Lenten Meal Plan

20130314-215409.jpg

so, i posted this photo on facebook earlier in the week and asked if anyone would be interested in a lenten meal plan and the the response was huge! it’s nice to know i’m not the only one struggling with mealtimes during lent. i love cooking, even lenten cooking, but it drives me crazy trying to figure out what to cook each day.

meal planning makes life easier any time of year, but especially during lenten periods because you have far less flexibility when it comes to throwing meals together last minute.

in this post, i’m going to share with you the best meal plan binder instructions that i’ve seen. i’ve tried tons of them, trust me, but none of them were convenient enough to help keep me organized and efficient. which means, i didn’t feel like the effort i needed to put into using them was worth it. but this binder? oh this binder is different.

when i saw the color coded post-it’s in this binder, it was love at first sight.

i found it while browsing recipes on pinterest and started playing around with it a little for non-fasting days and immediately recognized it’s potential. you can watch the video tutorial and download the pages here at Homemade by Carmona. she is a genius! this system is so practical and easy to use and i love that she gives you the option to customize the pages. this allowed me to create my lenten sections!

now, it was a tad bit of work getting it all ready, but it is already well worth it.

so, without further adieu, here is my new favorite meal plan binder!

What you’ll need:

  • printer
  • binder
  • hole puncher
  • at least four different color post-it strips

The first thing you’ll want to do is download the pages and add your own page titles. I made ‘Lenten Dinner Ideas’ and ‘Lenten Dessert Ideas’ pages in addition to my everyday non-fasting pages. I actually made two of each, but realized when I started adding recipes that one was enough. The pages work as spreads, like shown below, or you can do what I did and make it a Dinner/Dessert spread. I also made a ‘Breakfast/Appetizer’ page.

20130315-111137.jpg

Next, you’ll want to laminate the pages. I placed them back to back to use less space and laminating sheets. This will help you move the post-it’s from page to page.

Then, you’re going to take your post-it strips and grab all of your favorite cookbooks. Be sure to go through all the recipes you’ve torn out of magazines or newspapers, too. Figure out how you want to color code them all. This is important! This will allow you to see what you’re eating. For example, I made veggies green and when I looked at my pages, I noticed how little green there was, so I searched for more vegetable side dishes.

I coded mine like this:

  • Yellow=Fish/Dairy meals (for days during they year when only dairy is permitted. NOT during fasting periods).
  • Orange=Entrees.
  • Pink=Slow Cooker Meals.
  • Green=Vegetables/Salads.
  • Blue=Pasta, Potatoes, Rice.

You can see in the photo below, sort of how that is set up.

20130315-082807.jpg

For my lenten one, since we don’t eat dairy or fish, I changed the yellow tab to seafood. I only included a few seafood recipes because I figured since it is only permitted on weekends, I didn’t need that many.

Once you have your color system figured out, it’s easy peasy. You just go through all of your favorite recipes, the tried and true ones to ones you’ve been meaning to try and write the recipe titles on each post-it. If you look closely at my tabs, you’ll see things like pinterest, kraft mag, or greek cookbook pg. 104. I did this so that when I need to access the recipe itself, I’ll know exactly where to find it. I even created a folder in my bookmarks titled “Meal Planner” and added all the recipes I had bookmarked to that folder. *you can follow my vegan recipe pin board here.

Then, go to town! Write down all those recipes. See where your holes are. Are you not eating enough veggies? Too many carbs? Do you have too many sides and not enough entrees? This is totally customizable, which is why it actually works. Go through all your cookbooks, bookmarks, pinterest boards, etc. You’ll want to take advantage of this time to gather ALL those recipes into one place and fill up that idea section. You can even put post-it’s on top of each other, like I did below.

20130318-165244.jpg

After you populate your idea sections, you’ll go to the weekly menu plan (I made two because I shop and plan for two weeks at a time) and choose which recipes you want to make for that week. Peel off your post-it’s and add them to each day. Now, you’re ready to make your grocery list!

20130318-165236.jpg

You’ll know what you’re cooking, what you need to prep ahead of time for each day of the week. This takes sooo much of the pressure off during lent, allowing us to put our inner Martha’s to rest and focus on being Mary’s during Lent.

