making a pie out of our painted Halloween pumpkin. I thought it was novel because up until that point the only pumpkin I had in pie came from a can.

 Husband wanted to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I decided to paint my pumpkin and try my hand at cooking it later.

Pumpkin Butter pulled from the freezer

I turned that Halloween pumpkin into pumpkin butter!

The results were delicious.

Being a lazy chef, I make pumpkin butter in the crock pot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Extreme Couponing and Stockpiling: What it is and What it Isn’t

On a good day, I use coupons to save 40% or more on my grocery bill. I  buy fresh ingredient type foods, green products, and cook from scratch. I wrote about How to Extreme Coupon for Healthy Food on my green living and DIY blog Condo Blues.

An "extreme" Meijer shopping trip. The regular price is $65.60. I spent $38.08. I saved 42% on my total.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicken with Spinach and Garlic Almonds

When it comes to making a quick, healthy, and cheap dinner, you can’t beat a stir fry. This Chicken Spinach and Garlic Almond dinner took less than 30 minutes to make – which is faster, more nutritious, and to us tastes better than Hamburger Helper. 

The even better part of this meal is I was able to stretch the two lone chicken breasts in my freezer to feed four people. Oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Pumpkin!

Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days. Spending time outside in the sun. BBQs. Picnics. Ice cold lemonade and fresh fruit ripe for the picking.

While others celebrate fall I grab every last bit of summer I can with both hands. To me, fall signals the soon to come cold, overcast, and depressing days of winter.

With one exception.

Seasonal pumpkin beer makes me look forward to fall.

Have you tried pumpkin beer? What did you think?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Freschetta Pizza and Ear Bud Giveaway

My first Lazy Budget Chef giveaway was so fun, I decided to do it again! Would you like a little music to go with your food? Today’s giveaway is the Freschetta pizza or Artisan Pizza crust of your choice and TWO sets of Proud to Support Pink ear buds. If you are prone to losing ear buds (ahem…) this one’s for you because you’ll have a spare pair. If you are more careful with your ear buds than I am, you can always give the extra set to a friend – the holidays are coming!

Win Us!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Start Natural Energy Drink and Defense Tea Review

When I want a caffeinated slap in the head to wake me up I reach for coffee or tea. Super sugar and caffeine laden energy drinks taste like liquid pixie stix to me – ew!

So how did I end up reviewing a energy drink?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Cider Carmel Cookies

I pinned The Cooking Photographer’s Carmel Stuffed AppleCider cookie recipe to my Pinterest recipe board because it looks amazing. Like most things I pin on Pinterest for inspiration, I didn’t think I’d make them. I just like to look at them.

I made an exception for these little caramel stuffed gems.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to Freeze Fresh Berries

I dance with delight at the availability, sales, and price of fresh berries during the summer. Now that I am getting the sale 411 on the We Use Coupons forums by grocery store, I find that I am able to buy fresh berries when they go on sale. Before this whole extreme (ly nornmal) couponing and sale watching started I thought buying fresh berries was a luxury - not anymore!

However it sure would be nice to save some of those summer sale berries for later in the year. I wondered if I could freeze fresh berries without them turning into a large brick of ice when frozen or container of smoosh when defrosted.

It turns out, you can!

The lovely folks at Naturipe sent me a very generous sample of raspberries to use for developing recipes. After working and reworking my Very Raspberry Scone recipe several times, I had something I was happy with and made them for Husband’s birthday.

That made Husband very happy.

I wanted to try making raspberry infused vodka with the rest of the Naturipe raspberries. The raspberries waited in the refrigerator until….

Monday, October 3, 2011

Farm Rich Snack Giveaway!

I keep a package of frozen meatball in the back of the freezer at all times. Farm Rich turkey meatballs  are one of my life’s little emergency kits when I have to prepare a quick meal. More often than not it's the thing that makes a low effort meal on lazy weekends and saves us from the temptation of ordering a pizza or going out to dinner.

I bake them in the oven, add them to a quick homemade tomato sauce and Boom! Instant spaghetti and meatballs. I use Farm Rich meatballs to make Swedish Meatballs my Husband says taste just like the meatballs Ikea serves in their restaurant.

Farm Rich asked me if I wanted to try their new cheese Farm Rich Stuffed Pretzel Bites.  Farm Rich Stuffed Pretzel Bites are high fructose corn syrup and trans fat free. Since Husband loves all things pretzel I went for it and said yes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Canning Strawberry Peach Jam

I found a great strawberry sale earlier this summer. I bought a bunch of strawberries with the intention of making and canning strawberry jam since my first canning experiment of spiced blueberry jam went so well.

The berries sat in the refrigerator for a while and started to go soft. I froze four containers of strawberries until I could find the time.

