Get a free REAL FOOD INGREDIENT GUIDE with clear 'buy this, NOT that' advice in every food category:

leaky quiz-2

Meatless-Vegetarian-Lenten Meal Ideas


See below for a complete list of meatless / vegetarian / Lenten meal ideas, broken down by category.


Click here for a prettier list with pictures. :)


Time to start planning some meatless-vegetarian-lenten meals, and not just Catholics because “our Church says so” on the Fridays in Lent, but because a little sacrificing now and then is good for the soul no matter what your religion…so try not to make anything too fancy!

Why meatless?

Meatless meals are not just for Catholics or vegetarians, but for all of us who feel like something different, or who need a more budget-friendly meal now and then.

I have a great resource to share with you: a whole list of meatless meals that I refer to each year during Lent. My friend, Anne, sent an e-mail out a few years ago asking friends for ideas, and here are some of the responses she got:

Meatless-Vegetarian-Lenten Meal Ideas

Egg based items:

  • Check out these egg recipes from YOU
  • Egg salad/Deviled eggs
  • Zucchini Frittata Recipe
  • Omelets (made with any and all veggies currently in the fridge)
  • Quiches or cheese pies (Beats me what a cheese pie is – if you know, leave a comment please! I assume it’s another name for a quiche…?)
  • Scrambled eggs and hash browns
  • Egg sandwiches-like Egg McMuffins but no meat
  • Over easy eggs with toast
  • From Anne – fried rice: “we have a rice steamer and cook rice in large batches. When we have 3 cups of leftover rice (rice must be cooled, newly cooked rice won’t work) we heat olive oil in a large pan, put onions, peas, or whatever is in the fridge and rice in to pan. Heat them through. Then spread the rice to the outside of the pan leaving a hole in the middle. Put oil in the pan again, crack 1-3 eggs depending on amount of rice. Scramble them as they cook in the middle of the pan mostly away from the rice. When the eggs are pretty much cooked, spread them out throughout the rice and heat the entire thing.”

Pasta dishes:

  • Try this one without the chicken: Parmesan Pesto Pasta
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli
  • Super Easy Ravioli (compromise version), and this one is a Homemade 3-Cheese Garlic Tomato Ravioli
  • 5-cheese lasagna recipe
  • Pasta & Veggie Stir Fry
  • Roasted Asparagus Lasagna
  • My Mom’s Baked Mac & Cheeseor we also like this stove-top mac and cheese from Chef Michael Symon (obviously leave the bacon out for a meatless meal)
  • Lyn’s Organic Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Pasta with butter and fresh grated parmesan cheese, with homemade bread
  • Calzones (made with cheese/veggie combo of choice)
  • Spaghetti with meatless sauce
  • Any Italian dish without the meat
  • Meatless stuffed shells (Kelly’s note: the Boursin cheese in the above recipe is great in stuffed shells! I’ll use 3 boxes of that, a container of organic cottage cheese, 3/4 c. or so of shredded parmesan, & a small container of whole-milk Ricotta cheese. This is enough for 2-9×13’s full. I add plenty of my favorite sauce then mozzarella on top.)
  • My newest Italian Stuffed Shells recipe
  • Easy Red Sauce: Saute chopped onion and 2-4 cloves crushed garlic in a few tablespoons olive oil. Add one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, 1 T. basil, 1 t. oregano and about 1 t. salt. Simmer partly covered 30 minutes or so. Can add canned mushrooms.
  • Spaghetti Carbonara: to one pound cooked spaghetti add 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 chopped parsley, 4 beaten eggs and 1/2 c. or more of parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. Toss and serve immediately. This recipe is actually made with crumbled cooked bacon. Replace 1/2 of the butter with bacon grease and crumbled bacon if it’s not a Friday in Lent.
  • Vegetarian Lasagna: preheat oven 350 degrees, boil Lasagna noodles. In large Skillet, sauté 3 cups thinly slice mushrooms in oil, remove and set aside. Sauce: In 3 qt saucepan with 1 TBS olive oil, sauté 1 cup chopped onions and 6 minced garlic cloves. Add 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, 1 cup canned Italian tomatoes with liquid, 1 tsp salt,1 tsp each oregano and basil, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 bay leaf. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Filling: Mix 2- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach thawed and well drained, with 2 cups ricotta cheese, 1 beaten egg, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper. Build lasagna: shred 11 oz monterey jack cheese. Layer 1: half spinach mixture, then half mushroom, then ½ cup tomato, then half monterey jack cheese. Layer 2: same as above. Bake 40-50 min until cooked through and cheese is light brown.
  • Simple Baked Spaghetti Pie – a great meal to make-ahead and keep in the freezer!


