Eating meatless meals for Lent doesn't have to be a struggle with your kids.
Check out these delicious and EASY Lenten recipes for busy families.
When I was a kid, eating meatless meals for Lent usually meant a fish sandwich from the school cafeteria.
If I was lucky, we'd be observing an even stricter fast and have just a simple bowl of plain white rice which I found significantly more palatable.
Now that I'm an adult who has learned to appreciate seafood, it's a whole lot easier for me to observe the meatless Fridays during Lent.
I love the challenge of finding new Lent recipes each year that my kids will still enjoy.
If you've struggled to get your kids to eat fish, you'll find plenty of kid-friendly meatless dinner ideas here!
P.S. Don't miss the other wonderful Catholic feast days for families to celebrate with kids.
Meatless Recipes in Your Inbox
Hey friends, if you'd like me to send you meatless recipe ideas straight to your inbox just in time for your Lent cooking, I have a special newsletter that starts just in time for Ash Wednesday.
Every Thursday during Lent, I'll send you a few ideas to inspire you for Friday night. You can get on the list right here (it's all completely FREE):
What is Lent?
Lent is the 40-day season of preparation before Easter. Catholics observe a weekly fasting from meat during three important times during Lent:
- Ash Wednesday
- Good Friday
- Every Friday during Lent
A rare exception: When St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday, often there will be a dispensation for Catholics to enjoy corned beef for their celebrations.
What Counts as a Meatless Recipe for Lent?
A meatless recipe for Lent can actually include seafood. The "meatless" term refers specifically to avoiding chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc. However, fish and shellfish are acceptable.
Most Catholics choose to eat fish on the Fridays during Lent. In fact, Fish Fry Fridays are a beloved tradition throughout the midwest.
However, it is also possible to choose a recipe with no animal proteins, like cheese pizza or macaroni and cheese, as well.
NOTE: Several of the recipes below do involve chicken stock. I did some research and it appears that ingredient is allowed but if you want to be extra safe, you can easily swap out vegetable or fish stock in any of the recipes you need.
Curious about more rules for what you can eat during Lent? This article has really great in-depth descriptions of what is allowed and what is not.
Easy Seafood Recipes
This is usually the first thought for Friday night. If you want to introduce your kids to fish, now is a great time!
Shrimp is a top favorite for the Peanut and myself but Handyman Tim and Little Pea aren't as big of fans. Our family also loves salmon and tilapia.
Many of these recipes are interchangeable with your fish of choice, whatever your kids love will work.
Flexible Shrimp Dinner Idea
Shrimp is a perfect Lent recipe for kids. Mix and match it with any sides you have in your pantry or freezer and a bag of frozen veggies or a salad.
You'll just want to follow a few tricks:
More Delicious Fish Recipes
Sheet pan teriyaki salmon: Sheet pan dinners are perfect for busy nights. I love the easy clean-up.
Shrimp and gnocchi with garlic cream sauce: Comfort food at it's very best. If you like alfredo, you'll love this.
Tuscan shrimp with spinach and tomatoes: A great way to mix in some veggies with the shrimp.
Beer battered buffalo shrimp sliders: Yum, yum, yum. These sliders are perfect for Friday nights.
Meatless Soup Recipes
I love a simple soup for dinner. Just serve these with your favorite homemade bread or easy refrigerator biscuits or a classic grilled cheese!
When your kids are just DONE with fish, these are great meatless alternatives.
More Meatless Soups
Broccoli and cheese soup: This is a great way to get kids to enjoy broccoli. Double-win!
Creamy carrot and ginger soup: A fun mix for a fancier grilled cheese.
Cauliflower chowder: Be sure to skip the bacon!
Thai butternut squash soup: Be sure to grab the pre-cut butternut squash to keep this easy.
Meatless Pasta & Rice Recipes
My kids could LIVE on pasta alone. But, mama can only handle buttered noodles so often.
From spicy to creamy, there is sure to be something on this list that will please your family!
More Meatless Pasta Recipes
Fusilli with lemon, arugula, and tomato: This is one of my personal favorites. I love to make it every spring.
Spring risotto with peas and asparagus: When you're sick of pasta, a creamy risotto is wonderful comfort food.
Caprese pesto pasta salad: My kids love pesto anything.
Pasta all'arrabbiata: This means "angry pasta" and all the spice while definitely keep you satisfied without the meat.
Meatless Pizza Recipes
If you want to have a little more fun on your Friday night, you could make homemade pizza with the kids.
My kids LOVE these meatless cheesy pokey sticks made with the pizza dough.
This sweet corn pizza would also work if you skip the bacon.
Dinner Ideas That Don't Require a Recipe
And for the craziest of busy evenings, sometimes you just need to rely on the shortcuts!
There is no shame in whipping together a dinner out of one of these meatless menus:
- Poached or scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit
- Frozen breaded tilapia cutlets with boxed mac and cheese & frozen veg
- Grilled cheese & store-bought tomato soup
- Cheese pizza--frozen or delivery!
- Breakfast for Dinner: pancakes, waffles, or french toast
Breakfast and Lunch Ideas for Lent
Don't get caught by surprise, have a plan for both breakfast and lunch during Lent, too! Our family finds lunches the most difficult because we are often away from home and with people who do not observe the Lenten fast.
Plan ahead and pack these breakfasts to go and easy lunches: