Mediterranean Diet on a Budget

The Mediterranean Diet on a budget can be wallet-friendly. With a focus on how and when to buy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins like beans and fish, the Mediterranean Diet is a great way you can eat healthily without breaking the bank.

When shopping for food, you can choose affordable foods that are consistent with your meal plan. Additionally, limiting portions can help in reducing food costs, and you can also plan your meals to avoid wastage.

Following the diet is not always about buying exotic or expensive foods. Typically, the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes variety, portion control, and limiting processed foods.

Meat is often the most expensive item on our grocery list. However, you don’t have to eliminate meat from your diet entirely to eat healthily and save money. Try incorporating Meatless Monday into your routine and skip meat for one day a week.

Instead, choose plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, and chickpeas, which are affordable and packed with protein. You can also enjoy meat substitutes like tofu and tempeh, which are also budget-friendly.

Planning your meals ahead of time is one of the best ways to save money and eat healthily. Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals, make a grocery list, and stick to it.

This will not only help you avoid impulse purchases but also reduce the wastage of food. By planning your meals, you can also incorporate new and exciting recipes into your diet without compromising your budget.

One of the essential elements of the Mediterranean Diet is consuming fresh and seasonal foods. The Mediterranean region is known for its abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Mediterranean diet could be less expensive compared to other diets. Fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to access, and the cost of these items is mostly affordable. You can opt to purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables to save money while being consistent with your meal plan.

  • Fish is an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other types of meat. Canned tuna and salmon are budget-friendly options that you can use to make salads, wraps, or sandwiches. You can also buy frozen fish, like tilapia or cod, and bake or grill them to create tasty meals that are good for your heart health.

Eating seasonal vegetables is a smart way to save money while following the Mediterranean diet. By choosing produce that is in season, you get the most flavor, nutrients, and value for your money.

Grilled Salmon with Spinach and Feta Salad

In the summer you can enjoy fresh tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers. In the winter, you can opt for root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets. You can also use frozen vegetables to add variety to your dishes all year round.

  • One of the most significant factors driving up the cost of Mediterranean ingredients is buying produce out of season. Seasonal produce that is grown locally is often cheaper and more accessible than imported goods. Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season in your area can help you save significantly on your grocery bill.

Make Your Sauces to Save Money on the Mediterranean Diet

  • Some store-bought Mediterranean sauces, such as hummus or tzatziki, can be costly. But making your sauces at home can save you money and give you more control over the ingredients.

With a few simple ingredients like chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, you can make a tasty hummus that’s cheaper than anything you’ll find in the store.

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to make a sauce on the Mediterranean diet is to start with a basic olive oil and lemon dressing. All you need is some extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Mix all the ingredients, and you have a versatile and flavorful dressing that can be used on salads, roasted vegetables, grilled meat, or fish.

  • One tip for finding an inexpensive olive oil is to opt for a larger bottle as they tend to be more cost-effective in the long run. Additionally, look for olive oils that are labeled as “light” or “pure” as they are often less expensive than their extra-virgin counterparts. Another option is to purchase olive oil from a local farmers’ market or specialty store where prices may be lower due to lower overhead costs.

Make sure to read the label carefully and look for the country of origin as this can have an impact on price. By considering these tips, you can find an affordable olive oil that fits your budget without sacrificing flavor or quality.

Fresh herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your sauces without adding extra calories or cost. For example, you can make a simple tomato sauce by sautéing some garlic and onion in olive oil, adding some canned tomatoes, and seasoning with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

You can make a creamy tahini sauce by whisking together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and salt, and adding some chopped parsley or cilantro for freshness.

Pesto is a classic Mediterranean sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. While store-bought pesto can be expensive, making your pesto is easy and affordable. All you need is some fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a food processor.

Blend all the ingredients until smooth, and use it as a dip, spread, or sauce for pasta, grilled vegetables, or fish.

Roasted peppers are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and can be used in a variety of sauces and dishes. However, store-bought roasted peppers can be quite expensive. Instead, you can roast your peppers at home for a fraction of the cost. All you need is some fresh peppers, a baking sheet, and an oven.

Roast the peppers at high heat until they are charred on all sides, then remove the skin, seeds, and stem, and blend the flesh with some olive oil, garlic, and salt for a delicious and affordable roasted pepper sauce.

Canned beans are a great staple to have in your pantry for making inexpensive and healthy sauces. You can make a simple white bean dip by blending some canned white beans with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.

