For the past few years, inspired by other families who do this, we have served meatless meals all though lent, Monday thru Friday. This has worked well for the whole family as a penance.
But especially for the cook. Me. Besides giving up meat–which is abundant and relatively cheap in our rural, cattle-farming area– I get to offer up the chore of coming up with lenten menus, and of enduring the reactions of my family on days when my choices were not sufficiently creative, or maybe a little too creative. Although most days, my husband and kids do pretty well disguising these reactions as part of their lenten penance.
Vegetarian cookbooks abound, so it’s not really difficult to come up with meatless recipes. The challenge is to come up with recipes that are cheap, tasty, and don’t take long to prepare. I’m not going to spend the price of a steak dinner, plus an hour slaving over the stove on that brie/endive/arrugula/tofu souffle with carmelized onion and papaya reduction sauce. Forget it.
Instead I cycle through a basic list of very easy and inexpensive dishes. Here is most of my list. All of these things can be looked up on the internet, and one or more versions found which can be made with common ingredients.
Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup
Cream of cauliflower soup
Broccoli cheese soup
beans and rice
fish fillets, baked potato and salad
pizza with vegetable toppings
meatless panini (cheese, mushrooms, peppers,onion, tomato)
spaghetti with red clam sauce
broccoli or spinach quiche (bisquick “Impossible” style is super easy)
tuna cheddar chowder
baked potato bar with variety of toppings
pancakes or waffles and eggs
tuna noodle casserole
bean burritos or tacos
salad bar (include protein source such as nuts, boiled eggs or chick peas)
Once I go through this list I just start over again. If any given recipe is not palatable to a picky kid–they know where the peanut butter and jelly are stored.
You’ll notice I go heavy on the soups. To help fill up tummies and keep the menfolk from thinking they are starving, I always have lots of bread on the side and this is usually something special- bakery french bread, homemade biscuits, or bread lightly toasted and seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and Italian seasonings.
Post this list on your fridge if you want to try meatless weekdays. And if you have a favorite lenten recipe cheap and easy) that you want to share, post it in the comments.