Meatless weekdays all Lent Long

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

Potato soup

minestrone soup

beans and rice

tuna melts

fish fillets, baked potato and salad

pizza with vegetable toppings

meatless panini (cheese, mushrooms, peppers,onion, tomato)

spinach lasagna

past primavera

spaghetti with red clam sauce

broccoli or spinach quiche (bisquick “Impossible” style is super easy)

tuna cheddar chowder

lentil soup

pea soup

baked potato bar with variety of toppings

pancakes or waffles and eggs

tuna noodle casserole

cheese quesadillas

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.



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Daria Sockey is a freelance writer from western Pennsylvania. Her articles have appeared in many Catholic publications. She authored several of the original Ignatius Press Faith and Life catechisms in the 1980s, and more recently wrote five study guides for saints' lives DVDs distributed by Ignatius Press. She now writes regularly for the newly revamped Catholic Digest. Her newest book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, will be published by Servant Books this spring. Feel Free to email her at [email protected]

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