I've been following the Mediterranean diet for 4 years. Here are the 10 biggest ways I save money.
After years on the Mediterranean diet, my digestive system and energy levels have improved.
Between fresh fish and organic vegetables, the cost of the special plan can add up.
Cooking in batches, buying frozen fruits, and making homemade dressing can help save money.
Batch cook every week.
After being at work all day, the last thing I want to do is prepare a meal. So, I batch cook most of my meals for the week on a Sunday afternoon.
I decide on three or four delicious meals and cook them in huge portions. A wok often comes in handy for batch cooking – you can fry everything, let it simmer, and only have one pan to clean.
Invest in glass containers and Tupperware for frozen meals.
After a long day, you can defrost it in the microwave and have a home-cooked meal in minutes.
Buy canned fish instead of fresh fillets.
Canned fish looks unappealing compared to the fresh selection — but it's cheaper and lasts longer.
Buy a few tins of sardines and anchovies and pair them with sourdough bread for an easy lunch.
Try meat substitutes.
The Mediterranean diet cuts back on red meat, which is often more expensive.
I prefer to use chicken and turkey in my recipes because they're lighter and more affordable.
I also opt for meat substitutes to save a few extra cents with tofu, Quorn, and chickpeas. The trick is to marinate them overnight so they can absorb all the flavors thoroughly.
Of course, meat substitutes aren't for everyone, and I still enjoy tinned fish and white meat from time to time.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a lifesaver when you are on a budget.
Buy frozen peas, carrots, spinach, and even avocados to keep your freezer stocked. This also prevents forgotten produce from rotting in the back of your refrigerator.
I often buy frozen fruits for smoothies or defrost berries in the microwave for breakfast. They are much cheaper than fresh options and taste just as good.
Plan meals ahead of time.
Meal planning takes the stress out of cooking. Make a list of your favorite meals and add to it whenever you find a delicious new recipe.
For breakfast, I typically stick to the same thing every morning to make things simple. My go-to meal is frozen berries and granola that I cook in the microwave and top with agave syrup.
If you're organized, your lunch and dinner will be ready and waiting in the freezer.
I try to stick to meals with similar ingredients so I can buy items in bulk. I may purchase a whole chicken and use the breast for one meal and the thighs for another.
This method reduces food waste, saves money, and helps narrow down recipes for the week. Remember to use up what you have at home before buying more fresh produce.
Shop for local produce.
Farmers markets are my guilty pleasure. I adore looking through all of the delicious produce on a Sunday morning and finding hidden treasures.
My local source offers "wonky vegetable" boxes containing the misshapen greens from supermarket chains. It provides produce in all shapes, sizes, and colors — and encourages me to eat things I normally wouldn't.
Of course, you could grow your fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the garden. I live in an apartment building with no outdoor space, so this isn't an option for me.
Eggs aren't just for breakfast.
You should never underestimate the versatility of eggs.
Whip them into a frittata with Mediterranean-seasoned vegetables and feta cheese, crack them into a sizzling shakshuka, or even enjoy a simple egg on toast.
Eggs are cheap and a brilliant way to bulk up your meals.
Buy canned goods.
Chickpeas and mixed beans just aren't my thing. I cook with them for my family all the time and I wish I liked them.
Mixed beans, chickpeas, and chopped tomatoes are the best way to beef up a batch-cooked dinner. They add protein, nutrients, and different layers of texture.
You can even use beans as an alternative to meat in a vegetable chili or salad.
Make your own dressing.
Premade sauces sometimes contain weird ingredients and preservatives and can sometimes be pricier. Instead, buy some glass jars and fill them up with your own dressing.
I use my two-ingredient dressing, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar daily. You can add a few herbs, like sage and oregano, to elevate it.
Avoid ready-made Mediterranean meals.
The Mediterranean diet is very popular right now, and as a result, there are countless ready-made meals on the market.
I avoid anything labeled with Mediterranean-seasoned vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, and marinated meat.
It often means prepackaged food is covered in oregano, rosemary, or thyme with olive oil — all of which you probably have in your cupboard.
Save your money for fresh fish and meat instead.
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