You can also make a hearty tomato and lentil sauce by sautéing some onion and garlic in olive oil, adding some canned lentils, and crushed tomatoes, and seasoning with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.

  • Keep a detailed list of all the foods and ingredients required for the Mediterranean diet and only buy them when they are on sale. This method is not only cost-effective, but it will also help you stay organized and prepared for your meals.

By being mindful of the items you need and the prices you are willing to pay, you will be able to supplement your diet with healthy, nutritious foods without breaking the bank. Check local flyers and coupons for deals on meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains that are a staple in the Mediterranean Diet.

7-Day Mediterranean Diet Budget Meal Plan

Day 1

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and honey

Lunch: Mediterranean-inspired salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese

Dinner: Baked chicken thighs with roasted potatoes and green beans

Day 2

Breakfast: Oatmeal with banana and walnuts

Lunch: Mediterranean-inspired quinoa salad with cucumber, bell peppers, olives, and feta cheese

Dinner: Mediterranean-style stuffed peppers with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and spices.

Day 3

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and granola

Lunch: Greek-style wrap with roasted chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce

Dinner: Grilled salmon with mashed sweet potato and roasted asparagus

Salmon for the Mediterranean Diet.

Day 4

Breakfast: Avocado toast with tomato and egg

Lunch: Pasta salad with spinach, cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese

Dinner: Homemade chicken souvlaki with pita bread and extra veggies on the side

Day 5

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with banana and granola

Lunch: Mediterranean-inspired chickpea salad with cucumber, bell peppers, and feta cheese

Dinner: Grilled chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli

Day 6

Breakfast: Oatmeal with honey and almonds

Lunch: Greek-style quinoa bowl with grilled chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce

Dinner: Mediterranean-style stuffed eggplant with lean ground beef, rice, and tomatoes

Day 7

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries and granola

Lunch: Mediterranean-inspired wrap with hummus, roasted chicken, spinach, and onion

Dinner: Grilled lamb chops with roasted veggies and quinoa

5 Inexpensive Replacements for Meat

Beans and legumes are a fantastic source of plant-based protein and are relatively cheap compared to meat. Chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans are all great options to add to your diet. They can be added to salads and soups, and even used as the primary ingredient in dishes like hummus.

Beans and legumes as an alternative to meat on the Mediterranean diet.

Tofu is an excellent source of protein and can be used as a replacement for meat in many recipes. It is also relatively cheap, making it a great alternative to meat. Try using it in stir-fries, curries, and salads.

Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and are relatively cheap compared to meat. You can eat them in many different ways, such as scrambled, boiled, or even used in baking. Try incorporating eggs into your breakfast to switch up your morning routine.

A High Protein Diet

Nuts and seeds are another great source of protein and healthy fats, making them an excellent replacement for meat. They can be used in salads, as a snack, or even ground up and used as a coating for meat replacements like tofu or tempeh.

Whole grains like quinoa, barley, and brown rice are all great sources of carbohydrates and can be used as a replacement for meat. Try using them in salads or alongside roasted vegetables for a filling and healthy meal.

Mediterranean diet smoothie

Affordable Mediterranean Smoothies

Green Goddess Smoothie

This smoothie recipe is the perfect way to pack in greens like spinach and kale, which are nutrient-dense and low in calories. You’ll need 1 cup of spinach leaves, 1/2 a cup of chopped kale, 1/2 a cup of Greek yogurt, 1/2 a cup of frozen mango chunks, and 1/4 of a cup of pineapple juice.

Blend all ingredients until you reach a smooth texture. This Green Goddess Smoothie is sure to give you the energy boost you need to start your day.

Almond Joy Smoothie

Not only is this smoothie a perfect way to satisfy your cravings for something sweet, but it’s also a great source of protein. You’ll need one cup of almond milk, one banana, one tablespoon of almond butter, and one tablespoon of cocoa powder.

Blend all the ingredients until it’s smooth and your Almond Joy Smoothie is ready. This smoothie will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth without being high in sugar.

Tropical Pineapple Smoothie

This smoothie is perfect for when you are craving something refreshing and tropical. You’ll need one cup of pineapple chunks, one cup of coconut milk, and one tablespoon of chia seeds. Blend all the ingredients and voila, your Tropical Pineapple Smoothie is ready.

The chia seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein, making this smoothie wholesome and perfect for those of us who crave a light breakfast.

Top 10 Smoothies for Weight Loss

Blueberry Oat Smoothie

This smoothie is super easy to make and perfect for a quick breakfast on the go. You’ll need 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of oats, 1 banana, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, and 1 cup of almond milk. Blend all the ingredients until the mixture is smooth, and your Blueberry Oat Smoothie is ready.

It’s packed with fiber, protein, and complex carbs, making this smoothie a perfect option for those trying to watch their waistlines.

100 of the Best Ingredients for the Mediterranean Diet

Whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur are all great options for the Mediterranean diet. These whole grains provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals while also helping you feel full and satisfied.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fresh fruits instead of processed sweets. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and berries are all great options for healthy snacking.

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. They’re a great addition to salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are great sources of protein and fiber. They’re also versatile and can be used in salads, soups, and stews.

Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve brain function.

Olive oil is the primary fat source in the Mediterranean diet. It’s rich in antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats that can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium. It can be used as a base for dips and sauces, as well as in smoothies and parfaits.

Mediterranean Taco Recipe

Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are all great sources of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They make a great snack and can be used in salads and other dishes.

Eggs are a great source of protein and can be used in a variety of dishes such as omelets and frittatas.

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. They can be used in sauces, salads, and sandwiches.

Garlic is a great source of antioxidants and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. It can be used in sauces, dressings, and marinades.

Onions are a great source of fiber and antioxidants. They can be used in soups, stews, and stir-fries.

Basil, cilantro, parsley, and oregano are all great herbs to use in Mediterranean dishes. They add flavor and are packed with antioxidants.

While the Mediterranean diet does not emphasize dairy, cheese can be used in moderation. Feta, goat cheese, and parmesan are all great options.

While not an ingredient that is used in cooking, red wine is often consumed in moderation on the Mediterranean diet. It’s a great source of antioxidants and can reduce the risk of heart disease.

The Cost of Eating Well

Comparing the Mediterranean Diet to Other Popular Diets

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of people living in countries along the Mediterranean Sea. The diet emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and fish.

This diet tends to be relatively affordable, as it focuses on simple ingredients and does not require expensive supplements or products.

The cost of the Mediterranean diet can vary based on location and availability of fresh produce and lean meats. However, with proper planning, this diet can easily fit into a budget-friendly lifestyle.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is designed to mimic the eating habits of our ancient ancestors. The emphasis is on whole, unprocessed foods and excludes processed foods including grains, legumes, and dairy. The Paleo diet can be more expensive, typically requiring more fresh meats, fish, and produce.

The high cost of this diet is largely due to the emphasis on grass-fed and pasture-raised meat options, as well as high-quality organic fruits and vegetables.

How to Lose Weight: A Nutritionist’s Guide

Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that provides many health benefits, including weight loss and improved blood sugar control. This diet is often more expensive than the Mediterranean diet due to the emphasis on high-quality protein and full-fat dairy products. 

As with the Paleo diet, high-quality organic fruits and vegetables are also recommended. Overall, the costs can be high, but proper planning and meal preparation can help to minimize these expenses.

Frustrated dieter on a Mediterranean diet budget.

Vegan Diet

The vegan diet excludes all animal-derived foods, including meat, dairy, and eggs. Although a vegan diet can be affordable, the cost can rise when specialty vegetarian options are utilized, such as meat substitutes, where limits are placed on what is available and sourcing reliable plant-based proteins from organic options.

The Healthiest Vegan Ingredients to Incorporate into Your Diet

Vegan sources of protein include beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains are also staples of the vegan diet.


The DASH dietary plan is intended to reduce blood pressure and prevent heart disease. This eating plan is similar to the Mediterranean diet and emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods.


The cost of this diet varies depending on food availability, however, general grocery items such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy options, poultry, fish, and lean meat cuts are some of the relatively economical choices that make up the diet.

Inexpensive Canned Fish for the Mediterranean Diet

Sardines are one of the most affordable canned fish on the market, packed with all kinds of beneficial nutrients such as calcium, vitamins B12 and D, and omega-3 fatty acids. With only 25-50 calories per serving, sardines can keep you full for a long time. Plus, sardines are usually harvested in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.

Mackerel is another inexpensive canned fish packed with health benefits. It contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and protein. Moreover, mackerel is one of the most flavorful fish, making it an excellent addition to salads, sandwiches, or pasta dishes.

