How to Follow a Mediterranean Diet without Breaking the Bank

woman checking if mediterranean diet expensive

Eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank, and the Mediterranean diet is a perfect example of that. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies and practical tips from smart shopping strategies to affordable ingredient substitutions to help you adopt the Mediterranean diet on a budget with ease.

Can You Afford To Adopt The Mediterranean Food Pattern

The Mediterranean diet is widely regarded as the healthiest way to eat. It has a high fibre content, a low-fat content, and is high in antioxidants.

What's the best part? You can have it at any time of day!

So, as food price ranges are increasing, it must be expensive?

It turns out that with a little imagination, you can come up with good arguments why this isn't the case.

Junk Food Is Cheaper, But Is It Better?

It is true that in some regions of the world, the cost of a McDonald's meal per day is lower than the cost of a diet based on locally available produce.

However, when considering affordability, we must consider the expense of not eating a healthy diet.

While the financial burden of choosing a nutritious diet over a less healthy one may be significant for low-income families, the health risks associated with a poor diet are considerably larger!

Furthermore, Mediterranean food is nutritious, so avoiding it means you'll be missing out on the disease-fighting benefits of this diet. When considering the total cost of health care over a lifetime, it is more cost-effective to follow a healthy diet.(1)

Prevention, as the old adage goes, 'is better than cure'!

How Do You Follow The Mediterranean Diet On A Budget

A woman in a shopping cart holding a cell phone.

One of the methods to get around the more expensive prices of fresh fruits and vegetables is to buy frozen vegetables. There are other ways as well.

For example, growing your own vegetables and keeping an eye 

on the reduced-price section of the supermarket are two other cost-cutting methods you might use.

Finding out the time of day when the staff offers discounts, particularly on fish, can result in significant food cost savings.

Get your free Mediterranean Diet pdf Food List

Download our free food list 

A List of the 100+ Best Foods to Eat on the Mediterranean Diet

Can't Afford Fresh Fish? Try These Alternatives

Frozen fish is another option that can save you money compared to buying fresh.

Canned fish like mackerel or sardines are another low-cost option that still provides a healthy dose of calcium, vitamin D as well as being rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

If you can't afford to buy tuna steak from the fish market, maybe you may try canned tuna or salmon instead, like mackerel and sardines they are also fatty fish high in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

What To Do If You Are On A Really Tight Budget

If, like many, you are currently living paycheck to paycheck or in full-time education as a student?

There will always be places like food banks, community pantries, and food co-ops available to people in need of food.

illustration of a woman with no money on Mediterranean diet expensive

Food in these establishments is usually canned rather than fresh. But canned goods shouldn't be disregarded or looked down upon.

In some cases, they may still provide necessary nutrients. Just stick to the heart-healthy options that the Mediterranean diet recommends.

For example, use canned tuna or salmon in place of hot dogs or corned beef; use canned tomatoes in place of tomato paste.

Pick And Choose Where You Want To Start.

You also have the option of picking and choosing which aspects of the diet you will include in your spending plan.

For instance, instead of purchasing corn oil or a cheap blended olive oil, it is more cost-effective to get a high-quality bottle of extra virgin olive oil and use it occasionally. You'll use a lot less of it, and it tastes better.

Start The Mediterranean Diet Gradually

woman choosing between apple and muffin to eat foe the mediterranean diet

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet can be experienced with as little as one meal each day. You can then slowly incorporate more Mediterranean-style foods into your diet over time.

Red Meat And Diet Costs

On a Mediterranean diet, the consumption of red meat is extremely uncommon. If you already consume red meat, eliminating it from your diet is an excellent way to reduce your dietary costs.

The money saved can then used to buy high-quality leafy greens, fish, or fruit and legumes.

It's possible that the only change you can make to your diet so that it more closely resembles the Mediterranean food pattern is to eliminate red meat from it entirely.

However, this is a change for the better that can help lower your long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (2) and cancer.(3)

How To Make Filling Meals On A Budget

Plant-based foods make up the majority of the Mediterranean diet. Vegetables and legumes fall within this category. This is a great starting point for a wide variety of healthy, nutritious and filling meals.

cooking ingredients prepared for batch cooking

Buying in large quantities at a reduced cost can be one strategy to bring down the food costs. After that, you will be able to prepare meals in bulk and freeze them.

Consider hearty dishes such as vegetable casseroles and soups made with vegetables. 

 You may also add beans and lentils to these dishes to make them more substantial. These are low priced foods that include both protein and fibre, and can keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Eating In-Season

Buy local fruits and vegetables while they are in-season to take advantage of the glut of food produce. When this occurs, they are less expensive because they do not require transportation from another country. They also have fantastic flavour.

Vegetables are a great hunger buster because of the high vitamin and fibre content, both of which contribute to taking longer to digest.

Since it's so difficult to break down, you won't feel hungry for a long time after eating it.

The Effects Of Eating Fast Food

Fast food may be cheaper but in comparison take a look at how long it takes before you feel hungry again after eating a Big Mac.

It won't take long for your body to break down the processed meat and the simple carbohydrates that make up the bun, and a few bits of added salad

hungry man thinking about a burger

Which means that you'll soon be feeling hungry again. as a result of the food being rapidly digested, your blood sugar will be low again.

Another reason is that when you eat only fast food, your body actually becomes malnourished. Your body is pleading with you to eat some nourishing healthy food. And the only way for the body to communicate this is to let you know it is hungry.(4)

Create Your Own Custom Mediterranean Diet Plan

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Create Your Own Perfect Diet Plan

Change The 'Why' You Eat

One of the issues with the way that we eat these days is that we eat in order to achieve a feeling of fullness. What we really should be aiming at is eating until we are 'no longer hungry.' There is a significant difference.

I would bet that the size of your portions greatly exceeds your appetite.

Smaller servings of good-quality, with high nutrient density, such as that found in the Mediterranean diet, are easier on the wallet, the waistline, and your health.

Don't Eat Whilst Doing This..

man and woman eating and watching tv whilst sat on sofa

Eating as a family around a table is an important part of the Mediterranean diet that many people overlook. This promotes more focused eating and contact among family members, which not only improves well-being but also makes you more aware of what you are eating.

If you eat a ready meal and fries in front of the TV, you're much more likely to overeat than if you ate at a table with family members or close friends and focussed on what you were eating.(5)

A Simple Money Saving Tip

Concentrating on what you're eating will make you more aware of the signals from your stomach that your hunger has been satisfied.

So, if turning off the television is the only change you can afford to make, do it! It is completely free.

It will actually reduce your electricity consumption and hence, save you money.

illustration of morph sitting on a piggy bank

Planning Ahead Is Vital Doing This Will Help You Succeed

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, saving money by preparing meals in advance is possible.

After a long exhausting day at work, calling for a takeout is a simple and sometimes expensive solution.

But if you do things like batch cook or create meal plans in addition to planning grocery trips, you can ensure that there are ready prepared home cooked healthy meals when you arrive home after work.

These actions help make it easier for you to stick to both the diet of the Mediterranean and your budget.

Mediterranean Diet - How to Save Money FREE Interactive Checklist

Thinking Outside-The-Box To Save More Money

As a final question, and I don't mean to be disrespectful, I was wondering if there is anything that you can stop paying for that will enable you to take full advantage of the benefits that the Mediterranean diet offers to your health.

illustration of woman exercising
  • Do you smoke cigarettes or consume an excessive amount of beer or wine?
  • What about a gym membership that you no longer use?
  • Do you pay for any other services that you never use?
  • Rather than keeping your Netflix membership, why not cancel it?
  • Final Thoughts

    If you were to be struck down with a life threatening illness, would you be thinking to yourself, "I really wish I'd watched more television"? I very much doubt it!

    You are more likely to be thinking something along the lines of, "I wish I'd had a healthier diet and spent more time with my family."

    That certainly provides something to think about doesn't it.


  • Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of the Mediterranean Diet: Results of a Systematic Review
  • Higher consumption of red and processed meat is associated with adverse cardiovascular magnetic resonance morpho-functional phenotypes: A study of 19,408 UK Biobank participants.
  • Meat, fish and dairy
  • How Can Fast Food Cause Malnutrition? 20 Secrets Reasons
  • Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat
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