12 Tips to Save - Mediterranean Diet on a Budget

Dec 5, 2023

Research has shown that following a Mediterranean diet not only improves your health but also saves you money.

The key to saving money is knowing what a real Mediterranean diet is and not falling in the trap of the so-called Mediterranean diet menus that are often presented online and in books ...

That are full of expensive fish, ready to eat processed foods and recipes with numerous ingredients.

The calculations and the average Mediterranean-Greek meal costs about 2-3$ per person.

The Mediterranean Diet was based on the diet people were following in the Mediterranean in the 60’s. These people were not wealthy.

Let’s think about that for a moment: they did not drink expensive wine or feast on expensive non-local fish such as salmon. They did not spend 50$ on wine (or 5$ for that matter), and they ate artichokes only when they were in season.

You can follow the Mediterranean Diet and save money too.

Here are 12 Tips to Save Money While Following the Mediterranean Diet

1. Know what a real Mediterranean diet is

Based on the many articles and books on the Mediterranean diet you would think that a Mediterranean diet includes some sort of meat or fish every day, specific fruit and vegetables, exotic grains.

This is not the case at all.

The Mediterranean diet is pretty straightforward and simple:

  • A typical week of dinners would be once a week chicken, 

  • Once a week pasta 

  • 3 times a week a vegetable casserole, 

  • Twice a week beans and once a week meat or fish.

So, don’t fall for those fancy menu plans follow an authentic Mediterranean diet.

2. Choose local and seasonal fruits and vegetables

Yes, this common knowledge, but I feel it is important to stress this even more with the Mediterranean diet.

No, you don’t have to get “$3-a-piece artichokes”...

You buy whatever is in season and local or grown closest to you. 

It is cheaper and it tastes better. 

Avoid the mentality of thinking that you have to buy “Mediterranean” fruit and vegetables.

3. Use dry beans

Here in Greece there are hardly any canned beans available (except some imported brands).

They use dry beans, which are very cheap.

Some do not need overnight soaking (black-eyed peas and lentils) and the boiling process is very simple.

4. Avoid ready-to-eat foods.

It is very frustrating to see snacks, ready to consume salad dressings, rice mixes all being promoted as healthy.

Not only are they not, they are also pricey, and they save you only a bit of time.

5. Buy frozen vegetables

If you are having a hard time getting fresh vegetables, use frozen. 

Nobody is expecting you to go the farmer’s market everyday or grow your own vegetables (if you can that’s great, but if not no worries). 

I always have on hand bags of peas, green beans and okra and use them to make the vegetable casseroles. 

To save time I also freeze herbs such as parsley and dill and I chop onions and also freeze them, so they are ready when I need them.

6. Freeze leftovers

It is a common tip, but so useful. 

The majority of Greek dishes can freeze very well including vegetable casseroles and savory pies (e.g. spanakopita).

So separate them in servings and freeze them.

7. Eggs are a fine dinner

As I have mentioned, in the Mediterranean, eggs are not typically consumed as breakfast but more so for dinner. 

A nice omelet along with a salad makes a good and balanced meal.

8. Make your own dressing

If you are following a Mediterranean diet, chances are you have bought some good extra virgin olive oil.

The basic dressing you will need is just olive oil and vinegar.

Use your own and don’t spend your money on bottled salad dressings, not only will it cost you more, it will not provide you any benefits either.

First you don’t know that type of olive oil is being used (for the most benefits you want extra virgin).

Secondly and most importantly, the olive oil compounds which have antioxidant properties are very sensitive to water...

So those bottled salad dressings that may contain extra virgin olive oil will have very little -if any- of these protective substances.

9. Don’t buy anything promoted as “Mediterranean”.

Anything packaged would not exist in the Mediterranean diet anyway.

Just because some crackers, rice mix, pasta, chicken, pizza, chips etc. has oregano, garlic or feta in it, doesn’t mean it is “Mediterranean”. 

You already have oregano, garlic and feta in your kitchen - just add them yourself.

10. Use whole chicken cuts instead of skinless boneless chicken breast.

The popular chicken breast is quite expensive and honestly has very little taste.

The whole chicken or even chicken legs are cheaper and tastier. 

Remove the skin before eating and you are set.

11. Embrace canned fish

Typically, when looking for Mediterranean diet menus you will always find a salmon recipe.

Salmon is somewhat pricey and is not a Mediterranean fish, but if you can afford it is fine to eat it, just know that it is not necessary.

You can also get your fish intake by consuming canned fish such as sardines or anchovies which are actually the typical fish consumed within the Mediterranean diet.

12. Easy on the nuts

Yes, nuts are a part of the Mediterranean diet, but don’t overdo it, they can get expensive. Traditionally Greeks would have walnut and almond trees at home and would have them seasonally.

They typically used them in sweets and also saved them for guests as they were considered precious.

They did not eat them every day. 

You are fine consuming them 3 times a week.

Bottom Line

The Mediterranean Diet is grounded on the principles of enjoyment and pleasure. Foods, drinks and meals are best eaten with others, when possible, and savored.

You don't need be influence to buy fancy and expensive food and ingredients. 

Just stick to the basics on how the people in the 60's in the Mediterranean region eat.

And you'll guaranteed to save money.

How to get started?

If you like the Mediterranean diet and want an Easy way to start.

We do recommend getting The 21 Day Mediterranean Diet Challenge. 

It's a weekly Mediterranean Meal Plan, grocery lists and recipes to help you get started.

Let us take all the hard work out of the Mediterranean diet for you! 

Hundreds of women are experiencing the same struggle you’re going through right now.

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Go ahead and click here for The 21 Day Challenge 

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