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11 Cheap Recipes From the Med That Are Delicious and Easy to Make

Written By: Byron | January 10, 2024

When you’re looking for budget-friendly recipes that are delicious and easy to make, Mediterranean recipes offer a plethora of options. That’s because so many of the dishes are based around a few simple but key ingredients — usually focusing on freshness or the use of spices to boost flavor. 

These are our favorite 11 cheap recipes that are good for the pocket and don’t skimp on flavor. We have chosen our top 11 recipes, including recipes suitable for vegans or vegetarians. In this article, we will also give you an overview of the main ingredients, and how long each takes to make so you can choose your favorites and get cooking. 

Without further ado, here are our favorite 11 Cheap Recipes From the Med That Are Delicious and Easy to Make.

A large Mediterranean eggplant casserole is served into a white bowl


Mediterranean Eggplant Casserole

  • Serving: Main for 6
  • Ready in: 1 hour
  • Recipe type: One-pot, casserole, Dairy-free, Gluten-free
  • Calories per serving: 471 kcal

This Mediterranean eggplant casserole is vegan and ready in 1 hour. The bulk of the dish is made up of eggplants, tomatoes, and chickpeas. It’s spiced with some cumin, paprika, and fresh herbs.

a large pan of white bean stew sits with a few bay leaves on top.


Spanish White Bean Stew

  • Serving: Main for 4
  • Ready in: Under 1 hour
  • Recipe type: Vegan, High in fiber, High in protein, Low in calories
  • Calories per serving: 203 kcal

Beans are always going to feature on a budget eats list. Luckily, they’re as healthy as they are inexpensive. This Spanish white bean stew is vegan and ready in 40 minutes. As well as white beans, it features onion, red bell pepper (capsicum), and dried herbs and spices.

A large baking sheet loaded with cooked Poor Man's potatoes.


Poor Man’s Potatoes

  • Serving: Main for 4, or Side for 6
  • Ready in: 55 minutes
  • Recipe type: Vegan, One-pot, sheet pan recipe
  • Calories per serving: 293 kcal

With a name like poor man’s potatoes this is an obvious choice for our budget meals list, but such a goody. Great as a vegan side or main it’s ready in 55 minutes. This dish is basically roasted potatoes with some other veg thrown in and herbs and spices to jazz it up.

A large pan of oven-baked rice


Budget-Friendly Oven-Baked Rice

  • Serving: Main for 6
  • Ready in: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Recipe type: Vegan, budget-friendly, Gluten-Free
  • Calories per serving: 410 kcal

Another one sure to make this list is the fantastic super-budget Spanish oven-baked rice is vegan and ready in 1 hour, 20 mins. We used tinned veg where they were cheaper that way (e.g. artichoke hearts) and to keep the prep time down. It also has white broad beans and dried spices.

A large bowl of Mediterranean Lentil and Spinach stew


Mediterranean Lentil and Spinach Stew

  • Serving: Main for 4-6
  • Ready in: 30 minutes
  • Recipe type: Vegan, Budget-Friendly, Casserole, 30 Minute Recipe
  • Calories per serving: 294 kcal

This healthy Mediterranean lentil and spinach stew is vegan and ready in 30 minutes. The name gives most of the fun away but this is a really easy one-pot recipe that’s great for weeknight dinners or meal prep.

A large pan of 15-minute Mediterraean spiced mince


15-Minute Mediterranean Spiced Mince 

  • Serving: Main for 6
  • Ready in: 15 minutes
  • Recipe type: One-Pot, Budget-Friendly, Low in fat, High in Protein
  • Calories per serving: 126 kcal

When time and money are of the essence, this 15-minute Mediterranean spiced mince recipe does the trick. Choose beef or pork mince, which you’ll add some onion, garlic, and some warming spices to and it’s ready in 15 minutes.  Pair it with rice, tacos, or your choice of grain. 

a small earthenware bowl of chickpea stew


Chickpea Stew (Potaje de Garbanzos)

  • Serving: Main for 6
  • Ready in: Under 1 hour
  • Recipe type: One-Pot, Budget-Friendly, Vegan, Gluten-Free, 
  • Calories per serving: 695 kcal

This chickpea stew (potaje de garbanzos) recipe is vegan and ready in under 1 hour. Hearty and nutritious, it’s also a one-pot recipe and requires little prep (if you choose to use store-bought stock).


a tray of baked chicken thighs


Baked Mediterranean Chicken Thighs

  • Serving: Main for 4
  • Ready in: 45 minutes
  • Recipe type: One-Pot, Budget-Friendly, Low in Fat, High Protein, High in Fiber
  • Calories per serving: 371 kcal

Our most popular recipe ever, baked Mediterranean chicken thighs is budget-friendly, easy-to-make, and delicious. Ready in 45 minutes, just 5 minutes of that is prep time — and you add all the ingredients together in a baking dish, mix, and then bake.

garlic soup sits in an ornamental white bowl beside a few slices of golden toasted bread


Spanish Garlic Soup

  • Serving: Soup for 4
  • Ready in: 30 minutes
  • Recipe type: Budget-Friendly, Vegetarian
  • Calories per serving: 457 kcal

This Spanish garlic soup recipe is vegetarian because it contains eggs and is ready in 30 minutes. Garlic-lovers only need consider cooking this — as the name suggests, this soup has plenty of garlic, it also has toasted bread in the soup, eggs, olive oil, sherry vinegar, smoked Spanish paprika, and vegetable stock.

a large pot of smoky butter bean stew with sweet potato and kale


Smoky Butter Bean Stew with Sweet Potato

  • Serving: Main for 4-6
  • Ready in: Under 45 minutes
  • Recipe type: Budget-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan, One-Pot, Gluten-Free
  • Calories per serving: 191 kcal

This Smoky butter bean stew with sweet potato and kale is vegan and ready in under 45 minutes. It’s healthy and light on the wallet and waistline, but still delicious. Traditionally, it’s often cooked with some chorizo, so if you want to add meat for someone in your family, go for it. 

a few small bowls spinach with chickpeas sits beside some fresh parlsey and lemon wedges.


Spinach with Chickpeas

  • Serving: Tapas for 6
  • Ready in: Under 45 minutes
  • Recipe type: Budget-Friendly, Vegan, One-Pot, 6-Ingredients 
  • Calories per serving: 489 kcal

The last on our list, but by no means the least tasty, is spinach with chickpeas – espinacas con garbanzos. It’s vegan and ready in 45 minutes. While this is never the prettiest meal, it is delicious and we’ve even convinced the most fastidious meat eaters to try and love it. If you have kids, tell them it has ketchup (not much), but it can help sway them to eat their greens and beans!

Tips on How to Eat and Shop for Cheap

A few simple tips and strategies on how to shop for cheap food and stretch your money further. 

Shop Seasonal

Seasonal fruit and veg are always in good supply making them cheaper to buy. Always be mindful of what is in season and use recipes that cater to those ingredients. A great example is pumpkins, which are considered an autumn veg with harvesting around October (in the Northern Hemisphere). This is when it is the best time to buy and cook with pumpkin as it’s dirt cheap! 

Shop Local

In recent years, there has been a strong revival in the ‘shop local’ strategy. This is because shipping and transport costs are not only bad for the environment, they also add costs to food that can easily be avoided if you shop locally. 

Local fresh food stores are a great way to support a local business and also save a few bucks at the same time. Remember that produce grown and sold locally will also be fresher! 

Use Tinned and Dried Foods

Another great way to save money on your grocery bill is to include recipes that use tinned or canned goods. Pantry items such as beans and legumes can always be bought in the can or jar and are inexpensive. Another advantage is many tinned goods are pre-prepared and ready for cooking so they also save you time. 

Keep a small supply of tinned chickpeas, beans, and lentils and pop them into any stew to help bulk up the recipe for just a few cents. 

Bulk Purchase and Meal Prepping

These two tips go hand in hand and can save you plenty on a weekly shop. Buying ingredients in bulk is an easy way to save money on items, and meal prepping is a great way to make large batches of meals that can be heated and ready in minutes during the busy mid-week meal times. 

Large Supermarket chains such as Walmart and CostCo are excellent options for bulk buys.

Stews and large casseroles are fantastic recipe options to feed the whole family on a budget as they can be made in bulk and will last a week. Many of the recipes above can easily be frozen at stored and thawed when needed.

Cheap Recipes and Budget Meals: Conclusion.

Good, flavorsome, and nutritious food does not need to be expensive, and as Spanish cooking can show, many of these recipes are made with simple and easy-to-find ingredients. Beans and lentils feature in many budget recipes, and of course, have been used for centuries in authentic Spanish cooking. Their merits are noteworthy, as they are healthy, loaded with nutrients, and inexpensive. 

Cooking with seasonal vegetables will also help the purse strings, and this list has a diverse selection of recipes with various seasonal ingredients. 

You may have noticed there are no seafood or meat dishes on this list. That’s because we understand that these products are not always so cheap, depending on country and even city. Feel free to check out these seafood recipes and meat recipes for inspiration and to see what suits your taste, budget, and family.