10 Easy and Affordable Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Save time and money with these delicious and healthy recipes

Every May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, but there are plenty of reasons to celebrate throughout the year. In 2018, the Mediterranean diet tied as the top overall diet in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, and it’s easy to understand why. The Med diet’s delicious foods and vibrant lifestyle have been linked to longer life, improved brain function, and lower rates of cancer and chronic disease. In addition to its many health benefits, the Mediterranean diet can also save you time and money.

Many of the foods and traditions of the Mediterranean diet—like beans, lentils, and grains—can be purchased and cooked in affordable ways. The most savvy Mediterranean cooks among us know how to avoid food waste and use up any day-old ingredients remaining in their kitchens by incorporating them into new meals in interesting ways.

Take a look at our favorite time- and money-saving hacks in these 10 healthy Mediterranean diet recipes from Oldways and Verywell.

1

Hummus

Hummus recipe from Oldways
An Oldways Photo

Given its ubiquity on store and refrigerator shelves today, can you imagine that 20 years ago, hummus was a strange foreign product to most U.S. consumers? In 10 minutes, you can whip up this nutrient-rich hummus recipe to use as a dip, spread, and topping for sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Enjoy it at any meal of the day—even breakfast—just as people do in the Mediterranean.

Quick Tip: Modern conveniences can enhance heritage diets. Dried chickpeas can take hours to prepare, so save time with canned chickpeas, which also have a similar shelf life.

2

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa stuffed peppers recipe
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD

This quinoa stuffed pepper recipe gives Mediterranean staples a modern-day twist. Once you’ve mastered the technique of making stuffed peppers, you can customize the filling with whatever whole grains you have on hand. For another option, top these with Mediterranean dips and sauces, like tahini dressing, tzatziki, or hummus.

Quick Tip: To save time, fill the scooped pepper halves the day before. When you’re ready to eat, you can just bake them in the oven, making for a much smoother weeknight meal.

3

Orzo With Feta, Olives, Tomatoes, and Dill

Orzo with feta, olives, tomatoes, and dill recipe from Oldways
An Oldways Photo

The best part about this orzo with feta, olives, tomatoes, and dill recipe is that its ingredients are merely suggestions—you can change it every time you make it according to taste and sight. In other words, if it looks like a nice, balanced combination of ingredients and it tastes great, it’s ready!

Quick Tip: Any pasta salad is the ultimate money-saver. As you customize based on your preferences and budget, keep in mind that in-season produce tends to be most affordable.

4

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Grilled eggplant salad recipe
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD

Grilling gives vegetables an unmatched smoky flavor, but it’s easy to get into the rut of just throwing the same old things on the grill and calling it a day. This grilled eggplant salad recipe adds bell peppers to the base, and enhances the flavor and texture with fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon, and pine nuts.

Quick Tip: Most of the ingredients in this salad can be found at a local farmers markets in the summer. If you have one near you, check out the selection for perfectly in-season produce that won’t break the bank.

5

Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable frittata recipe from Oldways
An Oldways Photo

A lot can be made from a few eggs! And you can enjoy them at any meal of the day—not just for breakfast. This vegetable frittata dish is particularly ideal for the end of the week, when the food in your refrigerator may be dwindling. It’s simple to make since everything cooks in the same skillet. If you can, garnish liberally with fresh herbs like chives, parsley, and basil to elevate the flavor and style.

Quick Tip: Make this for a Sunday brunch, then reheat the leftovers for an easy, grab-and-go lunch throughout the week to save time and money.

6

Mediterranean Socca Pizza

Mediterranean socca pizza recipe
Stephanie Clarke, MS, RD & Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

If you’re a fan of pizza, meet our other favorite flatbread—socca. Rather than being made of refined white flour, like most pizzas today, this socca is made from chickpea flour, meaning it offers more protein, fiber, and flavor. Top the socca the same way you would top a pizza crust—with tomatoes, pesto, or any assortment of veggies.

Quick Tip: Keep a bag of chickpea flour or whole grain pizza dough in your freezer, so that a tasty flatbread meal is never out of reach. Throw one together when you have a few odds and ends (like vegetables and cheese), but aren’t quite sure how to make a cohesive meal out of them.

7

Penne With Arugula Pesto and Peas

Penne with arugula pesto and peas recipe from Oldways
An Oldways Photo

You read that right! Pesto, from the verb “to pound” in Italian, isn’t just limited to basil-based recipes. In this case, spicy arugula and toasted walnuts create a flavorful pesto that pairs well with penne’s sturdy shape and texture. You’ll likely have leftover pesto, which you can use within 2-3 days, or freeze in cubes for later.

Quick Tip: Stock up with frozen produce to save time and leave worries about shelf life behind. Plus, frozen veggies may even retain their nutrients better than their fresh counterparts.

8

Greek Shrimp With Feta and Olives

Low-FODMAP Greek Shrimp With Feta Recipe
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD

This easy, one-pan weeknight meal is brimming with Mediterranean flavors, like olives, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and seafood. If shrimp isn’t available (or on sale) near you, feel free to substitute with another mild white fish. We love serving this recipe over a Mediterranean whole grain, such as bulgur, farro, freekeh, or whole wheat orzo pasta.

Quick Tip: One-pan meals are the ultimate time-saver. Less time washing dishes means more time enjoying food and conversation with friends and family—an important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.

9

Sardine Patties With Dill Yogurt Sauce

Sardine patties with dill yogurt sauce
An Oldways Photo

Prepping seafood doesn’t have to be intimidating. Just drain and mash tinned sardines to make these savory patties packed with protein, omega-3s, and vitamin D. One of the most striking differences between Mediterranean and American seafood dishes is the Mediterranean’s creative use of little fish, which are lower on the food chain and more sustainable than larger fish.

Quick Tip: Small fish like sardines and mackerel are cheap, ready-to-eat sources of protein and the perfect flavor accents for your meals.

10

Ultimate Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad
EA Stewart, MBA, RDN

This lunchbox- and potluck-friendly salad is made with hearty chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, rather than delicate greens. It’s easy to work toward your vegetable and fiber goals when your kitchen is stocked with Mediterranean essentials like chickpeas, vegetables, and olive oil.

Quick Tip: Don’t underestimate the tasty creations you can concoct by mixing together your leftover veggies and legumes with some oil. It’s a much cheaper option than takeout when you’re crunched for time.

Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition organization, is on a mission to bring traditional foods, foodways, and lifestyles—ones that are good for people and good for the planet—to kitchens around the world. Oldways is best known for the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and their 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan. They also developed the Whole Grain Stamp, which helps consumers find products that contain whole grains.

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