Sprout was helping me decide what dishes to choose. Love these kids. 🙂

Lenten Meal Planning

Now, I know that this is only half the battle. The other half, during Lent at least, is figuring out WHAT to put on those recipe tabs. So, I’m going to share all of the recipes I chose for my binder. Of course, some you may hate and want to replace, feel free. Also, feel free to share them with me, because I have as hard a time as the rest of you figuring out what to cook and am always open to new ideas!

Please keep in mind that these recipes cater to my fast.  Some people may fast differently due to health or other reasons.  My fast is the traditional no meat, no dairy, no seafood (except for weekends) and fish only on March 25.  So, feel free to alter the recipes according to how you fast personally.

I’ve included about 30 recipes for main courses. Which means, there is plenty to work with here.  Even if you only like half of them, if you cook them twice you have something for almost the entire lenten period.  🙂 I only posted 3 or 4 sides but am planning on adding more, so check this post again in a couple weeks. I’ll highlight the new additions. I’ll have a separate post for breakfast, appetizers and desserts. K?  So keep checking back!  As we go, I’ll post a lot more recipes and will try to organize all of this so it’s as easily accessible as possible…be patient with me!

meal planning pic

*I tried not to post many recipes that used soy, as I’m trying to stay away from it. I keep reading in different places how bad it is for our health, especially thyroid and hormone related issues.

Are you ready? Here we go…

Seafood:

Scallops with White Wine Cream Sauce (click photo for recipe)

vegan scallops and white wine cream sauce

Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups minced onion
  • 2-8 oz. cans baby clams, drained (put liquid aside for later use)
  • 2 cups celery, cut small
  • 2 cups potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt or minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup canned or fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • (Optional: 1/2 cup green onions, 1 Tbsp. dry parsley or small diced carrots)

Directions:

Cook onion in oil until golden brown; add clams and simmer for about 5 minutes; add celery and let simmer, than add green onions, green pepper, parsley, carrots, garlic and simmer for a few minutes stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and simmer for 5 minutes; then add clam liquid, water, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for half hour, then add diced potatoes. Cook for additional half hour or until all vegetables are done.

Braised Shrimp

photo courtesy of kikirice.blogspot.com
photo courtesy of kikirice.blogspot.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. shrimp
  • 5 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. parsley, chopped

Directions:

Cover shrimp (with shells) in water and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of broth. Shell and devein shrimp. Saute onions in oil. Add tomatoes, chopped parsley and i cup shrimp broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp. Serve over bed of rice.

Stuffed Calamari

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 lbs medium or large squid
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fine bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (without retsina)
  • 1 small can peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/8 lbs fresh or dried onions
  • dill weed
  • parsley
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Clean squid (how-to clean squid here) and set aside in strainer to drain. Finely chop white interior and heads of squid. Finely chop onions and parboil with very little water. When water has been absorbed, add oil and saute onions and chopped squid. Slowly, pour in wine so that liquid becomes frothy.

Add rice, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, parsley, dill weed, and pine nuts. Mix well and remove from heat. Take bodies of squid and stuff loosely with filling (rice will swell). Opening can be pinched and held together with toothpicks.

In large skillet, heat remaining oil and carefully arrange stuffed squid so as not to split open. Saute slightly and add crushed tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until done and sauce thickens. If squid is large, cut into slices and serve on a platter.

Entrees:

Portabella Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • Sliced portabellas, either two large whole caps sliced or you can buy pre-sliced)
  • 1/2 medium sized onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • seasonings (see recommendations below)
  • buns
  • lettuce
  • tomatoe

Slice musgrooms, onion and bell pepper into long thin slices. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and bell peppers and saute over medium heat just until tender. Add some seasoning to the veggies and oil, such as Huey’s seasoning, Cavender’s, or Emeril’s Essence.

Add portabellas and heat just until tender, not mushy, turning or stirring occasionally. This only takes a few minutes.

Serve on a sesame seed bun with lettuce, tomato, mustard or Vegenaise.

Rustic Eggplant Lasagna (click photo for recipe)

eggplant lasagna

Lettuce TempehWraps (click photo for recipe)

Lettuce Tempeh Wraps

Creamy Broccoli Rice Casserole (click photo for recipe)

broccoli-rice-casserole

Matzo Brie (click photo for recipe)

358873fad4914931314b94f2036b503a_XL

Mexicali Sliders (click photo for recipe)

Mexicali Sliders

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles

Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles

Veggies and Beans:

Baked Tomatoes w/Breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 lbs fresh, ripened but firm, tomatoes
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 bunches fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Clean potatoes and cut in thick round slices. Combine onions, parsley and garlic with breadcrumbs, and sprinkle with salt.

