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.
Easy Salmon Dinner
The perfect go-to fish recipe for a busy night is a simple salmon. Pair it with your favorite green veggies and a delicious side of herb butter rice.
Spicy Shrimp with Orzo
Garlic Butter Shrimp Skillet
This delicious garlic butter shrimp skillet has a rich sauce that's perfect for dunking crispy bread in and is cooked in under 15 minutes.
Slowcooker Shrimp Stew
A great dinner for a busy evening is this slowcooker spicy shrimp stew because you can prep it ahead and just enjoy dinner later.
Mustard Glazed Salmon
Our very favorite way to enjoy salmon is this mustard glazed salmon with couscous and oranges. It has the best texture!
A healthy dinner salad and a great way to use leftovers, this salmon salad with blueberries, tomatoes, basil, and wild rice is perfect for using up your Friday night salmon on Saturday.
Macadamia Crusted Halibut
If you have a special occasion that falls on a Friday and you still want to observe the fast, this macadamia crusted halibut is the perfect solution. It is so good we've even made it for Christmas!
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:
- Start by thawing frozen shrimp so they don't get soggy.
- Learn how to cook frozen shrimp so it keeps its texture.
- Serve it with one of our favorite dipping sauces for shrimp.
Or you can try my favorite 3-minute boiled shrimp recipe here:
You can actually find 35+ easy shrimp recipes here along with tips on how to cook it well.
Cheesy Crab Melts
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.
Cheese Tortellini Soup
This cheese tortellini soup is lighter and healthier than it sounds. You can mix and match the veggies as you wish.
One of my favorite soup recipes of all time is this gnocchi soup with lemon and dill. So perfect for spring.
Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Leave out the chicken in this Tuscan chicken soup recipe, there are so many veggies that compensate.
Homemade Tomato Bisque
This easy homemade tomato soup recipe is perfect for a cozy dinner. Just add a grilled cheese sandwich for dunking!
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!
My kids beg for this Fettucini Alfredo recipe all year long. So quick and easy. Just add a bag of frozen peas.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
This baked macaroni and cheese is so much better than boxed, and is sure to be a hit. Best part? It only takes 15 minutes to bake and can be prepped ahead.
Peanut Butter Noodles
This spicy Thai peanut noodles recipe is still tasty even without the sticky chicken!
Veggie Fried Rice
You can add extra egg to boost the protein in this delicious and easy meatless vegetable fried rice.
Fresh Tomato Pasta
This simple fresh tomato pasta recipe is easy to make in a pinch. You could pair it with shrimp if you needed more protein.
Roasted Veggie Pasta Toss
With enough variety, your tastebuds will be so busy they won't miss the meat in this roasted vegetables pasta. Just be sure to leave out the meatballs from this recipe. You could always add shrimp if needed.
Garden Lasagna Cupcakes
My kids love to help assemble these delicious garden lasagna cupcakes made with wonton wrappers. Filled with yummy veggies, they are always a hit.
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.
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