The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

Authentic Mediterranean Diet Meal plan and menu

By Elena Paravantes, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Mediterranean Diet Expert

I’ve been asked many times to provide an authentic Mediterranean Diet meal plan, and when we say authentic, we mean it! The reason for this is that most “Mediterranean Diet” meal plans I see online are anything but. Sorry, but edamame beans, minuscule amounts of  olive oil, canola oil, meat with every meal etc. are not part of a Mediterranean Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet is considered the Gold Standard of diets. It was voted Best Diet for 2018 from US News and is associated with numerous health benefits supported by strong evidence. This covers heart Health, Cancer Prevention, Psychological Health, Alzheimers, Fertility, Weight Loss and many more.

Now I have to say, I am not a supporter of rigid plans, however it is important to eat at somewhat regular times so you don’t end up feeling very-very hungry at any particularly moment of the day. Having said that, I also think it is important to be able to actually feel hunger, and look forward to eating a meal.  While adding a snack here and there is good to keep blood sugar and hunger levels in balance, snacking can also backfire. Many times we eat a snack without being hungry or we depend on ready-made snacks such as granola bars, juices, smoothies etc. which not only add quite a few calories but also are a processed food with all that entails.

Below is a quick graphic of a meal plan on the traditional Mediterranean diet, it is the same meal plan that I also follow. Under the graphic you can find details, tips and links to the recipes. I provide a variety of choices for meals that you can mix and match with links to the recipes. For more ideas just head over to the Recipe Index and you will find a large selection of Mediterranean recipes.

Enjoy!

The Authentic Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan

Details, Tips And Recipes

-Breakfast-

Coffee
+
Choice #1: Whole grain bread with an unsweetened nut butter (I use tahini)

Choice #2: Barley rusk with olive oil, crumbled cheese and olives

Choice #3: Greek style scrambled egg with tomatoes (Kagianas) or other egg dishes with veggies. Click for egg recipes.

Choice #4: Full fat Greek yogurt with nuts, fruit and honey

Choice #5: Whole grain bread + a piece of cheese + tomatoes


-Mid-Morning Snack-

*A seasonal fruit


-Lunch-

Lunch in the largest meal of the day. If you have trouble doing that, you can switch dinner with lunch and try and have dinner somewhat early.

Choice #1: Lathero Dish (seasonal vegetables or beans cooked with olive oil, herbs, and tomato sauce accompanied by bread and cheese). This is what you will have 3-4 times a week. Typically this is green beans, peasspanakorizo (spinach-rice) and cauliflower cooked in this way. This is accompanied by a slice of bread and feta. Click for lathera recipes. Please note that one serving consists of 3-4 servings of vegetables.

Choice #2: Pita like spanakopita with a salad on the side. Check our pita recipes.

Choice #3: Once or twice a week a chicken dish such as Greek style stewed chicken with a seasonal salad

Choice #4: A bean dish. Beans such as lentils as well as white beans are consumed as a thick stew or roasted. They are accompanied with feta cheese and some bread.

Choice #5: Small fatty fish such as sardines or anchovies roasted. Accompanied with lightly boiled greens and drizzled with olive oil and some lemon.

1 fruit


-Snack- (if hungry)

*Tomato with a rusk and sometimes cheese + a serving of fruit

or

*1/2 cup Greek yogurt with fruit


-Dinner-

Dinner is a lighter meal, so it is generally good to keep fairly light-avoid meats and heavy sauces. Typically it is a small serving of lunch or a meal rich in vegetables.

Wine (1 – 1 ½ glass) and a small meze platter (2-3 olives, a few pieces of cheese, tomato or carrot sticks)

AND

Choice #1: A smaller serving of lunch

Choice #2: A large salad (in the winter mainly greens, in the summer tomatoes) with an olive oil salad dressing, grated or crumbled cheese, and nuts (walnuts, pine nuts or almonds). Check our Mediterranean salad recipes.

