Over the years I’ve adopted different eating traditions thanks to family and religious practices. Like our Christmas Eve tradition of eating 7 different types of fish. Lent is another one of those times when many are searching for some meatless Lent dinner ideas.
What is Lent?
But first, what is Lent exactly? In the Catholic and Christian faiths, Lent is a period of fasting, prayer, and giving in anticipation of Easter. It lasts for 40 days and involves not eating meat (except seafood) on certain days. Different people observe it in different ways, but meatless Fridays are a key component.
Flesh meats like chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, and bison aren’t allowed during the Lenten season. However, fish and animal products like broth, eggs, and dairy are typically allowed.
Traditionally, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are fasting days. It depends on the person, but generally, this means cutting back on food and not giving it up entirely. Even if your family doesn’t practice Lent, sometimes it’s nice to have a few meat-free dinner recipes that help stretch the budget.
I’m a big advocate for getting enough protein. It’s important not just for muscle repair, but for all of our tissues and organs to work. We can cut out certain food groups like carbs and still survive. But protein is something we can’t function without for long.
It can be hard to find meat-free recipes that are still higher in protein. In general, animal foods are a complete protein source, offering all of the essential amino acids (EEA) we need. Plant foods, like beans, lentils, and grains, are incomplete proteins. This means that they only have some of the EEAs we need and need to be combined.
A lot of Lenten meals are comfort foods like grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta recipes, and macaroni. They can be heavier on carbs and not as nutrient dense. While eating lower protein every now and then won’t have too much of an impact, it can add up.
These weeknight dinner ideas, lunch Lent recipes, and breakfast ideas skip the meat but not the protein. Many of the recipes below are grain-free and they’re all gluten-free.
Easy Recipes for Breakfast
A lot of breakfasts feature eggs, making it easier to find meatless recipes for breakfast. Instead of sausage patties or bacon, opt for protein smoothies and omelets. For carb-heavy recipes like muffins, pair them with a protein smoothie or scrambled eggs for more protein. Adding a scoop of collagen powder into coffee or tea is another great way to pack in more morning protein.
- Sheet pan eggs with sweet potatoes (skip the sausage)
- Brainpower protein shake
- Coconut flour pumpkin muffins
- Lemon poppy seed muffins
- Maple pecan butternut squash
- Grain-free eggs benedict (skip the bacon)
- Banana bread muffins
- Peanut butter chia seed pudding (with blackberry jam)
- Healthy berry crisp
- Cranberry Orange Muffins
- Homemade yogurt
- Caprese omelet with mozzarella
- Zucchini fritters
- Shakshuka eggs with veggies
- Shirred eggs with parmesan cheese
- Crustless spinach quiche
- Steel-cut oats in the Instant Pot
- Coconut flour waffles (high protein)
- Coconut flour pancakes
- Sous vide egg bites (skip the bacon)
- Protein-packed crepes
Lent Dinner Ideas
If you’re looking for a mouthwatering meatless dinner for Friday night then here you go! This list includes main dish and side dish ideas. Lunch for me is often a mix of veggies and canned sardines which are already Lent friendly. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and the point of Lent is to cut back anyway.
- White chicken chili (sub more beans for the chicken)
- Creamy Instant Pot potato soup (skip the optional bacon)
- Roasted red pepper soup
- Roasted garlic soup
- Taco soup (sub beans for the chicken)
- Creamy spring greens soup
- Tomato cabbage soup
- Loaded sweet potato soup (skip the optional meat)
- Thai coconut soup
- Easy miso soup
- Egg drop soup
- French onion soup
- Chipotle-style black bean burrito bowl (skip the chicken and add the seasonings to the beans)
- Tortilla soup (skip the chicken and add beans and quinoa instead)
- Shrimp bisque
Miscellaneous Lent Dinner Ideas
These recipes don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories, but they’re still delicious and Lent-friendly. They’re great for lunch or dinner!
- Mexican bean and rice bowls (skip the beef and add the seasonings to the beans)
- Vegetable fried rice with cauliflower
- Zucchini lasagna with ricotta (skip the beef)
- Cottage cheese alfredo sauce (can serve with chickpea pasta, spaghetti squash, or veggie pasta)
- Italian eggplant parmesan (try it with some basil pesto!)
- Spiced crispy chickpeas (great for topping salads and soups)
I typically top my salads with healthy meat like fish, chicken, or beef. During Lent, opt for fish and add some beans for more protein (if you can eat beans). Salmon or milder tasting fish like flounder are good options.
- Apple kale salad
- Spinach artichoke salad (skip the chicken)
- Watermelon salad with feta
- Strawberry and feta salad
- Taco slaw (goes great with fish!)
- My big fat Greek salad
- Cucumber salad
- Tuna nicoise salad with herb vinaigrette
- Asian color burst salad
- Roasted beet and arugula salad
- Roasted vegetable salad
- Apple walnut tuna salad
Instead of farm-raised fish like tilapia, I opt for wild-caught. Options like tuna and halibut have more mercury than some fish, so I don’t eat a lot of them. We do a lot of sardines and salmon recipes around here though. These are a great way to pack in plenty of healthy proteins and fats during Lent.
You can check out all of my seafood recipes here or choose from the options below.
- Spicy shrimp stir fry
- Fish tacos in cabbage leaves
- Crab cakes with gluten-free breadcrumbs
- Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops)
- Shrimp poblano tacos
- Asian ginger salmon
- Baked coconut shrimp with pina colada sauce
- Fish taco salad
- Homemade grain-free fish sticks
- Tuna-stuffed avocado bowls
- Crab stuffed mushrooms
- One pan baked salmon and asparagus
- Cheesy tuna casserole
- Pecan-crusted flounder
- Grilled Thai shrimp
- Parsnip shrimp lo mein
- 10-Minute Garlic Butter Calamari Recipe (stir-fry)
The Bottom Line On Lent Dinner Ideas
It takes a little more creativity to get enough healthy protein in during Lent, but it’s not impossible. Seafood, beans, eggs, and dairy (if tolerated) are all great options. You can also stir in a scoop of whey protein, plant-based protein, or collagen powder into certain foods and drinks.
Does your family observe Lent? What are some of your favorite go-to meals? Leave a comment and let me know!