 My second attempt at canning jam. Woohoo!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Ate My Way around the Columbus Oktoberfest

Husband and I spent last weekend in Germany.

Actually, it was sorta Germany.  Husband and I spent an afternoon at the Columbus Oktoberfest eating lots and lots of fried food.

From Germany.

Well, from local German themed restaurants. That explains the fried curly potato turned nacho thing they called German nachos. 

Hang on to your cholesterol meds we’re going in!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Artisan Lettuce and Flower Salad with Tatzaki Sauce

Keep reading! I'll teach how to make this salad
I’m a fan of a mixed greens salad. I like the idea of buying a bag o' salad mix because I buy more than one type of lettuce for my salad in a more affordable manner, but  the quality of the greens are often more hit than miss.  Bag o' salad mix tend to wilt and spoil quickly.

My friends at The Balancing Act asked me if I wanted to try working with Tanimura & Antle Artisan Lettuce. As a lover of real food and fresh vegetables, I was leaning toward a yes but with caution given my bag o’ lettuce woes.
Then The Balancing Act told me that they are pairing with  Tanimura &Antle to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables to the school lunch rooms by working with the United Fresh Foundation's Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, and CPMA’s Freggie’s Children’s programs and the School Nutrition Association (SNA)  I fully support initiatives that move kids away from the type of food I grew up with – dinner from a box and vegetables from a can – bleach! I wasn't sure what to expect from Tanimura & Antle, but if it gets one kid to realize fresh vegetables won't kill them, then I'll do it for the kiddos. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Five Dollar Real Food Dinners

This Saturday is Slow Food USA’s Slow Food $5 Challenge.  What does that mean?

Slow Food USA encourages people to eat and prepare food that is good, clean, and fair. To skip the prepared meal in a box stuff and focus on cooking real vegetables and proteins. Slow Food is issuing a challenge to make a real food for $5.00 because so many people think it is easier and cheaper to eat off a fast food dollar menu than it is to make a dinner with whole food ingredients at home. 

That falls in line what I do here at Lazy Budget Chef.

I had many digestive issues and took a bunch of prescriptions to make sure everything did what it was supposed to do without giving me horrible and constant cases of heartburn.

In an attempt to reduce our budget to afford all of those medicines plus the expenses newlyweds tend to have when starting their careers, Husband and I experimented with cooking dried beans since they are a good source of protein. Moreover, did I mention, cheap?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Do You Take Vitamins?

As a kid, my mom struggled to get me to eat breakfast because as they say, it is the most important meal of the day.

Greasy breakfast sandwiches and breakfast drinks do a number of my stomach and uh, digestive track (to be polite.) I was always more interested in the prize in the box than downing a bowl of soggy cereal in the morning.

Mom quickly introduced me to multivitamins a at my pediatrician’s suggestion. I had issues of being tired all the time due to a lack of a complete breakfast food. My new set of PALS made a difference in how I felt.

I don’t remember this commercial. I vaguely remember the song they sing though.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Very Raspberry Scones

When Husband lived in New York, his favorite breakfast was a cup of coffee and a scone. He doesn’t eat scones often at home. He always orders them when we visit The City.

For Husband’s birthday, I thought it would be nice to make him scones instead of a birthday cake. Don’t get me wrong, we like a slice of cake on our birthdays. What we do not like is the temptation to dive head first into the rest of the birthday cake after the birthday is done.

Not that I would know anything about that.

I want to do something special with Husband’s birthday scones. Think. Think. Think.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My New (to Me) Canning Equipment!

I got over my fear of canning and canned spiced blueberry jam. Now that I know canning jam doesn't take all day or bushels of fruit I want to do more of it. I looked into buying some of the equipment many of you agreed I didn't absolutely need to can food but will make the job easier and is nice to have.

After not winning it at the drawing at The Easton Farmers Market (waaah!) I bought the Ball Home Canning Discovery kit because I wanted something to keep the full jars of jam from flopping around in my stockpot while they cooked/processed/did the thing that makes sure you don't kill people with botulism. It's 10 bucks, comes with three jars (I need those too), and the silicone basket thingy squishes into a drawer when you aren't using it. How perfect for me and my small kitchen!

Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit

After I bought it, I mentioned my purchase and recent canning escapades to my mom. She asked me if I could return the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit. I told I could but didn't want to because I didn't know where she was going with the conversation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tequila Sunrise Popsicles

I’m dying to try something a bit more grown up when it comes to making Popsicles – infused with booze.

