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In the Mediterranean, lunch has traditionally been the main meal of the day – it was an important meal that people returned home for and leisurely enjoyed with their families. Even though this tradition is less common in today’s busy world, there are so many ways to create a Mediterranean lunch that is satisfying and keeps you feeling good for the rest of your day!

A typical lunch in the Mediterranean varies by region somewhat – for instance, in Italy, it might be centered around a healthy pasta meal. In Greece, lunch might include a flavorful tomato, olive, cucumber, and feta salad, along with a small piece of grilled fish with lemon and olive oil. In Eastern Mediterranean countries, you might have falafel served alongside hummus and pita, salads, and sometimes a vegetable or meat kebab.

However, these examples have some common denominators, including healthy fats like olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and a source of healthy protein such as legumes or fish. There are an endless number of ways to incorporate these principles into a healthy and satisfying Mediterranean life, and at Oldways, we have several go-to formulas when it’s time to prepare lunch…

Nicoise Tuna Salad


Salads are wonderful because they’re so versatile! While Greek salads and salads with green bases of arugula, spinach, or kale are always great, there are so many ways to spice up this lunch option.

Consider pasta and whole grain salads if you’re looking for something to prep ahead of time for lunch – they taste even better when they have time to marinate in the dressing overnight. To make a delicious Mediterranean whole grain salad, mix half a cup of any whole grain in with your other ingredients. Roasted vegetables also make a great addition to a hearty whole grain salad!

Leftover pasta makes for a great base for salads, too – for a simple recipe, consider pairing pasta with chopped vegetables, greens, canned tuna and a quick vinaigrette dressing.

whole grain wrap with falafel and vegetables

Niçoise Tuna Salad

Chickpea Spinach Pasta Salad

Wraps or Stuffed Pitas

Wraps can be made with any kind of whole grain flat bread, including lavash and tortillas. A round of whole grain pita bread cut in half makes the perfect pocket to hold just about any filling.

Oldways Falafel Wraps

Sundried Tomato Pesto and White Bean Wrap


Homemade soups offer more taste and less sodium than store-bought ones. Make a batch on the weekend and freeze in single-serving portions. Before long you’ll have a “soup factory” in your freezer: just grab a container as you head out the door and warm your soup up in the microwave at work.

A table filled with Turkish Meze, small plates

Pasta e Fagioli

Lentil Soup

A Meze Platter

In Eastern Mediterranean countries, people often enjoy a meze plate — a collection of small bites. If you have a breakroom fridge at work, stock it with a container of olives, some hummus, and some cheese, and bring in fresh produce of your choice to make your own meze plates for lunch.

Dinner Leftovers

Luckily, many Mediterranean dinners pack well the next day, which is often the easiest way to ensure a satisfying, healthy lunch! Plan ahead and save some dinner from the night before – if you’re cooking for two, try making a recipe with four servings, and you’ll each have a portion for lunch the next day. If you’re cooking for more, try doubling your dinner recipes!

Finally, in addition to enjoying your meal with others when possible, keep in mind that lunch was (and still is, in some locations) followed by a mid-day nap, or siesta, which researchers think may be linked with lower blood pressure. So, if time allows, sharing food with loved ones and taking a short nap afterward are the perfect compliments to a delicious lunch!

For even more recipe inspiration and information about the Mediterranean Diet, check out our four-week meal plan book, Make Every Day Mediterranean.

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May Golden
Looking forward to hints and recipes

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