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8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Follow a Mediterranean Diet

Experts dish on how to eat a Mediterranean diet and not break the bank.

By Lambeth Hochwald

Medically Reviewed by Kelly Kennedy, RD

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Fresh, bold flavors can be surprisingly affordable with these smart shopping tips.
Fresh, bold flavors can be surprisingly affordable with these smart shopping tips.
Betsie Van Der Meer/Getty Images

Fans of the Mediterranean diet will tell you it’s a favorite because it focuses on big, bold-flavored foods, fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, spices, and heart-healthy fats. That means eating in-season produce, skipping the processed foods, amping up the whole grains, and opting for olive oil, nuts, and fish (the “good” fats) over butter, full-fat dairy, and red meat. Another win for the Mediterranean diet: a little bit of red wine is recommended (up to one glass per day for women and two for men).

Some of these core ingredients can be pricey. So we went to the experts and gathered eight tips to help you follow this heart-healthy diet without breaking the bank.

1. Make Canned Beans a Pantry Staple

“They’re cheap, they’re quick to cook — they can even be served without any preparation — and they’re packed with protein and fiber,” says Michael Psilakis, an executive chef, the owner of seven New York City restaurants, and the author ofLive to Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way. “Throw them in salads, blend them for a quick dip, or braise them with veggies for a weeknight chili or stew.”

2. Think More Veggies, Less Meat

“The Mediterranean diet was born from a peasant’s lifestyle where meat was a luxury,” Psilakis says. “Focus on filling up your plate with more vegetables and treat meat as a sometimes source of protein. Consider expanding the idea of ‘meatless Mondays’ to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and see how it affects your bottom line.” Indeed, a found that a vegetarian diet can save about 0 annually compared with an omnivorous diet.

3. Take Eggs Beyond Breakfast

“These delicious morsels of protein are affordable and plentiful,” Psilakis says. “A frittata with roasted cherry tomatoes, frozen spinach, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and a side salad is a healthy dinner idea and kind to the wallet, too.”

4. Hit the Farmers Market (Especially When It’s About to Close)

“Not only will you find the freshest produce, but you can often get items cheaper if you go later in the day,” says Lauren Manganiello, RD, a nutrition coach in New York. “Growers usually mark down the price because they’d rather sell the produce than pack it back up.”

5. Join a Local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

“CSAs provide weekly fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and are usually much less expensive than the grocery store,” Manganiello says. Plus, there’s the added benefit of knowing that you’ve supported a local farm and farmer.

6. Try This Budget-Friendly Puttanesca

“My go-to Mediterranean diet dinner on a budget is pasta puttanesca,” says Rachelle Mallik, RD, founder of the Food Therapist in Chicago. “I sauté tinned sardines and chopped kale in extra-virgin olive oil with canned tomatoes, pitted olives, capers, dried oregano, and red chile flakes — then toss it with cooked whole-wheat spaghetti. It’s a healthy meal that’s super cheap!”

7. Stock Up When You See Sales

“Whether it’s seafood, nuts, herbs, or berries, always seek out the sales,” says Krysten Dornik, a food blogger in Newport Beach, California. “You can freeze much of it for later so that you always have food on hand.” Some grocery stores even have a section of discounted produce that can save you lots of moola if you plan ahead.

“Freeze fresh herbs in ice cube trays with some chicken broth. Make your own chicken stock. Myyiayia(Greek for grandmother) always had a stockpot going, making chicken broth at all hours of the day. She would add leftover onion scraps, celery stalks, and cloves of garlic for flavor.”

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Date: 13.12.2018, 22:31 / Views: 64143