Chopped: My Version of Lenten Meal Planning

Chopped: My Version of Lenten Meal Planning

Once again, Sylvia and I are on the same wave length.  While her approach to meal planning during Lent looks absolutely fantastic, I take a slightly different approach.  I’ve never met her in person (talked to her via the webinar practice session and would LOVE to meet her in person some day!), but I have drawn the conclusion from her blog that she’s a logical-sequential learner especially from her well thought out menu planning.  I, on the other hand, am a visual-spatial learner.  I think in pictures – especially when it comes to cooking.  (In my opinion, Pinterest is the greatest thing ever invented for visual-spatial learners!)  I’m going to be going into learning styles a bit more in future posts because it directly affects how we learn best – thus how we function in daily life and educate ourselves and our children – but for now, I’ll summarize and move on.

So…if you regularly meal plan for the week (or further ahead) before you go to the grocery store and then buy what you need for making those meals, then you’re probably a logical-sequential learner and you’ll do best with Sylvia’s approach to meal planning for Lent.  (I highly recommend you go read her post – it’s impressive!)

If you go to the grocery store and pick up your normal staples (things you use all the time when cooking) and a few things that catch your eye along the way and then make what sounds good to you that night (or create something from the items you have available in your kitchen), then you’re probably a visual-spatial learner and might benefit from my approach below.

Many years ago, my sister-in-law teased me that if she gave me a carrot, a potato, and a hot dog and asked me to make a meal from it, that I’d present the entire family with a feast fit for a king.  Obviously, she was exaggerating a bit but I realized that when I cook I almost always see it as a fun, nightly challenge for myself.  I open the refrigerator, peek in my cupboard, and then think about what I can make with what is available to me or what I’m in the mood to eat.  My dad and daughter introduced me to the show “Chopped” on Food Network a few years ago.  Um…yes…instantly hooked.  That’s me every night with dinner.

Also, because I tend to go grocery shopping about every 10 days (give or take a few days), early in the week I’ll try to use all my fresh items before I move on to my pantry and freezer staples.

Lenten Staples - Spice Cabinet

Lenten Staples - Pantry and Fridge

The way I was taught to fast also influences the style of Lenten meals I make for my family.  I don’t buy shell fish.  Not that I think it’s wrong to eat it but I was raised that one of the points of fasting is to save up money to give to the poor by purchasing less expensive foods.  Oftentimes, shellfish is equally as expensive or more expensive than the meat I would normally buy.  Therefore, I don’t buy it.  I was also raised that meals should be simple and easy to make because you’re providing yourself with additional time to pray and attend church services.  Therefore, I try to make meals that will either take me less time to make or are easy to take in the car for us to eat on the way to or from church in the evenings.  We normally live 30 minutes away from our church but during Lent when we attend the evening services, we can’t avoid going through downtown during rush hour.  Thus our normal 30 minute drive turns into 1 hour.  I provide homemade lunchables for my kids to eat in the car otherwise we’re eating dinner at 4pm or 9pm.  Either of which makes for whiney kids at some point in the evening.

Fasting is a bit different for myself this Lent as well.  I’ve been advised not to adhere to the strict fast since I’m pregnant and have had a hard time keeping my babies in the past.  I will eat some vegan meals but I’ll eat mostly vegetarian with the occasional meat/egg.  Additionally, I am having to go strict gluten free during my pregnancy.  Both of which will also influence my meal planning this Lent.  I’ve already talked to my kids about it.  I simply explained to them that mommy is pregnant and sometimes needs more protein to help the baby grow so sometimes they’ll be seeing me eat non-fasting foods.  They understood.  So I’ll also be sharing some vegetarian options (not separate meals just tweaks on the meals I make for the rest of my family) for those of you just starting to fast or for those of you with medical needs as well.

Tomorrow I will be posting and sharing my first set of meals made from my staples.  Off to try and make falafels without them falling apart this time!  (Thank you in advance to all the advice on the IL Facebook page!)




  1. Thank you – love this – and I agree on the shellfish, the only time I have it is if I’ve been lucky to have a friend with too much of a catch.

    Your blog is helping me so much this year – I’ve gotten out of the habit due to some major illnesses in the past few years coupled with not being within an 1 hour and a 1/2 traveling distance of a church…online services are a boon. I will make Pascha services though.

    I’m blessed to be able to share in your journey.
    Thank you again.

    • I’m glad it’s benefiting you! Sometimes I feel so vulnerable sharing certain stories but I always approach it from the standpoint that I try to provide information that I would search for myself.

  2. Love this. I’m new to the Russian fast rituals, so this is very helpful. Thanks ×a million.


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