Fresh Fridays 
May 17, 2013
Vol. V, No. 9               
Piggy bank with a hand dropping a coin into it overset on a faded background of Mediterranean foods. Text says,
Forget anything you might have heard about the Mediterranean Diet being expensive! The Mediterranean Diet can be affordable even for those of us on tight budgets. In fact, a recent study conducted in Rhode Island and published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found that following the Mediterranean Diet--including enjoying at least two vegetarian dinners a week--can help lower a family's grocery bill.

 

By centering meals on vegetables, legumes, and whole grains rather than expensive meats, the Mediterranean Diet offers great opportunities for delicious, healthy, and affordable meals. Here are some tips and recipes to inspire your own cooking without breaking the bank:

  • Love legumes. Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils, offer nutrient-dense flavor, fiber, and protein. They fit easily into any kind of diet, including vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. And they offer a low-fat or fat-free alternative to more expensive animal proteins. Dried beans, depending on where you live and what kind you buy, cost about $2.00 per pound. A single one-pound bag of dried beans is equivalent to three cans of cooked beans, which makes buying dried the most economical choice. However, even canned beans can be an affordable (and convenient) option at around $1.50 per can.   
     
  • Pick pasta. Pasta is certainly one of the most delicious, convenient, and widely available healthy foods. It satisfies children and adults alike, can be served hot or cold, comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and serves as a fantastic vehicle for other healthy foods. Depending on the type of pasta, it can be as little as $1 per pound. Look for whole-grain pastas for the best nutritional value.    
     
  • Store sales and smart storage save money. Many ingredients can be purchased when they are on sale at the supermarket and saved in the pantry or freezer until they are needed. Look for sales on fresh seafood to save money and increase the variety of fish you eat.
    • If you are going to use your fish within 1 to 2 days of purchase, store it on ice in the refrigerator. If you need it for later use, wrap it tightly in moisture-proof bags to prevent the fish from drying out and store it in the freezer. Defrost the fish in the refrigerator when you are ready to use it.
    • Store mussels, clams, and oysters in a shallow pan (without water) covered with moistened paper towels in the refrigerator. Use mussels and clams within 2-3 days and oysters within 7-10 days of purchase.
    • Cook live lobsters and crabs the day you buy them.   
       
  • Let a little bit go a long way. Sometimes a recipe just cries out for a premium ingredient: an imported cheese, a cured meat like prosciutto, a particular kind of olive or wine, for example. Fortunately in most cases, a little bit of a flavorful ingredient can be stretched a long way. Just a couple of ounces of feta cheese or a sprinkling of real Parmesan cheese adds an immense amount of flavor to a salad or pasta dish. And you can perk up any dish with just a few olives or slices of a cured meat. When possible, purchase just the amount you need for your recipe. But if the package size is larger than you need, you can store the remainder in the freezer or plan other meals using the same ingredient later in the week.
(Click on the titles or photos below to link to the recipes.)
Mediterranean Memory A Day.

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Follow the Oldways Table Blog this month for daily reflections on the Mediterranean region, lifestyle, and culinary traditions from chefs, cookbook authors, journalists, scientists, and other other friends of Oldways. 
Travel with Oldways.
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Spend a glorious week in and around Madrid, led by Oldways and Ronni Baer, Senior Curator of European Art at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Contact Abby Sloane at 617-896-4875 or asloane@oldwayspt.org for more information. 

Web links

Mediterranean Diet Survey

Our survey is still open! Help us understand why you love the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle by answering a few short questions. Complete the survey for a chance to win a copy of The Oldways Table.

Oldways Table

Tuna in cans or pouches is an economical way to add flavorful, lean protein to a meal. This recipe is easy on the family budget and quick to prepare.

Photo and recipe courtesy of the National Fisheries Institute   

Thanks to its bold flavor, a little bit of feta cheese goes a long way. Purchase just a small amount to go easy on your wallet, but still reap big flavor benefits.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Prsident Cheese

This family-friendly meal makes a great vegetarian option for a weeknight dinner.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Barilla  
Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        

   

         

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Whole Grain of the Month: Amaranth. Wholegrainscouncil.org.

Amaranth, although not a true cereal grain, is referred to as a pseudo-cereal. Its nutrient profile is similar to that of cereals. Amaranth and other pseudo-cereals have been staples in traditional diets for thousands of years. Learn more about amaranth and how to cook with it.

12 ways to use canned tuna