One of the most remarkable aspects of Mediterranean diet is how cheap it can be to sustain you and your family while at the same time is probably the healthiest diet! Although it varies from country to country and obviously fluctuates depending on product availability, Mediterranean diet can usually be achieved on a relatively low budget using cheap produce.
The cheap side of Mediterranean Diet
Legumes and vegetables tend to be the cheapest products that can be acquired for a Mediterranean diet. Locals tend to favor fresh produce over canned or frozen products but those would do as well. The only thing you need to be careful of is the sodium content as well as whether they are stored with animal byproducts or any sauces. Stocking up on canned legumes can be a much cheaper solution to fresh produce and although it will influence the taste, the benefits of a Mediterranean diet are still there.
White meat such as chicken and fish usually tends to be cheap to acquire depending on your geographical location. When it comes to fish, choosing fish that can be usually found in the Mediterranean tend to be expensive but choosing other fish with a low fat content usually tend to do the trick. A little bit of research into what kind of species you like and are cheap is often required but usually that’s not hard to do. Cephalopods, such as squid or octopus, tend to vary in availability depending on the season and the place you live but usually cephalopods are quite cheap to acquire. Mediterranean locals tend to have fished fish instead of farmed but farmed fish are cheaper and in abundance so use them if wildlife fish are not available.
What is more, seasonal fruits tend to be cheap as well as whole wheat bread and pasta. A simple tomato with garlic sauce is cheap to make and with easily accessible materials. Keeping dried herbs and condiments will help you in adding taste to your Mediterranean foods.
The expensive Diet
Olive oil is essential to the diet but is usually expensive. An important distinction that should be made here in regards to Olive oil is that virgin olive oil is used for cooking and extra virgin is used in salads. Both kinds usually tend to cost a lot so if you are on a budget, using virgin olive oil on your salads is also okay. With a variety of brands out there it’s important to compare prices and opt for olive oil harvested in the Mediterranean for a more authentic experience. However, as that olive oil tends to be more expensive, choosing a cheaper brand isn’t usually an issue.
Red meat tends to be expensive everywhere. When it comes to red meat, the preference for which animal to consume varies depends on which part of the Mediterranean you are. Beef tends to be consumed more in Spain, Portugal and France while pork and lamb tends to be more predominant in Greece, Italy and Cyprus. Since red meat is rarely consumed, Mediterranean locals tend to prefer prime cuts with areas that are tender but also a little fatty. Although it’s expensive to buy, due to the infrequency, red meat will usually balance out in a budget without making a dent.
Game meat is also something that varies tremendously from region to region. Although venison is consumed across the Mediterranean it is not a staple part of the diet although it is a very healthy substitute to beef. If you prefer venison to beef, then certain recipes from mountainous regions of the Mediterranean may suit your budget and taste better. As for game birds, pheasants and quall are a favorite although they are considered delicacy instead of a staple. Wild boar is also favored in parts of Italy and Greece but again will probably be expensive. Most game meat tends to be expensive but if it’s wildly available and cheap where you live, it may be worth considering it as an alternative to traditional meat.
Cheese can be expensive as well for the people not living in Greece and Cyprus. Feta and Halloumi can be especially expensive, with other Italian cheeses following suit. The main reason why feta and halloumi tend to be expensive is because they have to be imported from Greece and Cyprus respectively. Feta cheese has now become quite widespread in the USA and may not be as expensive as it used to be but halloumi still is. Consider goat’s cheese as an alternative but we aware that it tends to be fattier and of a different texture.
Living on a budget and planning to adopt a Mediterranean diet isn’t hard when planned ahead and a little research is done. Due to the rarity of expensive food, Mediterranean diet can be perfect for a person with budget constraints and it is certainly healthy.