Food during Lent

I decided that for Lent this year, I’m only going to make the same few foods over and over. For one thing, I don’t want to cook, and there are reasons for that:

  • Standing hurts, so I do it as little as possible.
  • I have to cook from scratch due to IgG-mediated food allergies and financial restrictions, and that takes longer than throwing together something from a package does. Cooking one big pot of something and using it for several meals means I can cook less frequently. Food during Lent shouldn’t take long to make, in my opinion.
  • Since 90% of the foods I liked and knew how to cook were removed from our diet, I don’t have much interest in making anything anymore. I always loved throwing together different baked goods and dinner dishes. I always cooked from the hip, rarely even glancing at a recipe, and pretty much everyone who tried my food loved it (not so anymore). Doing that with gluten-free, dairy-free dishes doesn’t work very well. It’s just not the same anymore. Is it possible to have “dietary depression” from not being able to eat the foods you like due to dietary restrictions? If so, I’ve got it.
  • There are other things on my to-do list. My kids take up most of my day, still. Lord willing, I’ll live to see the day when they don’t, but for now, I can’t get much done when they’re awake. Just the appointments alone are hard enough. Today, I drove about 110 miles for an errand and an appointment (that the receptionist messed up on, again, which means I’ll have to go try to do that appointment for the third time…and drive another 70 miles to do it). I salvaged the trip, though, by going to three stores in that town to get some things we needed. It wasn’t a total waste, but easily could have been.

Food during Lent should be easy

For another thing, from what I understand (which isn’t that much on this topic), the idea is to get our minds off of food during Lent so we have more time to focus on God and penitence. It seems very counterintuitive to me—if the powers that be want us to get our minds off of food during Lent, making special rules and keeping us hungry all the time sure does not seem like the way to do it. If food during Lent is supposed to be quick and easy, the fasting rules don’t seem to be conducive to that in this day and age. But what do I know?

Fasting and hunger pangs

It would be easier to stop thinking about food if we didn’t eat any at all, because hunger pangs stop after about the third day. Of course, I’m sure my doctor would have an absolute fit about that one—as it is, last year she almost ordered me to go back to eating meat because of the muscle weakness and fatigue I was experiencing. This year, though, our Father Confessor told our family to fast only on MWF. Maybe there aren’t many people who could go 40 days without food. I went about 30 days without food as a kid (not by choice), but it nearly killed me and triggered metabolic problems. Not something I’d recommend.

I saw Adventures of an Orthodox Mom creating an elaborate menu for Lent, and I thought no way am I doing that. I thought I should do the same half a dozen meals over and over. We only do about ten repeatedly anyway, these days. Boring gluten-free, dairy-free living. It could be so much more, I know, but not in this house.

Someone suggested that for food during Lent I should do the same meal each Monday for dinner, a different one for every Tuesday of Lent, etc. I like that idea so much I already do that throughout the year (when I haven’t fallen off the wagon and stumbled into haphazard dinner-making land, that is). I was thinking even simpler than that. Along the lines of “Let’s make beans, rice, potatoes, oats, salads, fruit, and that is it,” and, “If I can cook for one hour right now, and make enough food to last us all week…”

So guess what I made when the kids and I got back from that long and nearly wasted trip today?

  • 6 quarts of salad that I vacuum sealed in jars (I found a way to do it that only requires a hand pump, a pushpin, a piece of tape, and a jar with a lid. I found the vacuum pump today for just 40¢!),
  • a pressure cooker full of pinto beans (I canned some of them and froze some of them),
  • a gallon of vegetable soup (I canned it), and
  • french fries for tonight’s dinner. My husband took care of the burgers while I did the fries. (Don’t freak out. It’s okay – our family’s only supposed to be meatless on MWF, remember?)

So for the next week, we’ll only have to make a pot of rice or fry up some potatoes each day. The rest is done. The next time I cook, I’m making a boatload of fish patties and freezing them. It might be a few days, though. My feet and hips are really hurting. My hips have been hurting a lot lately, and I’m not sure why, but after today, with all that walking and standing and cooking on hard floors, I’m hurting even more and not ready to cook again tomorrow.

I found a slow cooker recipe book today for a couple of dollars, and I’ll try some of the recipes in it. I say “some” because the ones that call for noodles or dumplings or anything like that won’t work with gluten free pastas—it will be mush. I love the dump it and forget it kind of cooking, and used to use our slow cookers all the time. At one point, we had six of them—two of the standard 3 QT size and the rest were all different sizes. Now, we just have one 3 QT Rival brand Crockpot. And it doesn’t get much use, I must say. Maybe we can change that.

Increase prayer time

Will I take the three hours a day I “should” be cooking and cleaning the kitchen, and put it into prayer? No, most likely, I will not. First of all, I don’t spend that much time in the kitchen anymore. I used to spend about 5 hours every day in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up afterward, but that was before I moved into a house with concrete floors. I love them—they are beautiful—but I can’t stand for long on them. So I normally only spend about an hour a day in the kitchen now, if that. With this kind of cooking for Lent, it should give me about five hours a week of “extra” time. I think we could increase our prayer and spiritual learning time by that much, but that’s about it. Another reason we’re not going to do three hours a day is there is no way the kids could tolerate it. I don’t know if I could, either, frankly. One step at a time, please.