How to do the Mediterranean diet on the cheap with an easy three day recipe plan
- December 24, 2020
The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as one of the healthiest out there.
High in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, it usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
The only downside to all that glorious fresh food is that it can be a little pricey, so we’ve created a meal plan that sticks to all the Mediterranean diet principles – but also works for your wallet.
The secret? Canned food.
Eating sustainable tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines in their tinned form rather than directly off the tinned counter is a delicious and affordable way to get those all-important heart-healthy omega-3s in – a key piece of the Mediterranean diet puzzle.
Picking up your beans and legumes in a tin can also save you a lot of time, in comparison to if you were soaking them from scratch – and the same goes for things like sundried tomatoes and olives, which are a cheap and filling way to get your healthy fats and nutrients in.
We’ve worked out a full three day meal plan for the Mediterranean diet below using Princes Fish,Princes Fruit and Napolina recipes, that involve a lot of canned food options and cheap, easy meals for on the go.
Breakfast: Salmon and avocado brunch
Avocado toast isn’t just popular – it also has lots of health benefits (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- ½ can Princes Red Salmon
- 1/2 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 slice seeded sourdough or crusty bread
- A few rocket leaves, to garnish (optional)
- Drain the can of salmon and remove any skin and bones, if wished. Break into chunks.
- Mash the avocado with a fork. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little salt and pepper.
- Toast the slices of bread and spread the avocado on top. Share the salmon chunks between them.
- Serve, sprinkled with a little extra black pepper, and garnished with rocket leaves, if wished.
Lunch: Mediterranean tuna salad
Tuna is a fairly cheap and easy way of getting nutrients and essential fats in (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- ½ a can Princes Tuna Chunks in Spring Water
- 1/4 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 25g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 baby cos lettuce, leaves torn into pieces
- 40g marinated feta cheese, drained
- 20g kalamata olives, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Put the red onion and cucumber into a salad bowl and add the red wine vinegar. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Add all the remaining ingredients apart from the tuna, tossing together to combine.
- Add the tuna to the salad, breaking it up into large chunks. Serve immediately.
Dinner: Chicken and cannellini bean salad
Opt for canned goods and get the most for your time and money (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
For the cannellini bean salad and lemon oil dressing:
- ½ can of Napolina Cannellini Beans, washed and drained
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced
- 25g carrot, finely diced
- 25g celery, finely diced
- 1/4 red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 rasher of pancetta, finely sliced
- 50ml Napolina Special Selection Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon mint, roughly chopped
- For the Pancetta wrapped chicken:
- 1 chicken breast
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped basil
- 3 rashers of pancetta
- 1 rosemary sprigs
- For the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 190°c / 170°c Fan / Gas Mark 5.
- Make a cut in the side of the chicken breast but don’t cut all the way through.
- Put the sun-dried tomatoes and basil between the chicken breast and fold back together.
- Wrap the chicken breast with 3 rashers of pancetta. Add a rosemary sprig, and a milling of pepper. Cover loosely in foil, then pop into the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
- For the Bean salad and dressing: Whilst the chicken is cooking, place the cannellini beans into a bowl, then add the red onion, carrot, celery and pancetta.
- In a separate dish, mix the chilli, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
- Pour over the cannellini bean mix and give all the ingredients a really good stir so that all the flavours coat the beans.
- Mix in the mint, parsley, salt and pepper, give one last stir and serve.
Breakfast: Smoothie bowl
Make sure there’s always some of your five a day in a meal (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- ¼ a can Princes Mango Slices with Juice, drained
- ½ a can Princes Peach Chunks with Juice, drained
- 100g soya-based yogurt
- 1/4can Princes Pineapple Chunks with Juice, drained
- 1/4 can Princes Mandarin Segments with Juice, drained
- 25g granola
- Put half the mango slices and half of the peach chunks into a blender with the yogurt and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use a hand-held stick blender.
- Share the smoothie between four wide bowls.
- Arrange the remaining fruit neatly over the surface, sprinkling the granola in between. Serve immediately, or cover and chill to serve within 1 hour.
Lunch: Mediterranean pasta salad
Vegetable pastas are great for on the go and can be eaten hot or cold (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- 75g Napolina Whole Wheat Fusilli
- 1/2 tablespoon Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ can of Napolina Spicy Bean Salad
- 12g Napolina Green Olives
- 1/2 tablespoon Napolina Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 spring onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 garlic clove, finely diced
- 1/4 yellow pepper, finely diced
- 75g cherry tomatoes
- Small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ lemon
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil, season with salt.