You want to try one, don't you?
I read that the Fountainbleu Miami Beach serves vodka popsicles at their poolside bar. Have you ever been to the Flountainbleu? If I close my eyes, I can still see their dreamy pools cape with a waterfall that looks over Miami beach and the ocean…………aaaahh!
I’d love to have my own taste of Miami beach in landlocked Ohio.

I don’t have vodka.

I’m too lazy to run to the store to buy some.

I rooted around in the pantry and pulled out a bottle of Jose Cuervo Especial The Balancing Act sent for me to develop recipes. Well, mixed drinks use recipes, don't they?

Actually Husband and I are using the Jose Cuervo for cooking. We have to make a few tweaks to the recipe before it's ready to post. However, the whole desire for Popsicles and arrival of Jose Cuervo Especial was fate. The Balancing Act sent it right after I came home from an out of state family emergency. How's that for timing? Thanks gals!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Asparagus and Tomato Saute Recipe

I did something a naughty.

I made a meal with food that Husband does not like.

Husband had to work late and was not going to be home for dinner. It’s the perfect time to make the asparagus he bought because he knows I like it.

Pin this post for later!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chicken! Chicken! Win a Year’s Worth of Chicken!

Hands up! Who likes chicken?

Yep. Me too.

Second question. 

Who likes free chicken?


It's amazing we have so much in common, eh?

Perdue is holding an America’s Best Chicken Dishes Facebook contest. One grand-prize winner will receive free Perdue chicken for a year, and each week throughout the contest, one random winner will be selected to receive free Perdue chicken.

To enter the contest:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Summer is strawberry season! I thought that strawberries were a too spendy treat. However, now that I’m getting coupon and sale cycle information on We Use Coupons I find that I can afford strawberries much more often. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are a budget chef’s best friend.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Easton Farmers Market

Last week I visited the Easton Farmers Market. Yep, it is a weekly farmer’s market at a mall.  Oh, excuse me; Easton Towne Center is an entertainment and shopping experience.

In other words a fancy, schmancy mall.

How so?

There’s a free storage area called the Veggie Valet where they keep your produce purchases from the farmer's market cold while you shop the other stores at the mall.

Still fun though.

Yummy food too. Lookit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Easy Pretzel Hot Dog Recipe

Whenever I serve hot dogs at a party I always run out of hot dog buns. Why is the hot dog to bun package ratio never the same?

Last weekend I headed off a potential hot dog bun shortage by making soft pretzel dogs. No buns required.

I normally don’t go for meals in a box but in this case it’s my party and I don’t want to spend all if it in the kitchen if I have to. I skipped making bread maker soft pretzel dough and used an Auntie Anne's At Home Baking Kit (affiliate link) The Balancing Act asked me to try out as a member of The Balancing Act Blogger Community.

Since I've already made regular soft pretzels, I decided to make something slightly different with the pretzel kit. I used it to make the dough for the soft pretzel dogs instead.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Easy Ebleskiver (Ebelskiver, Aebleskiver)

One of my favorite memories of my Danish Great Grandmother is eating dinner at her house. As a kid, I was surprised that she had what looked like doughnut holes on the dinner table. I was delighted that she encouraged me to eat as many as I wanted when my mother tried to put the breaks on my third plus helping.

I later learned that those little powdered sugar delights were not doughnut holes but ebelskiver, pronounced able-skeev-er and spelled three different ways in English – ebleskiver, ebleskiver, aebleskiver.

Danish aebleskiver is a Danish pancake that traditionally has a slice of apple baked in the center. However, being the inventors of smorgasbord (you’re welcome by the way) there are many Danish ebleskiver variations.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Canned Jam and Nobody Died

Did I mention I am afraid of canning?  Well, I am.

Canzillas convinced me that I would kill everyone with botulism if I can use my deep stockpot to can jam unlike the other cooks I know and trust who have successfully canned without a lot of fancy specialty canning doodads, besides new lids of course.

Last summer's freezer jam
It’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s that I don’t have a lot of room to store it in my small kitchen. Although I was tempted to take Cooking With Caitlin up on her offer when she joked that we could have bake sale to buy me canning equipment. I love those girls to bits and will make any excuse to hang out with them.

I had several packages of Natureripe blueberries leftover from making blueberry yogurt Popsicles I wanted to use before they turned to mush. I know! I’ll make blueberry freezer jam!

Until I checked and found that I didn’t have room for it in the freezer.

Time to face my fear and can blueberry jam instead.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Could You Use a Military Makeover?

One of my extra blogging gigs is writing for the Lifetime TV show The Balancing Act. The producers of The Balancing Act’s sister show Designing Spaces is doing home makeovers for military family as a thank you for all of their hard work and sacrifice with their new project called Project Makeover.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles

Homemade Popsicles are all the rage in food circles this year. They blow those plastic tubes of neon colored sugar water Popsicles I grew up with out of the water!