Anchovies are not only affordable but also offer a unique flavor that can add a lot of interest to Mediterranean dishes. Packed in oil, anchovies are full of protein, vitamin B12, and healthy fats. They also contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Tuna is one of the most popular canned fish globally, and it’s also incredibly affordable. It’s an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium. Try to look for tuna that is packed in water instead of oil and avoid the ones that contain added sauces, as they often contain high amounts of sodium.

Mediterranean Chickpea Bowls

While canned salmon is not the cheapest canned fish, it’s still affordable and loaded with health benefits. Canned salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, and it’s often more accessible to find than fresh salmon. The pink color of salmon comes from a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is beneficial to our health.

Save Money on Buying Bulk Ingredients

Stocking up on whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta can be a cost-effective way to eat well. Not only are these grains versatile and can make up the bulk of a meal, but they also have a long shelf life. Buying in bulk can be even cheaper and the extra savings can add up over time.

Olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and is one of the healthiest types of oils you can use in cooking. It’s also versatile and can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Buying a large container of olive oil instead of multiple small bottles can save money and reduce waste.

Canned tomatoes are a great pantry staple to have on hand when it comes to making Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as pasta sauces and soups. Not only are they cost-effective, but they also have a long shelf life, making them a great option for buying in bulk.

Beans and lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and are a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Buying these in bulk can be a great way to save money and they also have a long shelf life, making them a great option for stocking up on.

Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are full of healthy fats and make a great snack or addition to meals. Buying these in bulk can be a cost-effective way to get your fix and they also have a long shelf life.

Money-Saving Mediterranean Meals

  • Homemade Hummus
  • Greek Salad
  • Shakshuka
  • Lentil Soup
  • Grilled Fish

Hummus is a staple in any Mediterranean diet, and it’s surprisingly easy to make at home. With a simple list of ingredients including a can of chickpeas or dried chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and you have a delicious dip that can be served with veggies or pita bread. This recipe is not only cheap, but it is also high in protein and healthy fats.

Greek salad is another classic Mediterranean dish that is easy to make and affordable. All you need is some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and olives. Toss the ingredients together in a bowl with some olive oil and lemon juice, and you have a refreshing and healthy salad that can be served as a side dish or a light lunch.

Shakshuka is a popular dish in the Middle East and North Africa that has been adopted by the Mediterranean diet. It’s a simple and hearty meal that can be made with ingredients that are already in your pantry. You will need canned tomatoes, eggs, bell peppers, onions, and spices.

Sautee the onions and peppers in olive oil, add the canned tomatoes and spices, and crack the eggs into the mixture. Let the eggs cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, and serve with crusty bread.

Lentil soup is a comforting and nourishing meal that is perfect for the colder months. It’s also a great way to get in some plant-based protein while keeping the cost low.

This recipe incorporates lentils, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and vegetable broth to make a delicious Mediterranean soup. Sautee the vegetables in olive oil, add the lentils and broth, and let it simmer until the lentils are soft. You can also add some spices like cumin or coriander for extra flavor.

Fish is a key component of the Mediterranean diet, and it’s also a great way to get in some omega-3s and lean protein. While fresh fish can be expensive, frozen fish can be a more affordable option. Look for frozen fish fillets like salmon or tilapia, and grill them with some lemon juice and herbs for a simple and healthy meal. You can also serve the fish with some roasted vegetables or a simple side salad.

Affordable Mediterranean Recipes

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This salad is easy to make and packed with flavor. You will need:

1 cup quinoa

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 bell pepper, diced

1 cucumber, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. In a separate bowl, mix the chickpeas, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and olives. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Add the cooked quinoa to the bowl with the vegetables and toss to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss again.

Mediterranean Baked Fish

This recipe is both healthy and delicious.


4 white fish fillets (such as cod or tilapia)

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Arrange the fish fillets in a baking dish. Top each fillet with diced tomatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, olives, and capers. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is a creative and tasty way to enjoy the Mediterranean diet.

You will need:

4 bell peppers, halved and seeded

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Place the bell pepper halves in a baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix the cooked brown rice, chickpeas, red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the pepper halves. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets

This recipe is perfect for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.


4 whole-wheat pita pockets

1/2 cup hummus

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 cucumber, sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut each pita pocket in half and spread the inside with hummus. Fill each pocket with the red onion, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese. Sprinkle with parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Losing weight on a Mediterranean diet on a budget is easier than you think. The cost of eating well can be wallet-friendly with affordable ingredients.


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Nutrition & Diet