12 Budget-Friendly Mediterranean Diet Recipes
The Mediterranean diet is the rare beast that successfully combines delicious food with the concept of a diet. In truth, the Mediterranean diet is more "healthy way of life" than dreary diet that you're forced to conform to. The Mediterranean diet does it by featuring whole foods that taste great with minimal preparations. And it sure doesn't hurt that a little red wine is part of the deal! Fresh, healthy, whole ingredients can, however, be expensive, particularly if they're also organic. But the good news is, on the Mediterranean Diet, you really can eat healthy on a budget. Here are some of the best budget-friendly recipes for the Mediterranean diet.
Spanish Moroccan Fish
Inexpensive tilapia fillets simmer with veggies, garbanzo beans, and Moroccan spices. "Absolutely an EXCELLENT recipe," says Yummy2Tummy. "My non-fish-loving husband wolfed this down in 5 minutes!"
Beaker's Vegetable Barley Soup
This barley-based vegetable soup is hearty and filling for a song. It's even cheaper if you make your own broth. "This is my kind of recipe," says Naneki. "Healthy, flavorful, inexpensive, and easy."
Scrumptious Salmon Cakes
Canned salmon is a great choice for quick weeknight meals. These simple salmon patties put a healthy dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Sapphire says, "I make this with any type of fish that is left over. I use ground oats instead of panko. They are great. We even used them as filling for taco night."
Chef John's Spaghetti al Tonno
Here's one that calls for inexpensive canned tuna. Chef John says, "I love a classic meat sauce as much as the next half-Italian, but when I want something quick and easy for a weeknight meal, I reach for the tuna." And if you don't like fish? "Then this is perfect," he says. "The taste and texture is really closer to a veal sauce than one made with fish."
Creamy Italian White Bean Soup
A hearty Italian-style white bean soup with lots of fresh spinach. The white beans develop a wonderful creamy texture without any actual cream, so it's healthy, too. As Sarah puts it: "All the delicious flavor of an unhealthy cream-based soup, but it's so good for you! Wonderful!"
Rustic Marinara Sauce
This simple marinara sauce is the kind of satisfying comfort food that goes a long way for not a lot of money. "Melting just a little cheese in the sauce adds great richness without overwhelming the tomatoes," says NMP. "And it's easy to keep these ingredients stocked in the house! Makes for amazing leftovers!"
- Budget Tip: Hit the bulk section for foods like nuts, beans, grains, and dried pastas.
Fasolakia (Greek Green Beans)
"Fasolakia are Greek green beans stewed with olive oil and tomato, with a few pieces of potato added for good measure," says Diana Moutsopoulos. "This is a main dish in Greece, not a side dish, and a prime example of plant-based eating! Good crusty bread is essential for mopping up the sauce and I always need to have a healthy chunk of feta on the side. Serve fasolakia warm or at room temperature for best flavor."
"Chakchouka (also called shakshouka) is a Tunisian and Israeli dish of tomatoes, onions, pepper, spices, and eggs," says Ben. "It is similar to the Turkish dish 'Menemen' and to the Latin American breakfast dish 'Huevos Rancheros.' It's usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, but I think it's tasty anytime. And it's easy to make."
Slow Cooker Chicken Marrakesh
Chicken combines with garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, canned diced tomatoes, and seasonings. The Occasional Cooker calls it "a delicious, easy, healthy, and budget-friendly one-dish meal. Excellent."
- Budget Tip: To save money, choose conventional produce (instead of organic) for the fruits on vegetables on the "Clean Fifteen" list -- and organic for those on the "Dirty Dozen" list.
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Minestrone
This vegetarian minestrone soup is loaded with vegetables, kidney beans, and elbow macaroni. "Slow cooking this soup allows all the flavors and spices to intensify,' says Laura.
- Budget Tip: Choose canned or dried beans as inexpensive proteins. They're cheap and filling -- and a good way to extend meat dishes. Lean cuts of meat (like boneless, skinless chicken breast) can be expensive. So consider buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself instead of buying chicken pieces -- you'll have chicken for several meals.
Broiled Spanish Mackerel
Ready in 15 minutes! You'll rub mackerel fillets with olive oil and paprika, top them with sliced lemons, and broil to beautiful. "Holy Mackerel! Simple and yummy," says dbmojo. "With a bonus: Mackerel is a sustainable fish."
Risotto alla Pavese
"Cranberry beans, also called borlotti beans, are considered 'the poor man's meat' due to their nutritional value," says Buckwheat Queen. "Creamy risotto made with fresh cranberry beans comes from the Lombardy region of Italy. With traditional flavors from the region, this risotto is bursting with flavor and healthy goodness. Cranberry beans are also called borlotti beans."