The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

With this easy guide, you will get an easy to follow authentic Mediterranean diet meal plan with everything you need to get started: recipes and tips.

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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94 Comments

  • Reply Madeline November 13, 2019 at 3:49 am

    Elena, even after reading your blog now for a few weeks, I have learned so much about what really works for a healthy cuisine as opposed to what I’ve eaten previously. My breakfast used to consist of a large bowl of oatmeal with butter, and fried eggs on the side. No wonder I wanted to back to sleep after that! I was surprised to find that just eating some yogurt with fruit would keep me going for hours without the fatigue I had before.

    I had also been eating a big dinner with a piece of chicken, fish or beef every night. Now I have a few pieces of meat in the freezer that I barely touch. The idea of eating a larger lunch than dinner was new to me and it seems to make sense not to have a large meal in the evening. After all, we need the lunch to provide us with energy for the afternoon. A large dinner is not necessary when we are relaxing and getting ready to sleep.

    It was also a surprise that I could find plant-based meals so tasty and satisfying due to cooking in olive oil and using tomatoes, herbs and spices to bring out the flavors without meat to “fill you up.”

    I’m working my way up to the fasting days; this is a transition I am taking one step at a time, but I’ve already changed so many life-long eating habits because of your great advice. Thank you for making this important information available.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN November 13, 2019 at 7:03 am

      Thank you Madeline! I’m really happy to help you on this journey. I truly believe that food should taste good, and the Mediterranean diet makes it so easy to eat well because everything is so flavorful.

  • Reply Sandra Rothra September 25, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    We are just beginning to learn about this way of eating, orders from our doctor. I love your website. I have a problem, though. I am severely allergic to yeast. My husband has found a good whole-grain bread, but I cannot eat it. Some of the meals leave me still hungry. Can you suggest a substitute for the bread in your menus?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 26, 2019 at 5:42 am

      Hi Sandra, Most of the vegetable casseroles would go well with rice which is something you can make on the side in the place of bread. Also you can accompany with whole grain tortillas or unleavened pita bread.

  • Reply Peter G Coologeorgen August 8, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Elena, yia sou! It was highly recommended by my doctor to follow this meal plan Your website is fascinating and informative. I have found your shopping list but is there a meal plan which accompanies it?

  • Reply Brittany July 21, 2019 at 2:28 am

    Where do you typically get your Greek ingredients from (ex. ingredients for barley rusks)? Some people say U.S. grown flours aren’t as good for you due to pesticides and growing practices so just curious. And do you recommend a certain type of Greek yogurt?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 8, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Hi Brittany, I am currently based in Greece. There are companies that sell pesticide-free flours. For yogurt, I recommend looking at the ingredients: yogurt should only contain milk, and or cream and live cultures, no gelatin, stabilizers, sweeteners etc.

  • Reply RONNIE June 27, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve read only WONDERFUL things about the Mediterranean Diet and all the health benefits. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the food is wonderful.
    I had weight loss surgery almost 3 years ago and I’ve had trouble keeping it off. This might be the answer. I know you have the yield, but sometimes it is a range. How do I know how much of anything to eat?
    Thank you again!

  • Reply Cori June 16, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you for your helpful blog. I have tried and failed at the Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet, then went to keto which might have caused my heart issues. Now I am coming back to Mediterranean upon the advice of my cardiologist. I am glad to know that it includes plenty of olive oil. I have not seen other sources as good as your blog. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Sandra May 4, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    I am severely allergic to dairy. It is not a lactose allergy but a dairy allergy. Still, I want to try the Mediterranean diet. Any suggestions for how I can improvise when a dish usually calls for dairy?

  • Reply Elizabeth Porter April 14, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    I would love to print out your guide to starting out on a truly authentic Greek diet, but I don’t see a print button anywhere. Do you have an option for that? Thanks, so much!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 22, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      I don’t have one for this particular post, but will work on it. Thanks!

  • Reply Mike April 7, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    I would love to see a post on Greek herbal teas. I have searched but didn’t find anything.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Reply Blaire Ferry March 7, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    SO fantastically helpful!! I’m so thankful for these articles you wrote and posted because they are great! My Greek friend confirms they are accurate and good!

  • Reply Sandy February 2, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Elena,
    I have always had hard time putting foods together without a recipe. Could you suggest cookbooks that are specific to Mediterranean Meals? The market is saturated with them, and its hard to know which ones are the real deal. Thank you.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN February 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Sandy! There are links to authentic Mediterranean recipes within the above post. Also you can check the recipe index for recipes using the meal plan as a guide.

  • Reply Vicky R January 19, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Can I stay on this diet long term when I cannot tolerate yogurt and feta and I also do not like any type of legumes. I am put off by the pasty texture of legumes. My doctor recommended this diet to reduce cholesterol but I have concerns about not consuming enough calcium and protein for bone and muscle strength.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 19, 2019 at 7:40 am

      Hi Vicky, Yes of course! There are other sources of calcium that you can consume instead: sesame seeds and tahini, almonds, leafy green vegetables, figs, certain fish.

  • Reply Marilyn October 14, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Elena, What is the nutrient breakdown (%) of fats, protein and carbs for this diet? I have not seen any information on this. I would like to put this in MyFitnessPal.
    Thanks in advance. M.

  • Reply Mary Wood September 9, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks Elena … just what I needed… very nuch appreciated.

  • Reply Brooke August 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    When buying olives, what types and brands are best for the Mediterranean diet? Are any better than others?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 19, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Hi Brooke,
      Yes certain olives have a better nutrient profile than others based mainly on how they are processed. For example California style olives (black ones that are canned) have the lowest levels of nutrients). I explain in this article: https://www.olivetomato.com/greek-olives-healthier-california-spanish/

    • Reply Hasan August 11, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks a million, Elena! This website is one the most useful I’ve ever seen and your articles are really invaluable. I’ve searching the Internet for about a decade to find a healthy way of nutrition for myself and this one is the best I’ve ever found.
      You have written everything with great care and what you’ve taught me is really reasonable and at the same time reliable. A great philosophy can be felt under all of it.
      Now I eat and drink following all the guidelines you’ve provided on this site amd you are my guru for nutrition!
      I’m honestly greatful to you and appreciate your great work!
      Efkharisto poliiiiiiiiii

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