How to Stock your Mediterranean Pantry
By George Zikos
Updated March 30, 2023
If you’re trying to eat the Mediterranean diet, stocking your pantry with these Mediterranean pantry staples will make following the diet so much easier! For the busy person, you don’t want to have to search for these ingredients in the grocery store every time you make a new Mediterranean diet recipe. Supplying yourself with these pantry items allows you to focus on buying fresh produce, meat, and seafood. You will always be able to put a quick, healthy, delicious Mediterranean meal together if you have most of these pantry items.
I couldn’t live without olive oil, crushed tomatoes, and dried herbs and spices. I know I can always make a delicious sauce for my meat and vegetables to cook in if I have these ingredients on hand. While a lot of people living in the Mediterranean may spend almost their entire day gathering ingredients, preparing them, and cooking, many working people don’t have time to do this. Stocking your pantry with the below ingredients will save yourself so much time and make eating Mediterranean super easy.
Herbs and Spices:
Dried herbs and spices are essential for Mediterranean cooking. They not only add a lot of flavor and aroma to recipes, but they also bring healthy qualities that help with things like digestion, for example. Just adding some dried oregano to a recipe will help with digestion. Having most of these herbs and spices in your pantry, you’ll be able to cook recipes from all over the Mediterranean. I’ve given you some recipes to try out with these ingredients that highlight the specific herb or spice.
- Oregano – Greek Roasted Lamb and Potatoes
- Mint – Eggplant, Lentils, and Peppers cooked in Olive Oil (Turkish)
- Basil – Caprese Salad (Italy)
- Dill Weed – Balsamic Dill Yogurt Dressing
- Thyme – Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme (Spain)
- Rosemary – Rosemary and Olive Focaccia
- Sage – Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Sage
- Bay Leaves – Greek White Bean Soup with Orange and Olive Oil (Fasolada)
- Smoked Paprika – Oven-Fried Potatoes with Mediterranean Spice Blend
- Cumin – Armenian Losh Kebab (Lamb and Beef Burgers)
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon Apple Walnut Cake Baked with Olive Oil
- Cloves – Greek Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce with Chicken (Greek Kokkinisto)
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Turmeric – Chicken Tagine with Peppers and Olives (Dutch Oven)
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
Oil, Vinegar, and Cooking Wine:
Extra virgin olive oil is the main ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. Every Mediterranean country produces and cooks with olive oil. A high-quality extra virgin olive oil is very important if you want to get the most out of eating a Mediterranean diet. Good fresh olive oil still has some of the sediment in it that contains a lot of the anti-inflammatory properties that make extra virgin olive oil so powerful.
Besides using citrus like lemons and oranges for acid in Mediterranean cooking, different kinds of vinegar are used as well. I’ve included only the most common ones that you’ll need for most recipes. To me, a nice thick aged balsamic makes all the difference compared to a cheap runny one. If you don’t have access to good balsamic vinegar, the cheap one will still work.
The key to choosing a cooking wine is one that you’ll also enjoy drinking! You don’t need to spend a lot to get a bottle of good wine for cooking. Red wine and white wine are both used in Mediterranean recipes so it’s good to have both on hand.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Try ours here!
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar – Avocado Toast with Caramelized Balsamic Onions
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Red Wine – Mushrooms and Tomatoes Baked in Wine from Patmos
- White Wine – Chicken Leek Soup with White Wine (Crete)
Click Here to Download the Mediterranean Pantry List PDF!
Canned and Jarred Fruits and Vegetables:
Canned fruit and vegetables always come in handy when throwing together a quick Mediterranean meal. I use crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste all the time when I want to create a quick vegetarian dish. The simple combination of olive oil, crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, dried herbs, spices, and your favorite vegetables stewed for 20 minutes is about as quick and easy as it gets. Having these canned ingredients on hand will make putting a great meal together so much easier!
- Artichokes – Warm Red Bliss Potato Salad with Artichokes, Capers, and Lemony Dill Vinaigrette
- Capers – Salmon with Yogurt, Spinach, Lemon and Capers
- Olives – Baked Cod with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives
- Crushed Tomatoes – Instant Pot Tomato Sauce with Artichokes and Olives
- Tomato Sauce – Greek Meatballs with Tomato Sauce (Soutzoukakia)
- Tomato Paste
Beans and Legumes:
Because beans and legumes are such a large part of the Mediterranean diet, it’s good to have both canned and dried beans in your pantry. Canned beans are for when you don’t have time to soak your beans overnight. These beans and legumes listed are some of the main ones you’ll need for Mediterranean cooking.
