Meatless Meals and Lenten Inspirations to Help you Jump into the 40 Days

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Meatless Recipes for Lent

Tomorrow my toddler will be in awe of the fact that he finally gets something at the end of the line at church.

He’s used to going in the communion line and watching everyone else receive, but as a 2-year-old, that’s the extent of his level of participation. We’ll find out if he’s "in-awe-excited" or "in-awe-don’t-touch-my-forehead-with-that-stuff-scared," both of which we’ve seen in the past in our older two kids. Smile 

Our 5-year-old has already stated emphatically that she doesn’t want the ashes on her head. "Are they hot?" she whimpered nervously. Ash Wednesday Mass could be interesting.

We Catholics are called to eat simply on Ash Wednesday, with one normal-sized meal and two small additions that should not equal a full meal together (fasting), and we also abstain from meat that day and all Fridays of Lent. We offer up our hunger and our (tiny) sacrifice as a prayer, allowing God to work through our hunger and living out Paul’s call to "pray constantly" in 1 Thessalonians.

Simple Salmon Patties Recipe

We unite ourselves to Christ’s Cross, and although our 40 days of fasting (from whatever we choose), prayer and almsgiving pale in comparison to the starkness of Christ’s 40 days in the desert or the glory of the 40 days between His Resurrections and Ascension, we pray that in some small way, we are able to enter into His life in this way.

It’s my favorite time of year, spiritually, and I always grow internally from the discipline of Lent and oftentimes even develop lasting habits. It’s also a wonderful meal planning challenge, making sure we have a meatless Friday each week – and for us, half of Lent will be grain-free and the other half 100% gluten-free as well for an added bonus challenge. Winking smile 

For your own Friday meal planning enjoyment, may I present:

Meatless Recipes at Kitchen Stewardship

Versatile Cream of Vegetable Soup

Cream of Vegetable Soup with Salmon Patties (top photo, newly updated recipe including gluten-free and grain-free options) – The best part about this meal? You can start it an hour before dinner, no thawing, no soaking involved! 

Garlic Leek Soup with Poached Egg (24) (475x317)

Garlic Leek Soup with Egg – As long as you’re okay with chicken broth on Friday, this soup is very simple but very satisfying. (While many soups are great with veggie broth, I’m not sure this one would be.)

easy healthy Lenten fish recipe

Creamy Halibut with Caramelized Onions – a simple yet elegant presentation for any white fish, quick enough to whip up even for lunch. The post includes instructions for how to cook any kind of fish any style!

Chickpea Wraps - Meatless Meal from Kitchen Stewardship

Chickpea Wraps – a great recipe to get beans into people who might not love beans.

three bean soup (4)

 Three Bean Soup – Kid-friendly because all the beans are blended, another good choice for dipping grilled cheese, found only in The Everything Beans Book.

Blended Green Soup with Asparagus

Blended Green Soup (Asparagus, Zucchini, etc.) – a starter soup perfect for Lent or anytime to help kids eat more veggies. (Cute faces optional)

Homemade Salsa Soup (29) (475x317)

Salsa Soup – another "starter soup" that could make a meal with cheese quesadillas or a hearty salad and bread.


 Black Bean Soup – I can’t tell you how often I’ve been making this lately, probably because it doesn’t really call for any special ingredients and is easy to double. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.


 Pasta with White (Bean) Sauce – this is the free download from The Everything Beans Book. It’s a nice pasta-based change to plain old meatless sauce and gets some protein in you on a Friday.

potato vegetable pancakes latkes (9) (475x356)

Potato Pancakes – make them with shredded raw potatoes or leftover mashed potatoes; serve with scrambled eggs.

  • Hearty Lentil Stew – with or without the slow cooker (this year without for us), this is always our Ash Wednesday/Good Friday meal. For grain-free, I cut the rice and added half again as much lentils, then some more veggies, and cut the water to between 3-4 cups. It all works out!
  • St. Peter’s Spicy Fish Seasoning – the only way we eat fish in our house! Use on wild salmon or any healthy fish.
  •  Tuscan Bean Soup – A super simple soup perfect for dipping grilled cheese.
  •  Veggie Bean Burritos – one of our favorite meatless meals; my husband *almost* doesn’t even miss the meat.
  •  Mexican Black Bean Burgers – They’re not grain-free but could be with almond flour in place of the bread crumbs.
  • Southwestern Pot Pie – a unique twist on the standard pot pie, with a garbanzo bean-sweet potato filling and cornbread on top.

Other Meatless Meals I Discovered

As much as I love the meatless meals we already enjoy here in the KS household, I’m definitely ready for some new Friday meals this year. Here’s the result of my forays into the rest of the real food blogosphere lately…

Note: Some of these options include chicken or beef bone broth, which you may or may not "count" as meat for your Fridays. I have no idea what the Church teaching is on that, but I generally use water or vegetable broth instead and on most recipes, especially hearty, legume-filled soups like most of these, you’d never know the difference.