I officially declare 2011 The Summer of the Popsicle. It's a nice follow up to 2010 The Summer of the S'more.

My family discovered frozen fruit bars last summer. I felt better about serving a snack that is fruit and juice. It became spendy because a box never lasted more than a few days after I brought it home from the store.

Lo and behold, the winter holidays dropped a family gift of a set of  BPA free plastic Popsicle molds down our chimney. Thanks, Santa me!

PhotobucketLast week Mother Nature turned off the cold and turned up the heat to full blast. Ahhhh, a nice homemade frozen fruit bar would be refreshing in this weather.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Green Extreme Couponing – Update

What I do is more like Green Normal Couponing because I don’t clear store shelves of mustard or want to create the world’s biggest stockpile. I don’t buy a newspaper, let alone 6, or swipe coupon inserts from foreclosed homes or dumpsters. I stick to the coupons I get in the Tuesday mailer and the 2 coupon limit I can print from my computer from the major coupon or manufacturer sites. That’s it.

I don’t spend hours searching the Internet for deals either. I check We Use Coupons maybe once a week when I’m doing my regular Web surfing.  The We Use Coupons forums have deals organized by store name and a section for organic and natural products. They post the coupon and sale match ups every week. Often they post unadvertised sales and price drops that I would normally miss. Thanks coupon people!

So how am I doing?

This is an example of my coupon purchases for the month of  April 2011.
Neither of these photos is of a weekly shopping trip. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Ate My Way Around the Asian Festival

You don’t expect Columbus to be such a multicultural city since we are smack dab in the middle of Farm Country. However, we have a very large international population because of Ohio State University and the nearby Honda assembly plant. Our Asian grocery stores are just as a good or better than the Asian grocery stores I visit in Chinatown in New York City.

All of that becomes to one big wonderful weekend of food, culture, and performances at the Columbus Asian Festival.

I eat a lot of Asian style food. I was heavily influenced by a trip to Japan and Hong Kong and started learning and experimenting as soon as I got home. It’s healthy (depending upon the ingredients of course), fairly inexpensive because it’s generally a little of this and a little of that as opposed to the American meal of big hunk of meat, big pile of starch and maybe some vegetables. I also like that most Asian food is quick. I likes me a quick meal.

I always appreciate the cultural exhibits. Blitzkrieg liked the Japanese tea house in the children’s area the best.

Photo courtesy of my other blog Condo Blues

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May is Egg Month! Who Knew?

I open my in box and find emails informing me of all sorts of holidays I never knew existed. National Ice Cream Day? Yep we have one. National Kidney Month? That too. We even celebrate breakfast in the merry merry month of May with National Egg Month!

I’m not exactly sure how you’re supposed to celebrate National Egg Month. A month of souffles?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shopping Loyalty Club Card Organizer

I have a ton of frequent buyer cards. Some I use often, others not so much. I thought I was being a clever, clever girl when I put, my AAA card, medical card and all of those shopping cards in a separate zippered holder in my purse when I ran out of room to hold money in my wallet.

That worked for a bit.

It still takes me a good couple of minutes to shuffle through the cards to find the one I need. The ones I use the most like my medical and library cards hide in the mess. I'm embarrassed when I shuffle over them and hold up the checkout line.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lunch It Punch It

When I’m trying to eat healthy on the cheap or just eat lunch on the cheap, packing a lunch is the way to go. I’m good for a while but the siren call of easy eating lunch out usually takes over and foils my plans.

My blogging buddy Andi and her co-workers came up with a great idea to help them stick to their goal of packing healthy lunches while still treating themselves to a lunch out from time to time. It’s called Lunch It Punch It

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Coconut and Banana Smoothie

I am taking the Silk vs. Milk Challenge in which I replace my regular moo juice with Silk Soy, Coconut, or Almond Milk products. I’m feeling much better now that I’m off the moo so I guess my doctor was spot on about me being lactose intolerant.

I tried Silk Almond Milk in my Silk vs Milk Challenge - Day 1 post. I broke open a carton of Silk Coconut Milk and decided to make a smoothie with it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Caribbean Cuisine Recipe Challenge

I often joke that Husband and I travel to a foreign country every night via our dinner table. We eat a different ethnicity every night because we take advantage of the grocery shopping bargains at the many mom and pop ethnic grocery stores Columbus.

Most of the time we just wing it and make up our recipes. Do you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rosemary Garlic Salmon Recipe

I love salmon. Love. It.

Salmon is considered one of nature’s superfoods because it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and other important nutrients.  However, I used to get my Omega 3's from other more affordable types of fish because fresh salmon was beyond my budget.