Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Fish Sticks ($0.10 each)

 $0.10 each          56% savings          save $44.50 yearly

The following is a true (super embarrassing) story: 

Girl gets home late at night from a big volleyball tournament.

Girl is tired and hungry (typical teenager).

Girl opens the freezer, pulls out the Costco-sized bag of french fries and the huge box of fish sticks (extra crunchy), and knowing her stellar ability to put food away, fills the entire cookie sheet with the frozen sticks and fries, bakes them for the appropriate time, and eats the WHOLE PAN along with an exorbiant amount of ketchup.

Girl goes to bed happy and content and completely ignorant to the fact that she just ate a boat-load of junk and 3 times her daily requirement of fat.

Moral: I wanna be a teenager again!!!! 
Moral: Have your fish sticks, but DO IT RIGHT!

I know that many people can't stand fish sticks. I'm not one of them. I love those crunchy little bites of goodness! My kids do too. (Husband won't touch them.) The funny thing is that I cannot stand chicken nuggets. However, I've yet to try a homemade version of those, so stay tuned for that one in future...

I love that my kids love fish sticks, but I used to wage an internal war every time I served them. Despite my love for them, they don't make it to the table often. The problem is that though they are made with "fish" they are a far cry from healthy. It'd be like saying, "Fish fudge is made with fish, so it's gotta be good for ya." Alright, so no one will ever EVER say that, but you get the point.

A while ago, I decided to come up with a homemade fish stick recipe that would be 100% healthy, and involve ingredients that I always have on hand. Not even a little junk added. 

I bought a 4 pound bag of frozen fish from Walmart and went to work. My efforts totally paid off! These were a hit, and I felt GREAT serving them to my kids. They scarfed them down and asked for more. I made a ton and baked ALL of them and put the extra fish sticks in a bag in the freezer to be re-heated in the oven on a later date. Exactly like the ones you buy in the box at the store. These healthy steak fries would be delicious served with them.


You bet!

Homemade Fish Sticks

*Makes about 36 fish sticks

1  lb white fish fillets
1  C flour (I used whole wheat)
3  eggs, beaten
1  C dry bread crumbs (I used homemade dry bread crumbs)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon paprika
1  Tablespoon lemon juice

Cut the fish fillets into fish-stick sized strips. I've found it's best to do this when the fish is still partially frozen. Trust me. It'll make for much smoother cutting.

Coat a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Place the flour in a bowl.

Place the beaten eggs and lemon juice in another bowl.

Place the dry bread crumbs, salt, and paprika into a third bowl. 

Dip each fish strip into the 1.) flour, followed by the 2.) beaten eggs, and finally the 3.) dry bread crumbs.

Place the fish sticks onto the baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, turning half-way through for even cooking. Let stand 2-3 minutes. Serve warm. 

Allow any extra fish to cool to room temperature. Place in a ziplock bag, freeze, and re-heat in the oven at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes. 

~ Savings ~

Cost Breakdown:
4 lb pkg. swaii fillets - $10.98 = $2.745/lb. = $2.745
25 lb all-purpose flour - $6.78 = 94.5 cups = $0.071/cup = $0.071
1 dozen eggs - $1.79 = $0.150/egg = 0.450
Dry bread crumbs - $0.133/cup = $0.133
26 oz. salt - $0.42 = 122.75 tsp. = $0.003/tsp = $0.0015
2.12 oz. paprika - $2.08 = 26 tsp. = $0.080/tsp = $0.040
32 oz. lemon juice - $1.68 = 62 T = $0.027/T = $0.027
Total Recipe Cost: $3.47
Per Fish Stick (makes 36): $0.10
The Contender:
Gorton's Crunchy Fish Sticks (18 count): $3.96
Per Fish Stick: $0.22
Savings: 56%

"Over a year" scenario:
Make Crispy Oven Fish Sticks recipe 10 times = $34.70
Buy equivalent (20 boxes) Gorton's Crunchy Fish Sticks = $79.20
*Money Saved: $44.50 


  1. This is a great idea! Just a side note I am a manager of a fish market in Texas . Swai ( basa-nova ) or striped pengasius is raised in the sewage canals of china . There is no wild swai and although it is a great price and mild it may not be the healthiest option for white fish . Cod is always found wild and is rich in all the good stuff we eat fish for. Also re-freezing fish can drastically lower the quality and is dangerous to put the fish through temperature abuse where it can grow bacteria during warmer states . You seem very intuned to a healthier lifestyle so I hope this helps. Walmart is a listed retailers that buys most of there fish from unregulated countries like china.

    1. Thank you for stopping by the site, and taking the time to share! Over the last half hour or so, I've been reading up on this. I had no idea where the swaii from Walmart came from... apparently Vietnam according to the packaging. I felt confident that since it was filleted, vacuum packed, and frozen "fresh," that it would be a safe bet as a healthy fish. I've made this recipe with swaii, cod, and tilapia and have enjoyed all three versions, so if I were to kick swaii off the list, there probably wouldn't be any tear shed. I chose it because it was the cheapest, and worked well with this recipe... but you are correct in assuming that I am a health-conscious person, and so I'll be reviewing this fish some more.

      When I make these, I freeze the fish sticks not needed for our meal as soon as I can after they finish cooking. I assume it's much like the boxed store-bought ones that are cooked, then frozen and boxed, then re-heated in the consumer's home.

      Truth be told, I cook and freeze a lot of food for later use, knowing that the sacrifice of perfectly fresh quality will be unavoidable: (soups, taco meat, crumbled ground beef, shredded chicken, etc.) This proves to be an efficient cooking method for me, which is important. I have a family, a tight budget, and plenty of obligations that would make cooking fresh every single day difficult and more time-consuming than I can handle. Cooking every single meal and snack fresh would be a dream come true... but for now, it'll just have to stay a dream. Balance is key for me. *Whew* Long-winded reply coming to an end...

      Thank you again for taking time to comment on my post! Your information and insights are very much appreciated. Swaii might just be kicked off the menu-plan. :)

  2. Homemade chicken nuggets are amazing! I started making the Eat Clean version a couple of years ago and even my junk food junkie fiance won't touch the processed version anymore. It's basically the same process as your fish sticks only with chunks of chicken breast (obviously) and finely ground almonds & wheat germ. You could probably just use bread crumbs too but the almonds add a great flavor and a little crunch. Try them! =)

    1. I've been meaning to try chicken nuggets... just haven't gotten around to it yet. Yours sound amazing!

  3. Living in SE Louisiana I have alot of wild catfish in my freezer. Going to give this a try. Will let you know how it works out.

  4. Yum! I am so making these. I grew up eating fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. My husband doesn't like frozen (boxed) fish sticks but we love talapia baked in his favorite fish fry mixture so I'm betting he will also love these. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Genius town population u

  6. Do you think Mahi Mahi would be a good fish to use for the fish sticks? I just bought some today and want to try this. Btw, I'm Loving your blog!!

  7. Do you think Mahi Mahi would be a good fish to use for the fish sticks? I just bought some today and am very interested in making this recipe. Btw, I'm Loving your blog!!

    1. Thanks! And, yes! Mahi Mahi would work. Really any white fish would be fine. :) If your fish was frozen, remember to cut the fish when they are only partially thawed. It's much easier to cut them into even sticks that way.

  8. I will have to try this! I used to love fish sticks as a kid, but when I tried them again the other day...I couldn't believe I had ever swallowed one of those. It was gross. So making my own with real fish sounds like a very good idea. Thanks for sharing! Pinned!

    1. Cool beans! I hope they work out for you. I think they taste infinitely better than the kind in the frozen food section. ;)


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