Over the last decade, the Mediterranean diet has gained much appreciation for its health benefits which include lower obesity levels, a lower incidence of cancer and fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease.
This diet is rich in olive oil, fresh vegetables, fish and whole grains. While all of these foods have certain health benefits, they aren’t all cheap and sticking to the Mediterranean diet isn’t affordable for everyone.
There are ways to make this diet budget friendly, after all most of the foods associated with the Mediterranean diet have historically been foods for the poor.
Here are four ways to affordably do the Mediterranean diet:
- Cut Out the Junk Foods
This is pretty obvious, the less you spend on chips, sweets and chocolates, the more cash you will have to put towards healthy ingredients. Apart from the fact that junk food isn’t healthy and does not feature in the Med diet, these items, although usually pretty cheap, provide no nutritional benefits and money spent on them could rather go to purchasing veggies – most of which aren’t expensive.
- Plan Wisely for the Week
Many people visit the shops daily and buy just what they need for that evening’s dinner, by doing this you often tend to buy more and end up wasting. Many healthy meals, such as Tuscan stew, can be cooked in large batches and can last for up to three or four days. Cooking like this will help save on ingredients, especially if you buy in bulk, and you will find much less food goes to waste.
- Intensity Over Quantity
The Mediterranean diet uses a lot less meat compared to western diets and meat is usually a more expensive item. When Italians cook meat, they tend to use less and flavour it more with stocks, herbs and olive oil to give it a rich flavour that will satisfy the appetite.
Cutting back on meat might be hard for many people, but it has significant benefits for your heart and may even help ward off some forms of cancer. It’s also not as hard as you might think. By choosing smaller cuts of higher quality meat and using stock cubes, EVOO and cooking wine to accent your dishes, you can enjoy healthier meat dishes and save money. – Olive Oil Times
- Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to Enhance Bland Dishes
While good quality olive oil is essential to the Med diet and is not cheap, it packs a huge punch of flavour and health benefits from a small amount. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) can be used to enhance bland dishes like pasta, veg and salads. A drizzle of EVOO over any dish will give it an added flavour dimension.
Never compromise on olive oil. In the Mediterranean diet, it’s the one ingredient that cooks cannot do without. If you spend big on one item for your kitchen, make it a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. That way, you can whip up beautiful Mediterranean dishes that taste like the real thing, even if you do sometimes rely on canned or frozen vegetables. – Olive Oil Times