Mediterranean Diet, Mediterranean Diet 101, Nutrition Tips

The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

December 6, 2017

By Elena Paravantes, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Mediterranean Diet Expert
Authentic Mediterranean Diet Meal plan and menu

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:

The Complete Mediterranean Diet Food And Shopping List


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Mediterranean Diet

Want More Recipes and a 14-Day Menu Plan? The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners Offers That and More!


Images by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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81 Comments

  • 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 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 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 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 Terra Salazar December 8, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    I’m wondering what other kind of hard crunchy bread I could instead of Rusks?
    I can’t find them in my area. I tried making them and ended up w rocks. ☹️

    • Reply Monica Mocroft January 17, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      Hi there I ordered mine from Amazon

  • Reply Dede January 1, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    Can I make a smoothie using fruit, veggies, and yogurt?

  • Reply Luz Sanchez May 6, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    So I came across your webaite looking for family healthy meals, but mainly because I’m pre-diabetic. This is all new to me. I’m feesing a family of four that consists of a 2 year old with cows milk allergies, hubby, myself and a vegan. I would like to plan my meals out in advance. What do you recommend is my best way to start?

  • Reply Jessica July 14, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Hi,
    I’ve been reading this website and utilizing the recipes for the past few weeks. This is all new to us as we are used to the southern cooking that I grew up on here in Tennessee, but we’ve enjoyed every meal we’ve had so far from your site. I’m sort of getting in a rut with what to cook, though. I’ve printed out your meal guide, but do you have a plan that is more detailed with the specific meals for say a week or so? Or can you recommend a site that does? It seems silly I know, but not growing up on this type of cuisine it’s a little more difficult for me to create meals. Now, if you want some down-home southern cooking, I can do that lol, but we are trying to be more healthy. Thank you in advance!

  • Reply Richard Paul July 30, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I was using forks over knives meal plan but wasn’t happy with the food but I liked the convenience of receiving weekly meal plans with shopping list is there anything like that for a Mediterranean diet

  • Reply Jen August 8, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Elena,

    Since the Greeks are often vegan 200 days out of the year, and many people are cutting out meat and dairy (myself included), how can we make sure we get enough protein at each meal? I love the idea of lathera vegetables with bread but without the cheese it would be lacking in protein. Beans for one meal a day is okay but I don’t want them with every meal. Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you, I love your blog and can’t wait for your cookbook!

  • Reply Julia December 31, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    This is a good question, and hasn’t yet been answered.
    Please respond.

    Thanks!

  • Reply 21 DAY Mediterranean Diet Challenge DAY#1 | Olive Tomato January 4, 2021 at 11:43 am

    […] We are here to establish feel-good habits not to follow a strict diet plan. However, if you wish, you can access a 5-day mix and match Mediterranean diet plan by clicking here: http://www.olivetomato.com/authentic-mediterranean-diet-meal-plan […]

  • Reply Diane L Eldridge January 4, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    I am having a heck of a time finding whole milk greek yogurt. All I am able to find is not fat! Any ideas?

  • Reply Diane L Eldridge January 4, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Nevermind!!!! I found some! Thanks anyway!

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