Friday meatless lunch. Not difficult.

Fridays are days of penance, which in the normal course of things means not eating meat.

Which also means that it is the only day I really want a cheeseburger.

Instead of a cheeseburger, for lunch I had these.





How do you usually perform your regular Friday penance?

This is part of our Catholic identity.  It is also an obligation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jerricka says:


    I eat tuna only during Lent because it is very penitential for me. Yuck.

  2. Toan says:

    I’ve decided (and have started) to take cold showers on Fridays.

  3. Nan says:

    Grilled cheese, hummus on pita bread or omelet with cheese and mushrooms. Not eating meat is penitential only in that others comment about being early for Lent. Abstaining from fish would be greater penance.

  4. MJ says:

    Today I had tuna as well! Love 3-bean salad, too. I usually make my tuna with mayo and sliced green olives (the ones that are stuffed with pimentos). Sounds strange, but wow it’s good! I used to prefer albacore, but after I heard that albacore has more mercury than the other stuff, I now stick with chunk light tuna.

  5. David Homoney says:

    I avoid meat. I usually do some kind of fish. I don’t know what I’m doing for dinner tonight, but for lunch is was cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese made with pepperjack.

  6. edwardswyco says:

    I generally try to avoid eating meat; I only started doing this last year. As time has gone on, my wife and I have been blessed with rediscovering the traditions that we’ve always been told had been done away with. We knew that meatless Fridays were usually no longer obligatory in the US, but had never heard the second part, that it is still a day of penance. So we’ve been working on that. On those rare occasions that I do have meat on a Friday, I say a Chaplet of St. Gertrude for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. But generally, I’ll have already made some vegetarian meals earlier in the week with Fridays in mind. There’s always tuna, as well.

  7. EWTN Rocks says:

    Ooh Fr. Z, both the sandwich and 3-bean salad look good!

    I had 1/2 of a PB & J sandwich. Probably not the most healthful lunch – I need to work on that.

  8. Was at a Diocesan conference of all places today and they served ham sandwiches. Luckily there were also portobello mushroom panini sandwiches which were meatless. And fruit salad. Crab cakes for dinner.

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sushi for lunch – local grocery has made-to-order sushi that’ s quite reasonable.

    Shrimp korma for supper, with basmati rice and a little green salad.

    I’m very fond of seafood, though it’s a little hard to come by this far from the ocean, although I have a Shrimp Dock Connection since my parents live at the Shrimp Capital of the Georgia Coast. If you give the fresh shrimp a gentle wash and then freeze them in a large plastic bag full of water, when thawed they taste just about as good as fresh.

  10. capsela says:

    Are we obligated to do a penance on Fridays? There was a recent discussion on a Catholic NFP internet board about whether or not we are even obligated to perform a penance on Fridays. I have had a priest tell me we should do some sort of penance. Jimmy Akin says we don’t (whose site was used to “prove” we were no longer under any obligation to do a penance on Fridays unless it was a Friday during Lent.) We go meatless on Fridays but that may make me MCTTP ;-)

  11. introibo says:

    Au contraire, capsela, the Code of Canon Law states that in lieu of abstaining from meat, some other penance is required. Though we never hear this preached from the pulpit, do we?

    Friday lunch: peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, tuna salad, frozen pizza, macaroni and cheese (either from scratch or the orange stuff from the box -hey, I have lots of kids) or any leftovers in the fridge that happen to be meatless (often the case, as we usually do meatless dinners on Wednesday).

  12. capsela says:

    Thank you introibo. I don’t have lots of kids (only 4 so far) but your Friday menu sounds a lot like ours. I understood the obligation to still be there, but because someone read a blog where the person has claimed to have studied the documents more than most priests or canonists, that person is an authority on the subject. Case closed. If you disagree you are trying to be MCTTP.

  13. weneleh says:

    I usually go without meat seven days a week so it’s no hardship for me. But every Friday at 5:00 pm I do a holy hour at Church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Definitely not a penance for me — it’s my favorite hour of the week.

  14. marija says:

    I take my six children to morning Mass by myself. If you knew my baby, you’d understand.

  15. Fr. Z can make the most mundane things look good.

    I really, really miss Taco Bell’s Shrimp Burritos and soft tacos for Fridays. They started them right before lent and discontinued them mid-lent. I suppose they weren’t the most penitential thing to eat on Fridays – LOL.

  16. Velveeta on an English muffin — good from the toaster (pre-Velveeta) or from the microwave (hot but not toasted). Peanut butter and honey. (Not as good as my dad makes it, alas. Don’t use those pre-mixed jars from the store; they don’t use nearly enough honey to achieve the right texture and flavor.) Trader Joe tuna, chickpea, and soybean entrees. Rice and beans. Bean burritos. Good old tomato soup and grilled cheese. Sardine sandwiches. Fish and chips. Lots of good stuff you can have on Fridays.

  17. Dr. Eric says:

    Since last year I have, for the most part, abstained from meat and eggs on Wednesdays and Fridays and have followed the Ember Days too. It’s not that difficult. Could we petition the USCCB to get them to re institute the Friday Abstinence rule?