And don’t forget to follow my Meatless Meals: Real Food Style pin board, where you’ll find most of these recipes archived plus more to come I’m sure. A meatless board where you can be certain soy products won’t make the cut…

Gluten-free AND Meatless

I’ll mark the completely grain-free options with an (*). Some call to be served over rice, so I suppose you could use cauli-rice or a baked potato, which would make even more grain-free.

Just Meatless

(but may be able to be gluten-free with GF pasta)

imageThe Everything Beans Book – About half of the 30 recipes are meatless, and about half are gluten-free, so there’s definitely something for everyone! The Everything Beans Book also includes 20 pages of information on why beans are good for you, how to cook dry beans without frustration and for maximum health benefits and budget savings, how to do it in bulk and store for quick meals later, and even how to deal with – shhhhh – (gas)!

If you haven’t grabbed your copy, what are you waiting for? No better time than Lent to fall in love with beans! Smile You can always find all my meatless meals under the Recipes tab at the top of the page, and click on the subtitle "Meatless Meals" for a complete list!

Lenten Resources Beyond the Kitchen

IMG_6024 (356x475)

Here are some of the Lenten gems from the archives at KS to get you thinking:

I always told my third graders to choose three things to do, one in each category of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, the tradition set by the Church.

Fasting does not have to be from food; it can be to sacrifice anything (like complaining) or abstain from non-food vices (like when I gave up Twitter last year). The point is to develop and sustain your self-control, however God wants you to practice it.

One of the shortest posts I’ve ever written: I Don’t Believe in Giving up Pizza for Lent

Almsgiving also does not have to be monetary. Any sort of service for the Lord is giving alms, as long as it’s done out of love for Him. You might look into a new volunteer opportunity, or simply commit to spending special time with each of your children.

How about it, ladies and gents: what are you contemplating for Lent this year? How will you stretch and challenge yourself?

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12 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. sharon says

    An excellent Lenten discipline that came from my brother-in-law is to choose someone you don’t like or have some gripe with and pray for that person daily. Not praying that they’ll change or that you’ll get along, just praying for their welfare and happiness. Over the years I’ve prayed for obnoxious neighbors and unpleasant co-workers and even politicians, and when lent ends they tend to stay on my prayer list.

  2. casey says

    My birthday is always during Lent, and when I was younger I always gave up chocolate for Lent but my favorite kind of cake is chocolate/chocolate. So my great uncle (now deceased) who was a priest and the head of the Newman Center at UMass (if you went there between ’65 and ’05 you probably knew Father Quigley even if you’re not Catholic,) used to give me a special dispensation so I could eat chocolate on my birthday.

    This year my birthday is on Friday so it’s works out great as I want lobsters for dinner – since it’s Friday we’d be eating fish anyway so my dad doesn’t have an excuse. :)

  3. Barb S says

    Katie, here’s what the USCCB says: “Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). ”

  4. Liosha says

    Hi, I just found your website. For the first time in all of my years of knowing Christ I am going to be setting this time aside for reflection and drawing closer to a relationship with the Lord. I am not Catholic, but serve the Lord in an Assemblies of God church. We typically do not observe Lent, so I know the Lord is drawing me to draw closer to him in reflection of what He did for me at the Cross. I am still researching all about Lenten, picked up some books from the library. I know I will be abstaining from sugar (kinda scared) spending time in prayer using a prayer guide and possibly serving in another capacity.

  5. says

    Thanks for the inspiration! My family normally eats a “meatless” diet including fish, so we have lots of idea for people taking this on as a Lenten fast; here’s what we ate for dinner every night in February.

    I am 7 months pregnant and struggling with mild iron and B12 deficiencies, so I will not be doing a food fast this Lent. Instead I intend to do more Bible study–I have been doing very little except Sundays and a brief daily devotional reading, but I am going to study all of the lectionary readings every day and hope to make time for some longer readings as well.

  6. Abi Craig says

    Not related to Lent, but I have started making a meatless meal each week. It is definitely good for the budget, but what has really helped me be consistent is making it the same night each week – then I don’t “forget” when meal planning. Right now it is Wednesdays since my kids basically go straight from supper to cross country practice. They’ve had no problems doing that on bean based meals. It’s Pasta w/ White Bean Sauce up for this week; those Veggie Bean Burritos are gonna have to show up soon! My collection of ‘approved’ meatless meals is small but growing!

  7. Joke says

    A bit of a late comment as life gets in the way of reading blogs, but as a vegetarian fan of your blog I just want to say thank you for some meatless real food inspiration! I also am very excited to own your everything beans book for a while already (and all your other books, for that matter), it’s a great resource!

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