Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter, which is observed as a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving by Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and some Baptists. Fridays during the season of Lent include abstaining from eating meat. For many years, meatless Fridays took place for Catholics all year long. That once meant fish sticks or pancakes for dinner every Friday.
Meatless Fridays don’t have to be boring. There are many websites with vegetarian recipes, including Allrecipes. You can also find vegetarian cookbooks in bookstores and many retail stores. In addition, many recipes can be adapted to be meatless by replacing the meat with chunks of vegetables. Here are some ideas of meatless Friday menus.
Soup and Sandwiches
A big pot of vegetable soup is so easy to make, especially if you use a slow cooker. Start with canned tomato soup and add canned or fresh tomatoes. You can use canned or frozen vegetables, or cut fresh veggies into chunks or cubes. Season to taste with salt and pepper or use a salt substitute like Mrs. Dash for a healthier soup. If using fresh vegetables, cook on low for six to eight hours in a slow cooker or three to four hours on top of the stove. If using frozen or canned vegetables, cook on low for three to four hours in a slow cooker or about an hour on top of the stove. Grilled cheese sandwiches complete the meal.
Meatless Chili in a Flash
Use your favorite chili recipe but replace the meat with vegetables. Peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms are all good choices. Use your imagination and add any vegetables your family enjoys. Try a California blend of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, or a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
Breakfast for Dinner
Pancakes or waffles, biscuits, hash browns, and eggs can make a great dinner for the family. Eggs can be fried, scrambled, boiled, or made into omelettes with the addition of cheese and fresh chopped peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Nearly all kids love pancakes and waffles and they are simple to make using boxed mix or Bisquick. Canned biscuits and jelly make this meal ready in a snap on a busy Friday.
Pasta dinners don’t have to be plain old spaghetti and jar sauce. Make a vegetable lasagna using sliced eggplant and squash in place of ground meat. Toss pasta with cheese and sauteed vegetables for a fast dinner that the whole family will love. Make a pasta bake by mixing cooked pasta with fresh sliced vegetables and canned tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.
Veggie and Fruit Meal
Who says you have to have meat to make a meal complete? Make four or five of your family’s favorite vegetables and you have a dinner that will make your meatless Friday complete. Some possible choices include baked or mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes, green or lima beans, baby carrots, squash or zucchini, peas, broccoli, and mixed vegetables. Add fruit for dessert and you have an easy meal.
Be sure to begin your dinner on meatless Fridays with a special prayer. You might ask for blessings on those who are homeless, or families who don’t have enough to eat. Donate the money you don’t spend on meat to a soup kitchen to help feed those who are less fortunate. By doing this, you combine prayer, fasting, and almsgiving while teaching your children more about living their faith.