Wash tomatoes and cut in thick round slices. Arrange potato slices in baking dish, salt and sprinkle evenly with enough bread crumbs to make a 1/4″ layer of crumbs.

Alternately layer tomato slices and bread crumbs and tomatoes, ending with a layer of bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle oil on top and bake at 350 degrees until top browns and bottom layers have absorbed liquid.

Chickpea Kale Quiche Pizza (click photo for recipe)

millet+pizza+067-001

Veggie Calzones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans large refrigerated biscuits (generic brand is usually non-dairy)
  • 2-3 cups of frozen veggies of choice (i use broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, corn or whatever is in the freezer)
  • garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • 16 oz. can tomato sauce

Directions:

Cook veggies in small amount of water until tender. Add garlic salt and other seasoning to taste. Add tomato sauce and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roll out each biscuit with a rolling pin until dough is about 1/8-1/4″ thick and about 4″ in diameter. Place dough on cookie sheet and place about 1/4 cup of veggies and sauce on one side of the circle. Fold other half of dough over and pinch edges with a fork to seal.

Follow directions on biscuit can. Serve immediately or freeze for another day.

Yields about 16 calzones.

Veggie Frittata

Vegetable Frittata

Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. frozen broccoli
  • 12 Tbsp. margarine
  • 10 Tbsp. flour
  • garlic salt
  • 10-12 slices any kind of veggie cheese (cheddar is best in my opinion)

Directions:

Cover broccoli with water and boil until al dente. In another pot, melt margarine and add flour one Tbsp. at a time, whisking until fluffy like a souffle. Add this to broccoli while it is boiling and whisk. Simmer soup while adding veggie slices, one at a time until they melt. Cook slowly for a few minutes. Add garlic salt to taste.

Veggie Lasagna

Veggie Lasagna

Fasolatha

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Northern beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to make creamy)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Soak beans overnight.
  2. Next day: boil beans until skin falls off (blow on to test)
  3. Add remaining ingredients & cook, stirring frequently until creamy.

Note: The longer it sits the creamier it gets, so I try to have it ready several hours before supper time.

Faki

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pastina or other tiny pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon or to taste

Directions:

Put lentils in pot and cover with water.  Add chopped onion and garlic.  Add 1 cup tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Add 1/2 cup oil.  Add the bay leaves and cook for about 45 minutes or until lentils are done.  Then, add salt, pepper, pasta and anything else.  Cook until pasta is done.

Mjadera

This is a traditional Palestinian recipe and will make a thick porridge of lentils and rice, topped with crispy onions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup small grain brown rice
  • 1 cup medium grain brown rice
  • 4 tsp. salt, plus more as needed to taste
  • water, for soaking rice
  • 1 lb. brown lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 5 small onions
  • 11-12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • olive oil, for frying

Directions:

Soak the rice in very hot water with four teaspoons of salt. While rice is soaking, slice onions as thinly as possible.

Then put lentils in a pot and add water until covered about an inch. Add garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and cook (covered) for 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Rinse the rice well and drain. Add the rice to the lentils. Taste the water, adding salt as necessary. Season the rice and lentils with cumin, allspice, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Continue to simmer, covered, until the rice and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed.

While waiting for lentils and rice to cook, fry the onions in plenty of olive oil over low until they are caramelized and just crispy. When finished, strain from oil and set aside.

When rice is done, stir in the oil from onions and cook on low heat for five more minutes. Serve hot, with a few fried onions on top of each serving.

Split Pea Soup (slow cooker recipe)

Split Pea Soup

photo courtesy of foodsforlonglife.com

*Note: I hate peas. Like, hate peas. But I love split pea soup! So, even if peas aren’t on your list of favorite foods, give this soup a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced
  • 1 lb. dried green split peas, rinsed well
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • vegetarian bacon bits, optional

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, or reduce the water to 6 cups, and cook in a slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.

On an oil day, fry the onion and garlic in oil before adding. Top each bowl with vegetarian bacon bits, if desired.

Greek Briam

*Note: This is so easy and is really delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 7 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 yellow or butternut squash, chopped
  • 6 medium zucchinis, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper

Place all vegetables in a deep baking dish. Pour olive oil on top until it’s about 3/4″ from bottom. Add can of tomatoes and seasonings. Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until potatoes are tender.

Pasta, Potatoes & Rice:

Shorbet Addas (can be made in slow cooker)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed well
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 4-8 cups water or vegetable broth, enough to fill your pot
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 12 cloves garlic, smashed or minced finely
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, rib removed and chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Directions:

Put the lentils, rice and water (or broth) in a large pot, add salt and bring to a low boil. You may need to stir occasionally to keep the lentils from burning at the bottom.

Caramelize onions in a pan and add celery and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes and then add to pot.

Add carrots and spices. Stir and taste. If needed, add more salt to taste. Cook this until the carrots and rice get soft.

Fifteen minutes before serving add kale and lemon juice. Cook until greens are wilted.

Pasta with Creamy Spinach Sauce (click photo for recipe)

Pasta with Creamy Spinach Sauce

Spanakorizo (Spinach & Rice)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 lbs. spinach
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 3-4 fresh green onions or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups rice or orzo pasta
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Clean and wash green onions. Chop finely and saute in oil until golden. Wash spinach and drain well. Chop and sprinkle with salt. Add to onions together with dill and pepper. Saute until limp. Add lemon juice, cover and simmer in its own liquid until tender. Check liquid and add enough water to cook rice or pasta. Bring to a boil, stir in rice well and cover and simmer until rice is done. Proportion rice to spinach can be altered as desired.

Note: For a variation substitute lemon juice with 1 cup peeled crushed tomatoes and a lesser amount of water. Can also be cooked without oil. Parboil onions and spinach instead of sauteing and proceed as above.

Pad Thai Noodles (click photo for recipe)

Pad Thai Noodles

Potato Soup (click photo for recipe)

Vegan-Potato-Soup-by-Namely-Marly2

Tomato & Potato Bake

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 1/4 lb potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • sprigs of parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until starting to brown.

 

Add tomatoes, season and cook for about a minute.

Cut potatoes into wedges. Add to pan, stirring well.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Season again with salt and pepper and transfer to a baking dish.  Cover and place on middle rack.  Cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  Garnish with parsley.

Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 6 cans creamed corn
  • 5 medium sized potatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy creamer
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place creamed corn and potatoes in pot. Bring to a boil. Add non-dairy creamer and salt and pepper. Turn heat up to medium, cover and let cook until potatoes are cooked. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking at the bottom.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 10 large tomatoes
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dill, chopped
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cups pulp and juice scooped from tomatoes

Directions:

Slice tops from tomatoes and scoop out center.  Discard hard center.  Place in baking pan.  Mix all ingredients together and spoon into tomato cups.  Replace tops.  Pour in enough boiling water to cover bottom of pan.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, then uncover and bake until brown and done.

Sides:

Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Uncle Ben’s rice
  • 1 1/2 sticks margarine, sliced
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium sized jar mushrooms, sliced
  • oregano to taste
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Place rice in pan and add vegetable broth, water, mushrooms and spices. Slice margarine and scatter evenly across rice. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until rice is cooked.

Oven Baked Fries (click photo for recipe)

3330153504_036a4b4531

Potatoes Au Gratin (click photo for recipe)

food-027-15

Some of the cookbooks I used for this post includes: A Festive Feast, Lenten Cookbook, An Orthodox Kitchen, and The Lenten Lunchbox. The first two can be purchased from Panagia Vlahernon monastery at 352.591.6023. An Orthodox Kitchen is available here. The Lenten Lunchbox is unfortunately not available, it was given to attendees of St. Spyridon’s Advent Conference several years back.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of the lenten recipes on this blog. There are a lot that are not on this list!

And please, send feedback!  Was this helpful, why or why not?  I need all of your help for this to grow and become a valuable lenten resource for everyone!  Kali Sarakost and Kali Dynami!

15 thoughts on “Lenten Meal Plan

  1. Pingback: Google
    1. Hello Evpraxia!

      So glad you found me too! How exciting for your family! I hope some of the recipes come in handy on your adventure. Please keep us posted! <3 Blessed lenten journey to you!

  2. I LOVE the color coding! Lovely! And that braised shrimp looks pretty good too! I bet it would be great with riced cauliflower or spaghetti squash!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *