The Mediterranean diet gets its inspiration from the agriculture, lifestyles, and culinary traditions found in cultures abutting the Meiterranean Sea. These traditional diets are high in vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fruit, and some other carbohydrates; whole grains, potatoes, and bread are all considered alright in this lifestyle. There is less of a focus on red meat and more seafood. Chicken, eggs, cheese, and other dairy should be eaten in moderation.
Mediterranean diet cookbooks for meal prep will typically strive to give a background on the diet, give tips for how to practice it, and provide a bevy of recipes for home chefs to try out. However, these books can be written from different perspectives and may accommodate readers’ goals very differently. Because these cookbooks have such a diversity in types of recipes and approaches, it can be hard to decide which one is the best one to purchase. Here is what we found out after taking a look at some of the more popular texts.
Best Mediterranean Cookbooks
- Best Overall: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day
- Best For Weight Loss: The Mediterranean Diet Weight Loss Solution: The 28-Day Kickstart Plan for Lasting Weight Loss
- Best Bargain: The Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: The Complete Guide
- Best For Quick Recipes: The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health
- Widest Range of Recipes: The Mediterranean Table: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living on the Mediterranean Diet
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This cookbook has a comprehensive collection of over 500 recipes, with each chapter focused on a different food group. There are sections on pastas, grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, seafood, and more. In the latter part of this book is an alphabetical index of nutritional information, divided by food items. This has thorough information about the different food items and the dishes they are a part of.
This book is a thorough collection of recipes covering all sorts of different styles of dishes and food groups. With loads of valuable nutritional information and several instances of step-by-step photographic instructions, this book has enough to really dive into for a long period of time.
This text not only includes colored photos, but there are photographs of various steps that may be confusing or problematic. With some step-by-step photographic instructions littered throughout the book, it is easy to follow along most recipes.
Who Should Buy The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day
- Anyone who wants a very large number of available recipes.
- Those who value knowing the nutritional information for easier macronutrient counting.
- People who appreciate pictures to help reader follow recipes more easily.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day
- Anyone on a tighter budget.
- Those who seek a more advanced recipes for “fancier” dishes.
When all was said and done in our rankings, we thought The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook had the best combination of volume of recipes and transparency of nutritional information to make it the most malleable to a strength athlete’s diet. The only real blemishes on this cookbook come on its pricetag, which isn’t great, but the other issue of having mostly simple dishes could be seen by some as an upside rather than a downside. If you are looking for a cookbook with a lot of flexible recipes, this is a solid choice.
Best For Weight Loss
Not only does this text give over 100 healthy recipes to help in aiding weight loss, but it provides a work-out plan. The author provides a helpful cadence for working out, resting for recovery, and clean eating.
This book has four week-long meal plans for readers to use to help usher in a Mediterranean diet as part of their lifestyle. Each week has its own shopping list for added convenience.
This text by Julene Stassou provides a concrete plan for losing weight while enjoying the tastes of the Mediterranean. With a 28 day plan and exercise suggestions, this book is meant to help people make and follow a plan to achieve their fitness goals.
An aspect of cooking that is often overlooked by cookbooks (and home chefs alike) are leftovers. This book provides suggestions on what leftovers can be used for, either in a new dish or how to reheat or prepare to be eaten on their own.
Who Should Buy The Mediterranean Diet Weight Loss Solution: The 28-Day Kickstart Plan for Lasting Weight Loss
- Anyone who wants an exercise guide paired with their book of recipes.
- People who want to make a diet of mostly Mediterranean food their main diet.
- Folks who need ideas for how to cook leftovers.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Mediterranean Diet Weight Loss Solution: The 28-Day Kickstart Plan for Lasting Weight Loss
- Anyone who needs to follow a stricter macro plan.
- Those who are on a tighter budget.
This was an excellent choice for those who are looking to make the Mediterranean foods the bulk of their diet. This naturally lends itself to a fat loss strategy as meals can be on the lower end calorically barring the use of too much oil. The dangers here are the inconsistent portions, but that has the secret benefit of being able to make multiple meals in one cooking session due to leftovers. We assumed that someone with the goal of weight loss would be able to check their portions as that takes less time than cooking. This pseudo meal prep for multiple meals was viewed as a nice feature for those looking to cut weight.
The thing that knocked this book from being out best overall was the price of the requested ingredients. This will cost a pricier weekly grocery bill which we don’t think everyone will be able to maintain. If you have the coin, then this is a great pick. For those who need to keep groceries within their budget, then look elsewhere.
An element of this book that is quite easy to appreciate is the abundance of ingredients that most chefs will already have in their pantries. While many cookbooks try to spice up their recipes with exotic ingredients, this author strives to make delicious dishes using commonly found ingredients to promote digestive health.
While the Mediterranean diet may be new to some readers, most of the dishes will seem quite familiar. Some cookbooks try to lean on interesting or newly created dishes, but this one focuses on helping readers master the classics.
This cookbook helps those who are interested in the Mediterranean diet learn how to cook classic dishes using simple and easy to find ingredients. This book provides an affordable pathway into a new dietary habit for those looking for it.
This book provides a great platform from which to vault into a habit of cooking in the Mediterranean lifestyle. For the cost of a comic book, readers can start a new healthy direction.
Who Should Buy The Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: The Complete Guide
- Anyone who likes simpler recipes.
- Those who like more classic Mediterranean dishes.
- Folks who want to spend very little on their cookbooks.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Mediterranean Diet for Beginners: The Complete Guide
- Those who want a high volume of recipes.
While the recipes in this cookbook are rather easy to complete and taste nice, it is disappointing that there are only 40 of them. Most cookbooks, regardless of dietary style, will have more. This book has great information on how to start a Mediterranean diet and what some of the benefits are. However, it doesn’t have a comprehensive explainer and may disappoint those hoping to really study up on the lifestyle. At the end of the day, there is no denying the attractiveness of the price tag and the recipes held up to make our top picks.
Best For Quick Recipes
The author has made a point to make sure each recipe in this book can be completed in 30 minutes or less. This is perfect for those who are trying to fit a new lifestyle into an already busy schedule. This book has labels on recipes that may trigger allergic reactions to some of the ingredients. Many of the recipes in the book cater to allergy restrictions, so it casts a wide net for potential readership.
The cookbook by Serena Rall is a dietician’s take on the healthy lifestyle that can be derived from Mediterranean foods and recipes. She includes lots of information throughout, such alternatives for certain food items that are hard to find or allergy labels to help people properly prepare and accommodate for food allergies.
Each recipe in this cookbook has a tip — either some extra guidance for how to prepare the recipe, or suggestions on how to shop for food items in the recipe. Often there are tips for food alternatives in case an item may cause allergies or is hard to find.
Who Should Buy The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health
- Anyone who wants recipes with fast cook times.
- Those who need allergy labels to protect themselves.
- People who like alternative options for each recipe to match their preferences.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health
- People who find pictures to be helpful when reading recipes.
- Anyone trying to maintain a low carb diet such as the carnivore diet or ketogenic diet.
The format of the book is simple and easy to follow, but it would have been nice to have seen some pictures of finished dishes. This helps some chefs make sure they have followed the steps properly. This isn’t terrible or anything, but its noticeable compared to other cookbooks on the market.
Those on a mission to avoid carbohydrates or keep carbs low may have to use some discernment when deciding which recipes to make. Some of the recipes and even whole sections — like the pizza section — have lots of carbohydrates.
Widest Range of Recipes
This cookbook does a great job of exploring foods from around the Mediterranean Sea and putting a spotlight on the cultures as well. Through photos and written explanations, readers will learn about the culinary histories of many Mediterranean-adjacent countries. Each dish is labeled with its origin so you can get a taste of the entire region.
While many Mediterranean cookbooks will focus on Greek and Italian food, this text features delicious recipes from Spain and North Africa as well. Compared to most cookbooks out there, this is a unique trait that was very welcomed while determining our top picks.
This cookbook is an informative exploration of the Mediterranean diet. The book features cuisines from all over the region and even explains the differences in diet between the various countries. The diversity in cuisine is top notch in this cookbook.
Alphabetical index. A feature that is commonly missing in cookbooks, the index in this one is thorough and very helpful in trying to find specific recipes. Because the book is divided into food categories, it is sometimes useful to scour the index for a specific dish.
Who Should Buy The Mediterranean Table: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living on the Mediterranean Diet
- Anyone looking for Mediterranean recipes beyond just Greek cuisine — primarily the inclusion of North African cuisines.
- Those who appreciate the added organization of an alphabetical index.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Mediterranean Table: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living on the Mediterranean Diet
- People who don’t have an extensive spice rack.
- Folks who want heavier or more decadent dishes.