  • Look through my index of Mexican recipes
  • Cheese quesadillas
  • Cheese enchiladas: roll sliced cheddar or colby cheese and lots of chopped onion in corn tortillas and place fold side down in a baking dish. Pour over a large can of enchilada sauce and more shredded cheese. Bake 350 about 15 minutes. I always serve pineapple with Mexican dishes. (This one was from Noelle D.) Kelly’s note: I’ve never looked for organic enchilada sauce, just make sure it doesn’t have MSG, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, etc.
  • Bean and cheese enchiladas: heat oil in a pan then one at a time dip 10 corn tortillas in hot oil just long enough for them to get soft. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour enchilada sauce in shallow bowl. Dip the corn tortillas in the sauce and place in a 9 x 13 pan. Put refried beans down the center of the tortilla then sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla up and place seam side down in the pan. After all enchiladas are in the pan top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake at 305 for about 20 minutes. (This one was from Terry C.) Kelly’s note: use coconut oil (no flavor or virgin) for the tortillas, no unhealthy vegetable oils: corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, canola/rapeseed, safflower. Make sure corn tortillas don’t have trans fat.
  • More enchilada Hints from Anne: “take the corn tortillas and soak them for a minute or so in the enchilada sauce. Makes them softer and easier to roll. You can put any kind of shredded cheese inside (also ground beef, chicken, and/or refried beans). I like to sprinkle the top with cut green onions and cheese. This freezes and reheats well. To make your own enchilada sauce, use 1 c onion, 1 clove garlic, 2 T butter, 3 or 4 tomatoes (I use quart canned tomatoes and can of paste), 1 c tomato sauce, 1 tsp cumin, red pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp salt, ½ t oregano, ½ t basil.”
  • Chips and cheese with a refried-bean dip
  • Anne said they sometimes make a chip and dip bar. Cheese, bean dip, olives, sour cream, salsa, etc. and everyone gets some chips to dip. GREAT favorite.

Breakfast for Dinner:

Misc. Meals/Veggies:Beer bread and dipping sauce

  • Cheesy potato boats
  • Kent’s Sicilian Summer Stew
  • “Ketchup Soup” & grilled cheese sandwiches (or I want to try this version!)
  • Cheese soup with warm homemade bread or with this beer bread!
  • Lentils and rice, black-eyed peas and rice, spiced black turtle beans and rice…you get the idea. You can flavor these however you prefer: cumin and hot pepper, garlic and onion, thyme and oregano, tomatoes and garlic, green peppers and onion…(This one from Katheryn M.)
  • Potato pancakes
  • Homemade Cheese Pizza – lots of ideas/variations at this post.
  • Garden Ranch Pizza from Colleen D.: mix together 1/2 c mayo (Kelly’s note: click here to see my homemade mayo recipe! Or click here for the only kind I buy) 1/2 package ranch seasoning (Use organic or else it will have trans fats and MSG – Simply Organic brand has one), & (2T)1 garlic clove. Preheat oven to 425. Roll out pizza dough on stone (homemade pizza dough is easy. Don’t use the pizza dough in a can! Those all still have major heart-killer trans fats!) Spread mixture evenly over dough to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with 1 c. mozzarella cheese. Chop 1 c. broccoli, dice 1/2 red bell pepper, peel and cut 1 medium carrot, slice 1/2 c. pitted sliced ripe olives. Sprinkle all on top of cheese and dough. Top with another 1 c. mozz. cheese. Grate 1/4 c. parmesan over pizza.Bake 18-22 min, or until edges are golden brown. Cool a few min. before serving. Any other day of the week this is good with chopped cooked chicken or cooked ground beef in there also.
  • Marshall Salad from Anne: “My kids love this and it’s even good left over. For summer we frequently eat just this salad. It’s a meal in itself. If it’s not Friday, add crumbled bacon. Fill bowl with romaine and then add lots of grated swiss cheese, toasted slivered almonds, parmesan cheese and chopped red pepper or cherry tomatoes. Combine 3/4 c. oil, 3 T. lemon juice and 3 cloves crushed garlic. Let stand 3 hours and then toss with salad.”
  • Baked potato bar is very yummy.” (Deb R.) – Topping ideas: meatless chili, shredded cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, salsa, pastured butter of course, broccoli, bacon bits (when it’s not Lent), chives, caramelized onions and/or garlic, homemade ranch
  • Indian Eggplant Recipe from Sonia (Baingan Bhurtha) – A Vegetarian Recipe You Will Love!
  • Broccoli cheese soup (the pic here isn’t great, but I’ve gotten SO many good comments on this recipe!) – or try cauliflower cheese soup
  • Potato soup without the ham or bacon
  • Olga’s Kitchen Copycat Recipe: Three Cheese Olga

Click for List of Seafood Recipes

  • From David B.: (The idea every wife wants to hear…) “My bet is on the Fish Fry at Saint Alphonsus (or another local Catholic Church!), 224 Carrier NE in Grand Rapids – Best fish in town on a Friday night and great fellowship, too.”


***Check out more meatless meal ideas at Kitchen Stewardship’s Meatless Meals Carnival, and another Meatless Meals Carnival, too!

Healthy meal plans any dietMeal Planning Help!

Sick of planning meals and answering the question, “What am I going to feed these people?” No matter what kind of eater you are… Check out these affordable interactive easy-to-use meal plans where the work is done for you! Also read over my review to see what I thought of it.


  1. Ever notice how if meat is avoided, it is much harder to avoid the starch? Pasta, grains, and beans seem to rule. If one has to restrict starch to avoid high blood glucose levels, more creativity is needed. I wonder how Cauliflower Carbonara tastes?

    I can’t remember – is fish allowed for those who observe Lent?

  2. Hi Anna,

    Yes, fish is an option for the Fridays of Lent, however my husband doesn’t like it, so I don’t have any fish recipes. If any of you have some good ones, post a comment please!

    For some meatless no-starch meals, the egg based ideas are always a good option.

    Have a great day!

  3. Here’s an easy, economical enchilada sauce recipe:

    Enchilada Sauce

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 (8-ounce) can organic tomato
    2 cups water
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    1. Heat oil in large 2-quart saucepan; stir in flour and chili powder; cook for 1 minute.
    2. Add remaining ingredients bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

    Makes 3 cups sauce.

    Great blogs!

  4. We love fish in our house, so when I saw a comment asking for a fish recipe I thought I’d add this contribution. Hope you like it! :)

    FISH IN FILO (this recipe is to serve one)

    Blue Grenadier is our perfered fish for this recipe, but you could use any.
    Using filo pastry, take 2 sheets and spray lightly with olive oil. Place fish to one end (add sliced zucchini, tomato and/or lemon if you like, as well as herbs and a small knob of butter). Wrap the fish up in the pastry much like an envelope, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for around 1/2hr on a mod. heat. When pastry is browned, it’s done. Serve with salad and a slice of lemon, also baked potato chips if you’re in the mood for making them … bake them whilst the fish is cooking.

  5. Wild Rice Soup Recipe
    2 Tbs butter
    2 medium stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)
    1 medium carrot, coarsley shredded (about one cup)
    1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    1 small green bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    3 Tbs all-purpose flour
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (or wild/brown rice mix)
    1 cup water
    2 cups chicken bone broth
    1 cup half-and-half
    1/3 cup slivered almonds, soaked and toasted
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

    Heat butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook celery, carrot, onion and bell pepper in margerine about 4 minutes. Stir in flour and pepper. Stir in wild rice, water, and chicken broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Stir in half-and-half, almonds, and parsley. Heat until just hot (do not boil). 5 servings.

  6. Thanks Barb, hopefully this is also good with veggie broth, which I would use if it was Lent. I love new ideas, thank you!

  7. I’m sure veggie broth would be good also, but did you know… “According to Father John Huels in The Pastoral Companion (Franciscan Herald Press), 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 not forbidden. “

  8. Barb, NO, I didn’t know that!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OK, I just did a little Googling and found that what you say is correct! I hadn’t even though of animal FATS, but it talks about those being OK, too.

    Here’s a site with good info: (do a search for the word “broth” to take you to that section, about half-way down I think.)

    Thanks, Barb!

  9. My husband and I just tried a new salmon recipe this past Friday that I saw made on TV – it was really delicious, and I don’t usually even like salmon! The cooking method is unusual but worth a try for sure!

    Wood-Grilled Salmon

    Serves 4.

    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    4 skin-on salmon fillets (each 6 to 8 ounces and 1 1/4 inches thick)
    1 tablespoon olive oil (I didn’t even notice this and left it off)
    2 cups wood chips , soaked for 15 minutes (we used hickory)

    Combine sugar, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Brush flesh side of salmon with oil and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Following photos 1 and 2, use heavy-duty aluminum foil to make four 7- by 5-inch trays. Using tip of knife, perforate bottom of each tray. Divide wood chips among trays and place salmon skin-side down on top of wood chips.

    Place trays with salmon over hot fire and grill, covered, until center of each fillet is still just translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove trays from grill. Following photo 3, slide metal spatula between skin and flesh of fish and transfer to platter. Serve.

  10. Salmon is our favorite fish dish for Lent. I buy the frozen “loin” type salmon filets. I sautee onions and garlic in some butter then add it to an oven dish to which I add 2 salmon portions. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees and enjoy. Served with broccoli and a side salad, you have a very satisfying meal.

  11. FYI
    I had a neighbor who had severe hemochromatosis…. until she stopped cooking in her grandmother’s cast iron skillets.

Leave a Reply