How do you follow the Mediterranean diet? This simple Mediterranean diet meal plan with expert tips and easy recipes is the best place to get started! Use it as a blueprint to plan your own meals and enjoy big Mediterranean flavors!
Named the world’s top diet several years in a row by US News and World Report and other expert organizations, the Mediterranean Diet is a heart-healthy, well-balanced way of eating that prioritizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins (particularly from fish), and good fats from things like extra virgin olive oil and nuts.
As someone who is a true daughter of the Mediterranean and who grew up living the Mediterranean lifestyle, I love sharing my experience and helping others learn about this delicious way of eating.
Please Note: the information shared here on The Mediterranean Dish is intended for your general knowledge. It is not intended as a medical diagnosis or advice. Please be sure to consult your healthcare provider before trying a new diet or a way of eating. Never disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment based on what you read.
First, let's ditch the word "diet"
While the Mediterranean diet is a plant-based or plant-heavy diet, there are no big restrictive rules, deprivation, or calorie counting as with other diets. Eating the Mediterranean way is about satiation, inclusion, and enjoying your favorite treats in moderation!
It is not a "diet" in the restrictive sense, but a a well-balanced eating pattern that you can customize and use day-to-day to make healthier choices that honor your body.
To help you get started, I have put together a Mediterranean diet meal plan with some tips and recipes. Use my meal plan as a blueprint to help you make sustainable food choices and infuse your mealtime with loads of flavor! And when you’re ready for more, check out my list of top Mediterranean diet recipes!
As always, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before trying a new diet or way of eating.
Table of contents
- First, let's ditch the word "diet"
- What do you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
- The Mediterranean pantry
- My quick meal planning guide
- 7 Days of Mediterranean meals
- Sample Mediterranean diet meal plan to download
- Subscribe to get my FREE weekly meal plans + new recipes
- More Mediterranean Diet resources
What do you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
Here are the quick basics of what you should be consuming when following the Mediterranean way of eating:
- Eat MORE plant-based foods (daily) – Vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, herbs, and good extra virgin olive oil. Aim to eat these daily.
- Eat SOME seafood and omega-3-rich foods (2 to 3 times per week) – Fish (preferably fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, but you can use white fish varieties as well), nuts, and seeds. If it works for you, try to eat these 2 to 3 times a week.
- Eat SOME poultry, eggs, and dairy (1 to 2 times per week).
- Eat LESS red meats and sweets. These should be enjoyed sparingly. And it’s important to remember that it is not just about the frequency but also the amount. When the craving hits for those baked meatballs or rack of lamb, we eat them, but the plate is still a lot more vegetable-focused. And yes, I always bake baklava and loukoumades for the holidays.
- Have a glass of red wine once in a while.
- Avoid highly processed foods.
The Mediterranean pantry
Meal planning begins with the pantry. You’ll find that the Mediterranean way of eating uses simple ingredients that are available in most grocery stores (and you may have some already on hand). I have a complete Mediterranean diet shopping list for you. But aside from stocking your fridge with vegetables and leafy greens, and your freezer with some good wild-caught fish and other seafood, here is a short list of essential pantry items that I keep on hand and use often in Mediterranean cooking:
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil (My favorite Mediterranean olive oils are available in our online shop)
- Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils (both dry and canned)
- Pastas and grains including rice (brown rice), quinoa, farro, barley, bulgur, and couscous.
- Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds. Nuts pack some good flavor and can add crunch and nutrition to your meals. They're also satisfying snacks! I keep my nuts and seeds in a tightly container in the freezer, they will last for a few months that way. For dried fruit, I often keep dates, raisins, and dried apricots.
- Dried herbs and spices. One of the joys of eating the Mediterranean way is that you can add layers of flavor using all-natural herbs and spices that elevate your meals while adding nutrition as well. I use all-natural or organic spices, you can find them all here in our online shop.
- Canned tomatoes. I use whole San Marzano tomatoes, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes often in Mediterranean cooking. Look for quality, low-sodium canned tomatoes.
- Other: Tahini, a rich and nutty paste made by grinding toasted sesame seeds. You'll find me using tahini in many ways from a simple sauce to drizzle on top of kebabs, to a protein-rich banana shake! All-natural honey for baking and for when we need something sweet.
My quick meal planning guide
As you plan your meals and dinners, keep in mind the basic principles of eating the Mediterranean way. Focus more on fresh vegetables, herbs, grains, legumes, and nuts, with some lean proteins such including fish and poultry. Generally, this is how I plan my Mediterranean dinners this for my family:
- Meatless dinners -2 to 3 times per week
- Fish and seafood dinners- 2 to 3 times per week
- Chicken or lean meat dinner -1 to 2 time per week
- Red meat- On occasion (and no more than 1 time per week)
- Leftovers- When possible to avoid waste (at least 1 time per week)
7 Days of Mediterranean meals
You’ll find hundreds of Mediterranean recipes here on our site, but I put together a sample Mediterranean diet meal plan with a few easy recipes to get you started:
- BREAKFAST: MEDITERRANEAN SAVORY BREAKFAST BOWLS
These Mediterranean breakfast bowls with eggs, hummus, and veggies are delicious and filling. They provide the perfect fuel to start your day! Use this recipe as a guide, but feel free to use what veggies you have on hand, and experiment with seasonings you love! Use plain hummus or another type of hummus you enjoy. Get the savory breakfast bowls recipe.
Tips: It's best to make your own homemade hummus a couple days ahead, but quality store-bought hummus is fine. You can make all the components of these breakfast bowls ahead of time and store them in the fridge in separate containers. You can also assemble the bowls fully and cover them tightly to store in the fridge for 3 days or so (don't drizzle olive oil until serving).
- LUNCH: FARRO SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND WALNUTS
This simple salad makes good use of a satisfying ancient grain combined with arugula, fresh veggies, walnuts and feta. Get the farro salad recipe.
Tips: You can cook the farro (or another grain of your choice) a day or two ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to make the salad. While plain farro will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, you should also budget some days for leftover farro salad once mixed. You can also make the Greek dressing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge in a tight-lid mason jar.
Leftovers and storage: Once mixed, leftover farro salad will keep for 2 to 3 days. Greek dressing can be kept in a tight-lid jar for up to 2 weeks, but I try to use mine within a week.
- DINNER: LEMON GARLIC SALMON + ROASTED BROCCOLI
Busy cooks will love this easy dinner that's ready in 30 minutes or less! Tender, perfectly flaky salmon is paired with crispy, caramelized broccoli for a light, satisfying meal. See the recipes for the lemon garlic salmon, and the roasted broccoli.
Tips: Once you remove salmon from the oven, if it still appears underdone, you can wrap the foil back over the top and let it rest for a few minutes. Don't leave it too long: Salmon can easily go from under-cooked to way over-cooked quickly. So how do you know if salmon is ready? When the salmon flakes easily with a fork, it's ready. If you like, you can use an instant read thermometer to check the fish for doneness. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, which should be measured at the thickest part of the fillet.
Leftovers and storage: Store salmon and broccoli in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Baked salmon will keep for about 3 days, while roasted broccoli will keep for up to 5 days.
- BREAKFAST: GREEK YOGURT WITH HOMEMADE GRANOLA
Perfectly crunchy, chewy nutritious homemade granola with olive oil, tahini, walnuts and dried fruit. This easy granola recipe with a Mediterranean twist is loaded with flavor, and goes so well with creamy Greek yogurt! Get the granola recipe.
Leftovers and Storage: Once the granola has fully cooled after baking, you can store it in a tight-lid jar or container for up to 2 weeks.
- LUNCH: GREEK SALMON SALAD (USING LEFTOVER SALMON FROM MONDAY)
Greek Salmon Salad is the perfect way to use up any leftover salmon! Paired with crunchy veggies and a bright vinaigrette, this is a tasty, wholesome lunch packed with protein and omega-3s! Use salmon straight out of the fridge: No need to reheat! See the full Greek salmon salad recipe.
Tips: Make the vinaigrette a day in advance, and store in the refrigerator in a container with a tight lid. Simply shake or stir right before use.
Leftovers and storage: This recipe should finish up any leftover salmon from Monday. Store any leftover vegetables and greens (undressed) in an airtight container in the fridge. Dress the greens again when you're ready to eat them.
- DINNER: RIBOLLITA (TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP)
Ribollita is a hearty, satisfying Tuscan soup. You'll love the rich Italian flavors from some herbs and a little parmesan cheese magic! Be sure to have some day-old crusty bread on hand to add to the soup! Get the ribollita recipe.
Tips: Because this dish will also be lunch on Wednesday, cook the soup with the beans and vegetables according to the recipe but hold off on the bread. When you're ready to serve it, reboil the soup (remember, ribollita means reboiled). While the soup is reboiling, toast the bread in the oven with a bit of extra virgin olive oil (step #1 of the recipe). Add some of the bread to the soup and allow it a bit of time to absorb the liquid and soften. Always keep a bit of the toasted bread to garnish; it gives great texture.
- BREAKFAST: MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE HUMMUS BREAKFAST TOAST
A savory breakfast toast is the perfect way to start the day! Loaded with hummus, veggies and other Mediterranean favorites, it is a healthy, nutritious, and super satisfying breakfast...not to mention DELICIOUS! Get the breakfast toast recipe.
Tips: To get the most out of your breakfast toast, be sure to use a hearty and healthy bread like an organic whole grain or whole wheat bread. One slice is often enough if you're eating quality nutrition-packed bread. Don't want to use bread? Try sweet potato toasts as an alternative.
You can also prepare this breakfast ahead of time! To make these breakfast toasts on the fly any given morning, just have your choice of veggies and other toppings prepped and refrigerated in air-tight glass containers. I like to store mine in small separate containers.
This is also a very versatile breakfast option. You can change up your breakfast toasts by choosing a different hummus (roasted red pepper hummus; garlic hummus etc.) Use other veggies you might have on hand. Raw or even leftover roasted veggies will work. And if you need more protein, add a boiled egg or shredded rotisserie chicken on top (heck, I've even done leftover chicken shawarma before.)
- LUNCH: RIBOLLITA LEFTOVERS
Tips: To reheat and serve ribollita leftovers, bring the soup to a boil on the stove. While the soup is reboiling, toast the bread in the oven with a bit of extra virgin olive oil (step #1 of the recipe). Add some of the bread to the soup and allow it a bit of time to absorb the liquid and soften. Garnish with some of the toasted bread for texture.
- DINNER: BAKED LEMON CHICKEN + TOASTED ORZO + A BIG GREEK SALAD
Baked lemon chicken is loaded with Mediterranean flavors including lemon, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. Pair it with quick and easy toasted orzo and a peppery, bright arugula salad with avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, and shallots. A delicious Mediterranean Diet dinner that will wow your tastebuds! Get the lemon chicken recipe, toasted orzo, and arugula salad.
Tips: For best flavor, allow the chicken legs to marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours, or 30 minutes at room temperature. And to save time, you can absolutely work ahead (one night in advance) on the chicken legs. One of the things I like to do is prepare the chicken and allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight, that way, it's ready to bake after a long work-day. It helps to take it out of the fridge for a bit before baking so it's not too cold and so it cooks more evenly. You can also make the dressing up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the fridge in a closed mason jar. Give the dressing a whisk before adding to the arugula salad.
Leftovers and storage: If you have leftovers, let the chicken cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. If you want to freeze the cooked chicken drumsticks, place them in a freezer bag and put them in for up to 6 months. Thaw before re-heating. Leftover orzo will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat on the stove.
- BREAKFAST: ZA'ATAR EGGS WITH WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
Kick fried eggs up a notch by adding a generous sprinkle of za'atar, the quintessential Middle Eastern blend of wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and sumac! Served with some whole wheat bread, this is a breakfast that will keep you going until lunch! See the za'atar eggs recipe.
Tips: Try adding a few chopped cherry tomatoes or a bit of feta for extra flavor. And if you're wondering how long to fry an egg, know that it will take about 2 to 2 ½ minutes for runny yolk and 3 minutes for medium yolk. If you like to fry your eggs until the yolk hardens, you'll want to cover the skillet for a couple minutes and watch until the yolk is cooked to your liking.
- LUNCH: LEFTOVERS
This is a great opportunity to look for and use up any leftovers from previous days that you may have forgotten about. All the meals from Monday to Wednesday will still be fine to eat, as long as they were stored appropriately in the refrigerator.
- DINNER: GRILLED SCALLOPS WITH MEDITERRANEAN TOMATO SALSA + SMALL SIDE OF LEMON RICE
Restaurant-quality grilled scallops are tender, buttery, and packed with flavor. The best part? They take just 5 minutes! Serve them with a small side of bright Greek lemon rice for a simple yet sophisticated Mediterranean Diet dinner! Get the recipes for grilled scallops and lemon rice.
Tips: Wash the rice thoroughly before cooking. Rinse it until the water runs clear. This helps prevent sticky, gluey rice.
Leftovers and storage: Scallops are best eaten immediately, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 days. Do not reheat them as they will become rubbery. Rice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add the rice to a pot on the stove over low heat and add a little water to steam it.
- BREAKFAST: GREEK YOGURT WITH FRESH FRUIT AND A DRIZZLE OF MY FAVORITE HONEY
A quick and easy breakfast! Greek yogurt makes this breakfast filling, while fresh fruit adds flavor! I like to use both sweet and tart fruit. Some ideas include: sliced banana, sliced apple, your favorite berries, pomegranate seeds, oranges, kiwi, etc. This is a great way to use up any fruit you have in your kitchen! A light drizzle of honey is the perfect finishing touch.
- LUNCH: EASY MEDITERRANEAN TUNA SALAD SANDWICHES
After a long week, these easy-as-can-be tuna salad sandwiches are just the kind of no-fuss lunch you need! This light, healthy tuna salad is prepared Mediterranean-style with crunchy veggies, including celery, cucumbers, and onions, along with fresh herbs, and a zesty Dijon dressing. Spoon it into warm pita pockets for loaded tuna pita, or use whatever whole wheat bread you have on hand to make sandwiches. Get the tuna salad recipe.
Tips: Chop up the fresh ingredients and refrigerate in a tight-lid containers, but do not mix with the tuna and dressing until ½ hour before serving.
Leftovers and storage: You can refrigerate this Mediterranean tuna salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- DINNER: EGGPLANT ROLLATINI + LENTIL SALAD + SOME CRUSTY BREAD
This meatless dinner is packed with flavor, vegetables, and nutritious goodness! Vegetarian eggplant rollatini uses a delicious part-skim ricotta cheese filling with basil pesto and parsley, then baked to perfection in a bubbly red sauce! Because it's so light, it pairs perfectly with the hefty Mediterranean-style lentil salad, which contains spinach, crunchy vegetables, and a zippy lime dressing. Add your favorite crusty bread if you like to complete this hearty dinner. Get the eggplant rollatini recipe and the lentil salad recipe.
Tips: You can prepare eggplant rollatini in advance and freeze it before baking. Or you can fully bake it and freeze any leftovers. When ready to use, simply reheat frozen rollatini, covered, in the oven at 350 degrees F. You can also cook the lentils the night before to save some time.
Leftovers and storage: Leftover eggplant rollatini will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To reheat, bake it at 350 degrees F for a few minutes. You can also freeze it and reheat it in the oven from frozen. Lentil salad will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- BRUNCH: VEGETABLE FRITTATA + SMALL SIDE OF SMASHED POTATOES
This simple vegetable frittata is perfectly balanced with the flavors of earthy roasted vegetables, rich extra virgin olive oil, and sharp feta cheese. It’s a comforting vegetarian meal made even more cozy with the addition of crispy smashed potatoes with garlic and za'atar. Get the vegetable frittata recipe and the smashed potatoes recipe.
Tips: Frittata is perfectly cooked when the eggs are set in the center and no longer jiggly, and the edges are golden-brown. If the eggs are set, pull the frittata from the oven and let it stand 5 minutes before slicing. If you notice the frittata is still too wet or runny in the center, bake for a few more minutes, watching carefully.
Leftovers and storage: Vegetable frittata is best finished right away as eggs do not reheat very well. But if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, place in the oven (covered) at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. This is the most effective way to keep some of the frittata's original texture. Leftover smashed potatoes (which will keep for about 5 days) can also be reheated in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- DINNER: GARLIC MUSHROOM PASTA + SHIRAZI SALAD
This is hands-down the best rich and velvety mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, and a little parmesan! The luxurious pasta dish goes really well with the simple, bright Shirazi salad, a Persian cucumber and tomato salad loaded with herbs. See the mushroom pasta recipe and the Shirazi salad recipe.
Tips: Use whole wheat pasta, as it is Mediterranean Diet-friendly. For vegan mushroom pasta, omit the butter and use a vegan parmesan option or omit the cheese. And for thick, creamy, silky pasta sauce, don't throw away all the pasta water! A small amount of the starchy pasta water enhances acts as a thickener. Save a cup of pasta water. (But you'll only need ½ to ¾ cup pasta water for the sauce.) For flavorful Shirazi salad, dice the vegetables up very small or chopped. This helps them quickly absorb flavor. If you like your salads more on the crunchy side, don't dress the salad until you're ready to serve. For a juicier, more flavorful salad, go ahead and add the dressing. Sumac is optional in this recipe, but I highly recommend adding it if you can. It adds depth and a pleasant tang.
- BRUNCH: MEZZE PLATTER + PITA BREAD
Mezze takes the party platter to a whole new level of delicious. And it's not hard to put together the perfect Mediterranean mezze brunch platter with dips like hummus or baba ganoush, along with fresh veggies and other Mediterranean favorites. I love serving mezze with some homemade pita bread. Get the full mezze platter recipe, and homemade pita recipe.
Tips: Place the eggplant slices on some paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let the eggplants "sweat out" any bitterness for 20 minutes or so. Pat dry.
Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- DINNER: SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN + ITALIAN ROASTED VEGETABLES
This spatchcock chicken (butterflied chicken) recipe yields the most juicy, succulent chicken with perfectly crispy skin. Served with delicious, bold Italian roasted vegetables, it's the perfect Sunday chicken dinner! Get the spatchcock chicken recipe and the roasted vegetables recipe.
Tips: For crispy, succulent chicken, salt your bird in advance. This gives the salt plenty of time to do its quiet work of flavoring and tenderizing. Air-chilling the chicken after salting is another important step. Chill chicken in the fridge (preferably overnight) uncovered and with the skin side up. If you don't have time to salt the chicken and refrigerate overnight, do this as early as possible the day of (even 2 hours or so before cooking will help). Pat the chicken dry with paper towel before continuing on. For the roasted vegetables, be sure to cut the potatoes into quarters or diced to reduce their cooking time (if you aren't using baby potatoes).
Sample Mediterranean diet meal plan to download
I've created a quick at-a-glance calendar for this sample meal plan. When you download the plan by clicking the button below, you will be able to click on the recipe names so that you can see each recipe in full.
Want to learn more about the Mediterranean diet? Don't miss our Q & A with Kelly LeBlanc, a registered dietician and director of nutrition for Oldaways, a food and nutrition nonprofit. So many of your questions answered!
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