So, you’re ready to start a Mediterranean-style diet but have no idea what to buy at the grocery store? Look no further. I’ve got your list of Mediterranean diet pantry staples right here.
The Mediterranean diet consists largely of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil along with moderate amounts of legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood, cheese, and other dairy. Foods that are also included but eaten in smaller amounts during the week are meats (including red meat) and sweets.
Here, I’ll go over a complete(ish) list of items you can purchase to keep a well-stocked Mediterranean diet pantry. While I tried my best to include every possible pantry item, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add or take away from it, depending on your dietary needs and preferences. And of course, availability of items may be different depending on where you are located.
Kali orexi! – (which means “good appetite” in Greek)
For more detailed information on what the Mediterranean diet is, I highly recommend: Mediterranean Diet For Beginners (Get Started Today!)
You can also get recipe ideas for using these pantry staples by visiting the RECIPES PAGE.
Table of Contents
Fruits and Vegetables
This section includes canned, jarred, and dried fruits and vegetables. While it’s important to get many of your fruits and vegetables in their fresh, unprocessed form ( i.e. in the produce section), there are also great pantry options you can use on occasion or in cooking specific dishes.
Canned foods may also be cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables, especially if they are not in season. I know how important it is to be budget-friendly, so please do not feel like you are not following a Mediterranean diet if you are unable to eat fresh foods as often as you’d like. Some of the most delicious meals are prepared using pantry items.
Expert Tip: Always look for low-sodium or no-salt-added versions if you can find them. If not, rinse them under water to reduce the sodium content by 9-23%. For fruits, look for ones canned in their own juice, NOT syrups.
- Potatoes (any variety- sweet, red-skinned, etc.)
- Onions (any variety)
- Artichoke hearts (plain or marinated)
- Roasted red peppers
- Olives (any variety- Kalamata, Mediterranean blend, etc.)
- Giardiniera (mix of pickled vegetables)
- Canned tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed, etc.)
- Sun-dried tomatoes (dried or marinated)
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Green beans
- Apple sauce
Grains and Pasta
Whole grains are preferred over refined grains in a Mediterranean diet. They provide more nutrients, including fiber, since the grain is intact. These nutrient-dense options provide sustained energy, regulate blood sugar levels, and support digestion. Incorporate these versatile grains into your meals as the base for salads, side dishes, or even as a stuffing for vegetables.
Expert Tip: On ingredient lists, look for minimal additives. You should be familiar with (and be able to pronounce) all ingredients listed. Look for 100% whole grain choices when buying breads, cereals, and crackers.
- 100% whole grain bread, bread crumbs, and crackers
- Oats (any whole grain variety- steel-cut, old-fashion, Irish oats, etc.)
- Brown or white rice
- Bulgur wheat
- Whole wheat or regular semolina pasta (any shape)
- Gluten-free pastas made with legumes are also available for those with gluten allergies
Great recipes using grains: Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal (With Bonus Oats Review) and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide a nutrient-dense crunch to any Mediterranean-inspired meal. They are high in heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, and many vitamin and minerals. Specific nuts and seeds contain essential omega-3 fatty acids as well, like walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
They are great for snacking on, sprinkling onto salads, into pancakes or cereals, and in homemade granola recipes. These Mediterranean diet pantry staples not only enhance the flavor of your dishes but also offer a plethora of health benefits.
Expert Tip: Choose low-sodium and unsalted nut and seed varieties if they are available.
- Pine nuts
- Nut butters (peanut, almond, etc.)
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Bean and Legumes
Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are fundamental components of the Mediterranean diet. These legumes are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. They promote satiety, help maintain stable blood sugar levels, and contribute to heart health. Keep canned and dried legumes, such as kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas, in your pantry for a quick and convenient protein boost in soups, stews, salads, and dips like hummus.
Expert Tip: These items are budget-friendly and can be purchased canned or dried. Again, look for low sodium options if they are available.
- Pinto beans
- Cannellini beans
- Great Northern beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Black beans
- Navy beans
- Fava beans
- Kidney beans
- Split peas (any variety)
- Lentils (any variety)
Great recipe using beans: Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf
Canned Meat and Fish
Another essential part of any Mediterranean diet pantry list are healthy protein sources. Fish and seafood are eaten at last twice a week on the Mediterranean diet. Although, depending on where you live, fresh fish and seafood options may be limited or very expensive.
