Once you go fancy, you can never go back.
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Zoe Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Let me preface this story of unexpected love by saying that I am not a person who likes to spend a lot of money on food (or really, anything, for that matter). I’m lucky enough to have a job that affords me quite the plethora of free food, so I don’t find myself in the grocery store aisles too often. However, when I do, I am definitely that person who has to meticulously compare all the price labels and calculate which product is the best deal. That’s probably why a majority of the food that I do purchase with my hard-earned money is store brand. I am not ashamed—if it’s in the name of a couple extra cents that I get to keep, then it sounds like a win for me.

That being said, canned tuna is one of those things that I always like to keep in my pantry, not because I eat it a lot, but because every now and again, I’ll have a craving for it. Random urges aside, canned fish is great to have on the back burner for when you’re in a pinch and need something cheap, simple, and packed with protein. However, because I am absolutely maniacal about how much money I am spending at the supermarket, you bet your bottom dollar that the canned tuna I normally buy is in water (...olive oil versions are more expensive...), and it is of course, store brand. Little did I know what my frugal life choices were holding me back from.

I must admit that I stumbled upon this blessing of jarred tuna fortuitously. At the Time Inc. Food Studios (where I work), there is a “giveaway” shelf in the fridge where unwanted or maybe/sorta/slightly/kinda-on-the-brink-of-spoiling food is placed for people to use at their own leisure. Because I am the way that I am, you can imagine just how much time I spend hovering over this shelf, waiting for something enticing to hit so that I can swiftly swoop it up.* Just the other day, an unopened jar of Zoe Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil found its way there (it wasn’t expired, so I have no idea why this happened), so I figured I’d put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day. In other words, I took it home and immediately tore open the lid to give it a try.

When I say that my attitude towards buying jarred tuna has been forever changed, I’m not dramatizing the severity of the realization that occurred in my brain upon my first bite of this stuff. The Spanish olive oil that it’s marinating in is maybe one of the finest ingredients that I have ever ingested, and the tuna, which is line-caught in the Bay of Biscay off the northern coast of France (how freaking fancy does that sound?!) is delightfully pink and richer in flavor than any canned fish I’ve ever had. These are the products that I miss out on when I’m sporting my cheap foods tunnel vision goggles.

When I found the product on Amazon retailing for $13, I was pretty shocked. I mean, that’s not completely absurd, but every other form of packaged tuna I’ve ever consumed is about $2, give or take. That’s a pretty big difference. Despite the fact that I was fortunate enough to score this particular jar of tuna at no cost (have I mentioned that I LOVE free things?), I can honestly say that the tuna-eating experience was so enjoyable that my frugal-self might be able to justify forking over my precious American dollars for another jar. You’re just going to have to take my word that coming from me, that is saying a lot.

*My reputation at work could, as you might imagine, be better.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane