Best Foods I Buy After Following for 2 Years

  • I’ve been following the Mediterranean diet for two years and buy a lot of staples to keep in my pantry.
  • Olive oil, Greek yogurt, whole grains, and peanut butter are some of the ingredients I stock regularly.
  • Other essentials in the Mediterranean diet include foods rich in healthy fats and protein.

My grocery cart was full of sweetened, sugary snacks, but once I switched to the Mediterranean diet, it looked more like a vegetable patch full of color and lots of leaf.

The Mediterranean diet, which has been called the healthiest way to eat for five consecutive years, focuses on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and healthy fats. Fish, seafood, and eggs are the primary sources of protein (although you can also eat white meat like chicken). Dairy products, in the form of yogurt or cheese, appear on the menu several times a week.

In the two years I followed the Mediterranean diet, I cut out red and white meat (I still eat fish) and replaced processed purchases with fresh foods.

This is what I tend to buy when I go to the grocery store for all the needs of my Mediterranean diet:

Olive oil is an essential ingredient in just about everything Dish

Olive oil stacked on the shelf

Olive oil can be used in everything from soups to baked dishes.

Jennifer Barton

Olive oil is the main ingredient in everything I eat on

Mediterranean diet

. I use the least expensive cooking oil I can find, whether I’m frying fish, putting vegetable soup together, or baking.

I’ll also drizzle the finest olive oils (ideally when they’re on sale) and use to drizzle on leaves, whole grain salads, pasta dishes, seafood, and grilled vegetables.

I usually buy the largest size I can find for the best value because I use a lot of olive oil.

Greek yogurt adds the perfect amount of protein

Cans of Greek yogurt on the shelf in the grocery store

Greek yogurt adds the perfect amount of cream to any recipe.

Jennifer Barton

Although plain yogurt isn’t as juicy as its flavored counterpart, the low-sugar, high-protein Greek version is always my grocery store pick.

I like adding fruit to yogurt like blueberries and pomegranate seeds, sometimes with a little honey as a breakfast staple or dessert.

Greek yogurt is also great as a dip for savory dishes and can add creaminess to seasonings. It’s delicious mixed with olive oil, lemon, white wine vinegar, garlic, and some herbs like coriander. I recently discovered that you can add Greek yogurt to soups for an extra creamy texture.

Now that I’ve been eating Greek yogurt for so long, I don’t miss the fruity, high-sugar kind anymore.

Canned tuna is an affordable alternative to fresh fish

Fresh salmon fillet in a pack

Fresh fish adds protein to the Mediterranean diet.

Jennifer Barton

Fish is a huge part of the Med diet, it’s tasty and nutritious, but it can be pricey.

Fresh fish is indulgent, but with the right herbs, frozen or canned tuna also does the trick at a fraction of the cost.

I will eat tuna for lunch twice a week. I’m going to make a nicoise salad with spinach leaves, a couple of hard-boiled eggs, a tomato, some potatoes, and a sauce made with olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard. It’s very easy to put together and tastes just like the Nicoise salads you used to eat in French bistros.

I always stock canned sardines too. It’s perfect when grilled with lemon juice and served on whole wheat bread.

Onions and garlic are my favorite way to add flavor

Cups are always filled with red and white onions and leeks. I also keep green onions in the fridge.

I use onions in most of the meals I make: soups, stews, pasta, protein dishes, omelets, the list goes on.

Garlic is another essential ingredient. I’ve found that if you add more garlic to a dish you need less salt. Also, this is purely anecdotal, but I’m sure the more garlic I eat, the less sugar I crave.

Top my dishes with fresh and dried herbs

Fresh herbs sitting on shelves in a grocery store

Herbs add flavor and spice to my favorite meals.

Jennifer Barton

I often try to save money on food by looking for alternatives to frozen, canned, or, in the case of herbs, dry herbs instead of fresh.

I use a lot of dry herbs in my cooking, but I will always buy some fresh herbs as well. My taste buds are starting to get used to that extra kick of fresh dill in an omelette or sprinkle of cilantro in salads. My new favorite side dish is a combination of cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, and chickpeas.

The diet exposed me to a lot of herbs I had never taken before, and it’s one of my favorite things about it. For example, I sprinkled sumac, a purple-colored seasoning, on my homemade French fries that day and it was delicious.

Peanut butter is a delicious way to add healthy fats to smoothies and soups

A can of peanuts and other nut butters on the shelf

Peanut butter is my favorite healthy fat to add to a Mediterranean diet.

Jennifer Barton

One of the best things about the Med Diet is that all those “high fat” foods, like peanut butter, that you dream about but aren’t supposed to eat, are encouraged on this diet.

Peanut butter is one of my favorite snacks—I’ll take it off the spoon, mix it into smoothies, spread it on celery or apples, or spread it on whole-wheat pita bread. It’s delicious, and I always buy the biggest tub I can find.

Peanut butter adds great texture and flavor in savory recipes, too. English chef Hugh Fernley-Whittingstole has a great recipe for pumpkin soup with peanut butter. I use olive oil instead of butter to make it Mediterranean-friendly.

Tahini is a multi-use essential

Similar to yogurt, tahini, a sesame paste, has become a cupboard staple for me.

I add tahini to homemade hummus, mix it into soups, use it as a sauce, and spread it on whole wheat bread with a little falafel.

You can add some lemon juice and honey to make the tahini a marinade or use it for baking.

Pre-cooked whole grains like rice and quinoa save a lot of time in the kitchen

Whole grain packages

Whole grains are filling and add fiber.

Jennifer Barton

No trip to the grocery store is complete without some whole grains.

I tend to buy precooked packet mixes so that if I have a busy work week, I can still eat a healthy lunch simply by combining two packs.

I also make sure I have the cheaper versions that require cooking. I’ve found that adding whole grains to salads makes them more filling.

If you need inspiration beyond brown rice and couscous, try freekeh, an ancient grain rich in fiber and protein. I’ll mix it with halloumi cheese and tomatoes or serve it with roasted eggplant.

Canned legumes are great for hearty dinners

Canned beans stacked on top of each other

My pantry is always full of beans and legumes.

Jennifer Barton

Before starting the Med Diet, I used to have canned beans in my tank for months at a time.

I was going to buy them because I thought they were what I should eat, but I had no idea what to do with them. Now, I am happy to say that I mix chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and other legumes into my diet on a daily basis.

I always buy toppings because I know they’ll go quickly—if I’m hungry someday, adding hummus to a salad takes it from a light lunch to a stuffing meal. I love making bean stews and chili dishes for the average diet. I also buy canned tomatoes in bulk because I use them in everything from soups and pastas to sauces and stews.

My family loves to snack and cook it using a rainbow of fruits and vegetables

Orange and red peppers in the grocery store

Sweet peppers add nutrients and color to a Mediterranean diet.

Jennifer Barton

Vegetables are a big part of my diet.

I always have peas and spinach in the freezer for a quick side with any meal, but I like to have the freshest veggies when I head to the store because they are my family’s go-to snack. We eat vegetables, hummus, salads, and raw carrots all day long.

No trip to the grocery store is complete without buying a mix of peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

After being at home 24/7 throughout the pandemic, and incorporating fruit and vegetables into most meals, I now also buy a weekly box of malformed vegetables and fruits that might otherwise be wasted.

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