Tips On Creating a Balanced Meal Plan

Now that you understand the components of the Mediterranean plate, let’s talk about turning these ingredients into a well-balanced meal plan. Here are some pointers to keep in my that we’ve been discussing:

  • Start with Vegetables: Always begin your meal planning by choosing the vegetables. This ensures that they remain the focus of your meals. For example, plan a mixed vegetable grill, and then think about what grains and proteins can accompany it.
  • Variety of Grains: Experiment with different whole grains each week until you find the ones that speak to you. If you’re used to white rice or pasta, try substituting with brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or experiment with grains like bulgur or couscous.
  • Choose Lean Proteins: Plan to have fish at least twice a week, and incorporate plant-based proteins regularly (some experts suggest a mediterranean vegetarian meal once a week). Chicken and turkey are good options for other days. Remember, red meat is limited in the Mediterranean diet, enjoyed occasionally rather than as a staple.
  • Healthy Fats are Your Friends: Don’t shy away from olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These not only add flavor but also help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. A drizzle of olive oil on your salad or a handful of almonds as a snack are perfect ways to incorporate them into your diet.
  • Dairy with Discretion: When including dairy, choose options like Greek yogurt or small portions of cheese. These can be used as toppings, in cooking, or as part of a snack.

Stay Hydrated

Keep water as your main drink throughout the day. If you drink alcohol, a glass of red wine can be included occasionally, ideally only with meals. Herbal teas are a great option for non-water beverages, offering both hydration and a variety of flavors.

Sample Meal Ideas

To help you get started, here a sample menu that embrace the Mediterranean diet principles (make sure to check out the recipes ebook available for free to download with the course!).

Sample Daily Meal Plan 1:

  • Breakfast: Start the day off with a vegetable omelet and a slice of whole grain toast.
  • Lunch: I’m thinking a whole-grain wrap filled with grilled chicken, lots of vegetables, and hummus.
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon with a side of roasted Mediterranean vegetables and a small serving of farro or brown rice. Maybe a little spice of some heat?
  • Snacks: Handful of nuts or carrot sticks with hummus. In a rush? Apple it is then.

Sample Daily Meal Plan 2:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt topped with mixed berries, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey.
  • Lunch: Lentil salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Baked eggplant and zucchini layered with marinara sauce and mozzarella, served with a side of whole wheat garlic bread.
  • Snacks: A small bowl of mixed olives or a piece of fresh fruit, like a pear or an orange.

Sample Daily Meal Plan 3:

  • Breakfast: Whole grain porridge with sliced almonds, cinnamon, and fresh figs.
  • Lunch: Quinoa tabbouleh with fresh parsley, mint, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Dinner: Grilled shrimp skewers with a variety of bell peppers, served alongside a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Snacks: A few slices of watermelon or a small serving of tzatziki with cucumber slices.

These meal ideas incorporate the key principles of the Mediterranean diet, focusing on vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and moderate dairy. They also offer a variety of flavors and nutrients, aligning with the diet’s emphasis on enjoying diverse, wholesome foods.