- Add 75g of wholewheat fusilli pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, finely dice 1/4 yellow pepper.
- Slice ½ a spring onion.
- Finely dice 1/4 clove of garlic. Finely chop a small handful of flat leaf parsley.
- Halve 75g of cherry tomatoes and 12g of green olives.
- Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water and transfer to a large serving dish.
- Add 1/4 can of spicy bean salad. Mix well, then add the tomatoes, yellow pepper, olives, spring onions and mix together.
- In a separate bowl combine 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, black pepper and the chopped garlic.
- Add the juice of 1/4 a lemon, then stir well.
- Add the chopped parsley to the pasta followed by the dressing and mix well. Serve with some more chopped parsley.
Dinner: Italian frittata
An omelette – but full to the brim with veg (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- 1/2 tablespoon Napolina Light in colour Olive oil
- ¼ large red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 50g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 25g ricotta cheese
- 30g Kalamata Olives, halved
- 2 eggs, whisked
- Small handful basil leaves, finely chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- Preheat the grill
- Chop the onion, 1/2 clove of garlic, and a handful of basil leaves.
- Halve 50g cherry tomatoes and 30g of olives.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon light in colour olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic, lightly frying for 10 minutes until softened.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and olives and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the basil leaves and 25g of ricotta cheese dotted in small spoonfuls around the cooked vegetables.
- Whisk the eggs and season with salt and pepper before pouring over the vegetables and ricotta. Keep on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes before placing the pan under the grill for a further 5 minutes to finish cooking until golden.
Breakfast: fruity topped bagels
It might look weird – but it tastes amazing (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- ¼ of a can Princes Pineapple Chunks with Juice
- ¼ of a can Princes Mandarin Segments with Juice
- ¼ of a can Princes Peach Chunks with Juice
- 2 bagels, split horizontally
- 50g low fat soft cheese
- 4 strawberries, slice
- 8 blueberries
- 4 raspberries
- Drain the cans of pineapple, mandarins and peaches thoroughly.
- Lightly toast the cut sides of the bagels. Spread the low fat soft cheese on top.
- Top a bagel 1 half with the pineapple and strawberries, 1 bagel half with the mandarin segments and blueberries and 2 bagel halves with the peach chunks and raspberries.
- Serve any excess fruit separately. Serve immediately.
Lunch: Prawn linguine
You could swap the prawns for tinned crab if you wanted to cut costs (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- 1/2 x tablespoons Napolina Olive Oil
- 50g large raw king prawns, peeled
- 1 x anchovy fillet, diced
- 1/2 x onion, chopped
- 1/2 x clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 fresh chilli, deseeded
- ¼ of a can Napolina Chopped Tomatoes
- 125g Napolina Bronze Die Linguine
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
- Small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan.
- Chop the onion, garlic, deseeded chilli and anchovies. Add to the pan and fry until softened.
- Stir in the can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the prawns and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until the prawns are pink. Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil, season with salt.
- Add 125g of linguine and boil for 10 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta reserving 1 ½ tablespoons of the cooking water, and add this and the pasta to the pan holding the sauce, tossing until all of the pasta is coated.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley before stirring together.
- Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.
Dinner: Make your own veggie pizza
Make it yourself with the kids – it’s got more nutrients than a Domino’s (Image: Molly Holt / Mirror Online)
- 2 teaspoons of Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 x Napolina Pizza Base
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons of Napolina Green Pesto/Tube of tomato puree
- Pack of mozzarella
- 6 sun dried tomatoes, halved
- 6 courgette slices
- ½ red onion, sliced into strips
- ¼ large yellow pepper, sliced into strips
- One fresh chilli
- Few basil leaves
- Drain the cannellini beans and pour into a bowl, mashing until smooth.
- Finely chop the garlic and add this to the bowl.
- Stir in 4 teaspoons of green pesto or tomato puree and the extra virgin olive oil and mix well.
- Spread a thin layer of bean mixture across the pizza base.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes, slice the courgette into discs and slice the yellow pepper and red onion into long strips. Place evenly all around the top of the pizza, then top with chilli, basil and mozzarella. We also added half a tin of Princes tuna.
- Put the pizza in a preheated oven at 220°c / Fan 200°c / Gas Mark 7 for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.