The author often calls for different spices to be used in recipes, but these spices are not always easy to find or affordable. Not only can it be a hassle to locate these items, but users may end up with a surplus of odd spices that they may use infrequently. This book has lots of great soups, sandwiches, appetizers, and snacks, but the entrees are rather lacking. The recipes may be staying in line with Mediterranean cuisine, but users may need to be creative when trying to construct a satisfying routine for themselves.
[Related: 3 Crockpot Recipes to Help You Save Money On Protein]
How We Decided Our Picks
Mediterranean cookbooks can be of great help to people hoping to change their lifestyles into a healthier and perhaps even more affordable version. These texts can encourage healthier decisions in the kitchen and possibly inspire readers to eat out less. Though most cookbooks have some commonalities, they usually have some stark differences as well that may fulfill the needs of certain readers variably than others.
We discounted any cookbooks that involved food that was heavier or unsuitable for strength athletes. It didn’t make sense to explain that a book of recipes that will make someone feel heavy before or after a deadlift or squat session. When we examined the rest of the cookbooks and used the following to distinguish between them:
Though some customers may simply be looking for a collection of recipes that follow the Mediterranean diet, others may be looking for a more thorough explanation of the diet. Several cookbooks have informational addendums and long introductions that provide background on the Mediterranean diet. Depending on the perspective of the author, these can range from scientific, cultural, or inspirational.
Of great help in some cookbooks are the tables and charts that have conversion information and nutritional information. These tables and charts, typically at the end of the book, house information that may otherwise clutter the pages of the recipes. These informational tables can be helpful beyond the specific recipes mentioned in the cookbooks and can be used as a handy reference in the kitchen.
[Related: Vertical Diet, Intermittent Fasting, and Paleo: How Are They Different?]
Number of Recipes
A big difference in many cookbooks is the sheer amount of recipes they feature. Cookbooks can have as many as hundreds of recipes; these books can keep a home chef busy for years. When there are that many recipes in a cookbook, especially one dedicated to a certain diet or lifestyle, it is important to make sure the foods being cooked all complement each other and the lifestyle being followed. For example, regardless of whether you have a huge appetite or a small appetite, just because pizzas are in a cookbook doesn’t mean they should be for dinner every night.
Cookbooks without many recipes can sometimes help readers in a different way; short but concise and manageable meal plans can be the very thing someone needs to launch them into a new lifestyle. A cookbook with hundreds of recipes may just simply overwhelm a cook without much experience. The more recipes there are, often times the more complicated and complex they can get. Readers should find a healthy balance between finding a cookbook that has recipes that interest them and recipes they can confidently accomplish.
One of the most useful practices when cooking is knowing what food items can be subbed out for another. Some people have food allergies while others just don’t like certain foods. With a Mediterranean diet, it is common for some of the foods suggested in a recipe to be hard to come by; they might only be found at specialty food stores and even then cost a pretty penny.
Several of the cookbooks did a great job of providing alternatives to certain foods. Sometimes these appeared on the page of the recipes themselves, other times in an informative chart elsewhere in the book. This is especially important when considering food allergies; if someone is allergic to nuts, it may be a cumbersome process trying to figure out an alternative every time. It is much easier if this information is laid out in plain language already.
Not sure which Mediterranean diet cookbook is right for you? To help inform your decision, here are some tips and suggestions:
- If you are a person who really enjoys vegetables, nuts, grains, fruit, and seafood, then this diet will not be that harsh of an adjustment for you. It will be more of a matter of getting used to cooking these dishes and learning new tricks and recipes to add variety to your diet.
- For those who are new to this diet, it may take some getting used to. Red meats do not feature very prominently at all, and eggs, chicken, and cheese not as frequently as in other diets. Those that are having trouble adjusting may try gradually incorporating one or two meals a week first rather than diving in full bore.
- The Mediterranean diet may feature foods that are common in the Mediterranean, but some of the recipes may end up costing more than a typical grocery bill. When performing a meal plan and shopping in advance for a week or so, the total cost may be higher than people are comfortable paying.
If any of this seems overwhelming, cookbooks for beginners tend to have simpler recipes, and simpler recipes tend to have more basic ingredients. These cookbooks will have lots of ingredients that might already live in home pantries or can easily (and cheaply) be obtained at a local grocery store.
There are a ton of cookbooks on the market that range from intense focus on one style of cuisine, like Greek, and a others that hit a wide range from multiple continents in the Mediterranean region. If you’re a strength athlete or bodybuilder looking to move toward a healthier diet to pair with your supplement regime, picking up a cookbook of Mediterranean recipes can give you a big jumpstart on which healthy foods to buy and how to prepare them.