- Lentils – Vegan Lentil “Meat” Sauce with Portobello Mushrooms
- Yellow Split Peas
- Navy Beans
- Dried Chickpeas – Slow Cooker Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Couscous
- Dried Black-eyed Peas – Instant Pot Black-eyed peas with Fresh Dill and Parsley
- Canned Chickpeas – Chicken and Chickpea Salad with Fresh Basil Dressing
- Canned Black-Eyed Peas – Black-Eyed Peas with Fresh Dill, Olive Oil, and Orange
- Canned Pinto Beans
- Canned Cannellini Beans – Dandelion, Cannellini, Potatoes, and Roasted Red Peppers
- Canned Black Beans
Eating Mediterranean, you will probably be introduced to new grains that you’ve never tried before. Maybe you’ve never even heard of them. Preparing these whole grains is very similar to preparing rice, so don’t be scared to cook them for the first time. If you’ve never tried bulgur wheat, I highly recommend serving it alongside your next dinner. It’s filling, nutritious, and pairs with most Mediterranean recipes.
- White rice – Greek Stuffed Peppers & Tomatoes
- Brown rice
- Couscous – Red Pepper and Cucumber Salad with Couscous and Chickpeas
- Bulgur Wheat – Tabouli
- Quinoa – Quinoa, Feta, and Pistachio-stuffed Acorn Squash
- Polenta – Beans and Greens over Polenta
I’ve only listed a few different pasta shapes here because there’s so many and everyone has their favorite. Quickly boiling some pasta, roasting some vegetables, and making a quick salad is a go-to meal for my family. It couldn’t be easier.
- Penne/Ziti – Ziti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplant
- Spaghetti – Spaghetti with Greek Olives
Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts are a great protein source. Whether it’s a handful thrown into your salad or blended up into pesto, nuts add healthy fat, flavor, and texture. My favorite Mediterranean diet recipe containing nuts is easily vegan pesto. Nuts are a daily snack in the Mediterranean. Sometimes you’re just looking for a quick healthy snack, and nuts are perfect for that.
- Pine Nuts – The Best Vegan Pesto
- Walnuts – Beet and Carrot Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese
- Almonds – Almond Encrusted Honey Mustard Almond
- Sesame seeds – Orange Sesame Cookies Baked with Olive Oil (Crete)
Healthy condiments used to create sauces are used in so many Mediterranean diet recipes it’s almost imperative to have the ingredients to make them always on hand. Tahini is made from sesame seeds and is a healthy fat. Honey has been used in Mediterranean cooking for thousands of years and is a healthy alternative to white sugar. Dijon adds so much flavor to salad dressings and acts as a thickening agent.
I am the only one in my family that is trying to eat a Mediterranean way of eating. My husband is a very picky eater and won’t try “new” things. I’ve been buying fresh vegetables, but I just can’t eat them fast enough before they go bad. I even tried cutting them up for meal prep, but it’s just not working for me because I waste more than I eat. And, I don’t have time to go to the grocery store daily because then I would be eating my meals too late. What do you suggest I do with veggies? Buy frozen or do some canning? If canning, which ones do you recommend? (Thanks in advance…love your YouTube videos).
Is the picture at the bottom Chania or Rethymnon?
Hello. I need to loss 50 and lower my cholesterol! I need better habits.
Hi Karen, Changing habits is the way to success. Also, do you know about our weight loss program? https://www.mediterraneanliving.com/mediterranean-diet-weight-loss/
Can the recipes that call for instant pot be prepared without one?
Yes, in almost all cases you can use a Dutch oven or tight covered pot. It might take a bit longer. Also, an instant pot is just a fancy pressure cooker so you could use that as well.
I don’t eat chicken. Will there be substitutes I can use for this protein?
Yes, if you are vegetarian, there are a lot of bean choices, if you eat fish, you can often substitute chicken for fish. For some recipes you can take the chicken right out. -Bill
I am gluten free will I still be able to participate in the lifestyle
Yes, you can totally eat Mediterranean gluten free. There are many naturally gluten free grains such as wild rice and quinoa plus there are so many awesome gluten free choices these day for pasta and bread that it is really easy.
Most of my weight is in my gut. Will this diet help?
Hi Mel, Yes, absolutely. I have lost 50 pounds mostly from my gut area. Check out our weight loss program and recipes.
I’m learning about the Mediterranean diet. I’m needing to lose about 100 pounds for my health. I lost about 50 pounds already. I’m trying hard to do this for health reasons.
Hello, I am excited to go through this journey. I just have a problem with the diet, I have allergic to dairy. I can eat eggs, but no dairy. It is not a lactose intolerance, it is anaphylactic shock. Please advise.
I have the same problem. No anaphylaxis, I am cutting out all dairy because of a medical condition.