Canned salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and anchovies are all great pantry choices. These fatty fish are heart-healthy, providing marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, that are beneficial to cardiovascular and brain health.
Expert Tip: Look for sustainably-sourced, wild-caught varieties. Can be canned, jarred, or packed on water, olive oil, or tomato sauce. Many of these fish are also low in mercury which is also healthier.
- White meat chicken
Great recipe using canned fish: Sardine Pizza With Spinach and Tomato
Oils and Vinegars
No Mediterranean diet pantry is complete without a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. This golden elixir is not only a staple ingredient but also a key source of healthy fats. Packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, olive oil offers a multitude of health benefits, including promoting heart health, reducing inflammation, and improving digestion.
And vinegars are perfect for adding some acidity to many Mediterranean dishes by using them in sauces or drizzling over meats and veggies.
Expert Tip: Use it for cooking, dressings, and drizzles to infuse your dishes with the distinctive Mediterranean flavor. I also love a good olive oil for mixing with spices and using it as a dipping oil. YUM! For some high-quality olive oil recommendations, the North American Olive Oil Association provides a list of olive oils certified as meeting International Olive Council (IOC) standards.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Canola oil
- Avocado oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- White wine vinegar
Great recipe using olive oil: Lemon Olive Oil Cake (Light & Healthy) – includes some specific olive oil recommendations as well!
Herbs and Spices
The Mediterranean diet is renowned for its vibrant flavors, thanks to the abundant use of herbs and spices. Stock your Mediterranean diet pantry with essentials like these and mealtime will always be exciting. These aromatic additions not only enhance the taste of your meals but also provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Experiment with different combinations to create unique flavor profiles and make your dishes shine.
Expert Tip: Dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs when using them in cooking. As a general rule, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Another benefit is that dried herbs and spices tend to keep very well, unlike most fresh herbs and spices.
- Dill weed
- Bay leaves
- Smoked paprika
- Cayenne pepper
- Aleppo pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Garlic (minced or powder)
- Onion powder
- Zaatar spice
Condiments and Sauces
When making some of your delicious Mediterranean diet recipes, certain condiments and sauces may be necessary. These include common sweeteners like honey and date syrup, condiments used to make sauces, and pre-made sauces and dips. Some of these will especially come in handy if you are pressed for time and unable to make sauces from scratch.
- Agave nectar
- Date syrup
- Maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- Tahini (also listed under “Nuts and Seeds”)
- Romesco sauce
- Pesto sauce
- Salsa verde and other salsas
- Aioli (many varieties available)
- Tapenade (many varieties available)
Great recipe using maple syrup: Velvety Smooth Tahini Salad Dressing
Wine and Cooking Wine
Alcohol is allowed in the Mediterranean diet; for drinking in moderation and with meals. And also used in small amounts in some Mediterranean-style recipes. Red wine is preferred for drinking due to its high amount of a polyphenol-rich antioxidant, resveratrol. However, white and Rosé wines also have some resveratrol (though much less) and pair well with certain fish and poultry dishes.
Expert Tip: Remember to drink wine only with meals and spread your intake out throughout the week. Keep portions moderate and drink responsibly. One serving of wine is 5 ounces, which is slightly over half a cup. As a general rule, the deeper the wine color, the more resveratrol it contains.
- Red wines (Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, etc.)
- White wines (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc.)
- Rosé wines or blushes (White Zinfandel, Grenache rosé, Tempranillo rosé, etc.)
Free Mediterranean Diet Pantry Staples PDF
Click the link below to get your Mediterranean diet pantry staples list. It’s FREE, no strings attached.
And that, my friend, should be a great start to sustaining your Mediterranean way of eating.
Keeping your pantry stocked with these Mediterranean diet pantry staples is essential to your success and continuing this healthy lifestyle choice. You will be better able to create wholesome, flavorful meals that promote health and well-being.
From the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil to the protein-packed legumes and the nutrient-dense nuts and seeds, each pantry staple plays a vital role in supporting your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. So, embrace the Mediterranean diet, load up your shelves with these pantry staples, and embark on a culinary adventure filled with nourishing and delicious meals. Your body and taste buds will thank you!
Don’t forget to visit the recipes page to get some Mediterranean diet meal ideas! And for another diet that’s proven to prevent and improve heart health, check out “The DASH Diet for Beginners (Everything You Need To Know)“.
📋 Did I miss anything? Leave me a comment below if I forgot anything essential to a stocking a Mediterranean diet pantry!
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 14 years of experience. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and is a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.