Choice 3: Roasted vegetables in olive oil (cauliflower or a mix –like briami). This is an easy and effortless way to get prepare vegetables and consume it as a main course.

Choice 4: Omelette with feta accompanied by a simple salad such as tomato and cucumber with olive oil or a green leafy salad.

Choice #5: Yogurt with rusks and fruit. This is a typical evening meal, particularly if lunch has been a bit larger.

*Once a week chicken and once a week another type of meat or fish, accompanied by salad or greens (horta)

*One or two meals a week contain some sort of pasta.

Notes:

  • Beverages: Aim to drink 1 ½ liters of water (6 cups) + herbal beverages a day. Avoid any other beverages except wine.
  • Olive oil is the main source of fat, do not skimp. Benefits are seen at a consumption of at least 2 tablespoons a day. Olive oil also provides satiety (among many other benefits) which is important if you are eating a meal made only with vegetables.
  • Lathera dishes usually last 2-3 days (in fact they taste better the next day). I also use frozen peas or green beans in the winter for my lathera.
  • Pites can be assembled (and baked) and frozen.
  • Try and eat your main (largest) meal as early as you can.
  • Cheese and yogurt are your main dairy sources.
  • Finally, this is meant meant to be a guide, as each person’s (calorie) needs varies depending on age, gender, physical activity level etc. However, I advise you check the Greek Nutrition Guidelines which basically represents the Mediterranean diet that includes a range of servings. Go here to check the Greek Diet guidelines.

And don’t forget to check the complete Mediterranean diet shopping list here:


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Mediterranean Diet

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85 Comments

  • Reply Veronica November 17, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    My first time doing the Mediterranean diet hopefully I can stick to it for great results. Thank you for your information everything looks delicious

  • Reply JJ October 1, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you for your recipes – we just bought your cookbook and have loved the 2 recipes that we’ve made.

    2 questions – cooked tomatoes are too acidic for me (acid reflux). For the dishes requiring a tomato sauce or base, can you recommend a substitute that would also be flavorful?

    Also, just double checking that it is OK to mix and match recipes for any given day with recipes from a different day?

    Thank you.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 1, 2021 at 2:10 pm

      Hi! Hope you are enjoying the book! For the tomato sauce, in some recipes you can omit it (it will affect the taste though) or you can try using a bit of tomato paste to give it a touch of tomato flavor. Also I find that cooking it at very low heat helps, just a simmer.
      You can substitute some recipes for others that are similar in terms of the type of dish (vegetables, meat, etc.).

      • Reply JJ October 2, 2021 at 10:15 pm

        Thank you, Ellen. Great suggestion about using tomato paste.
        Final question – how do you ‘grate’ a tomato?!? I may have missed something in reading your book but have not a clue re: how to grate a tomato. I am currently looking at the on-line recipe for the Cretan Salad.
        And, your book is really beautiful and easy to follow. I am trying lower my blood pressure as well and am looking forward to completely diving in to this style of eating.
        Thank you for helping us find our way back to health.

        • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 10, 2021 at 7:13 am

          Hi JJ, I have the dakos recipe in the book where I provide instructions on how to grate a tomato, adding it here too: Slice a thin round off the bottom of the tomato, holding the tomato by the stem side, start grating the tomato at the cut side, using the largest holes of the grater. Grate over a plate until you reach the skin of the tomato (you should be left with the flattened skin). Throw away the skin, drain the liquids using a fine mesh strainer and set aside.

  • Reply Zee August 7, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    I’m officially addicted to your website. As an Orthodox Christian in South Africa, I tend to struggle with the Lenten seasons because I cannot fit them into my “low carb” attempts. With this way of eating, I don’t need to switch between diets.
    I’ve printed the meal plans for inspiration.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 11, 2021 at 8:44 am

      Thank you for your kind words Zee! Happy to provide helpful information.

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