  18. MJ says:

    Suburbanbanshee — Ahhh, a fellow Trader Joe’s fan!! Love that place. Love love love.

  19. Elizabeth D says:

    Since I never eat meat (though very occasionally have a little seafood), I try to abstain from seafood, dairy foods, and eggs on Fridays (and for all of Lent this year).

    I confess that all of my penitential efforts are very lax now in the Easter season.

  20. Kate says:

    McDonald’s fish sandwich meal today. Other days, it’s a bagel with cream cheese (or without), cheese pizza, egg sandwich, calamari, veggies, clam chowder, tuna fish, pasta of any kind, mac and cheese…lots of options, but for some reason on Fridays, I almost always want steak!

  21. TKS says:

    I went back to meatless Fridays a couple of years ago and I hate fish so it’s maybe potatoes, toast, eggs. It’s definitely a penance for me and I used to be jealous of those people who liked fish when I was a kid.

  22. kat says:

    This is all year around:

    lunches: tuna fish sandwich; or pb and J sandwich; or if home, grilled cheese and tomato soup; or cheese quesadilla; egg salad sandwiches. etc; even a hard-boiled egg.

    Dinners: homemade mac and cheese; or Kraft mac and cheese; fish sandwiches (homemade); tuna casserole; bean enchiladas; in summer, macaroni salad; meatless spaghetti; tuna helper meals (like hamburger helper) from a box; if my husband gets his way: shrimp fettucine; clam chowder; vegetable stir fry on rice (with or without shrimp); etc. [old childhood favorite: creamed peas and tuna on toast!]

    I personally hate seafood. My husband likes it and some of my kids do. I will eat breaded fish, or breaded shrimp; or even other shrimp; but I really hate most fresh fish, etc. I love McDonald’s fish fillets!! I love fish and chips from restaurants too; but get it very rarely.

    Friday school lunches are more difficult for two of my children who can’t stand pb and J sandwiches. Sometimes they will take a bagel with cream cheese or the like. I remember as a child I had cream cheese and jelly on bread!

  23. I usually skip lunch altogether on Fridays, except for Easter Friday and sometimes the Friday in the Octave of Christmas. Today my colleagues went to Red Lobster for lunch; I politely had to decline and stayed in the office working instead.

  24. Kaneohe says:

    Meatless Fridays & Wednesdays (Though I will sometimes eat meat on Wednesdays of Christmas and Eastertide, but no other time of the year.) Pasta with clam sauce for tonight!

  25. Mary G says:

    Not being a big meat eater, it is little sacrifice to go without on a Friday. My penance is first to attend Mass, then to refrain from playing games or wasting time on the computer, and then no sweets or strong drink.

  26. Nan says:

    @introibo, remember the Cathedral of which Fr. Z posted photos recently? There you will hear preaching about Friday as a day of penance and all that other crazy stuff, like sins and the need for confession, that everyone says you never hear about in church.

  27. VivaLaMezzo says:

    As a family, we try to go meatless every Friday. We feel that to do so is very much a part of our Catholic identity. However, we all try to do a little something extra in addition to our dietary sacrifice. I have a regular Friday slot in our Adoration chapel. My husband does extra prayers. My daughter attends daily mass at her school and sometimes puts some of her allowance into the poor box.

  28. Patti Day says:

    I like tuna salad, but egg salad is good too. We try to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at 3:00 or say the rosary together.

  29. PaterAugustinus says:

    No meat, no dairy, try to wait until 3:00 pm to eat.

    The traditional custom is to dispense with all fasting requirements during Paschaltide, up through the octave of Pentecost (i.e., Trinity Sunday), though some different customs were observed with regard to the Rogation Days before Ascension and the Whitsun Ember Days. Do modern-day Roman Catholics have a sense of the whole of Paschaltide as a fast-free period, or at least the Octave of Pascha? When does Catholicism resume the Friday fasts? Was this fast-free Paschaltide only an ancient observance of the West, or would our Great-Grandparents have grown up in a time when fasting was not observed during this season? Sometimes I’m not sure what Catholicism has simply forgotten, what with the disappearance of regular fasting customs in recent decades, and what has long been out of force.

    In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, more recent customs call for the observance of abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays in Paschaltide, but continue to omit fasting. Our official custom in the Russian Orthodox Church’s Western Rite, is to observe Abstinence on penitential days (Wednesdays/Fridays/Rogations/Embers) between Low and Trinity Sundays, but not fasting. Privately, as I’m currently attending University away from the Monastery, I find a middle ground between the old and newer customs: I only observe abstinence for Rogations and Embers, and not the weekly station fasts. There are plenty of fast days in the year, and Paschaltide should stand out as a time largely free from them. The Rogations make sense as days of penance, even within Paschaltide (the Lord is about to “leave,” in a sense), and the Whitsun Ember Days also make sense (“when the bridegroom is no longer with them, then they will fast”). But, otherwise, I like to keep this season free of almost all acts of penance and asceticism. We’re actually not even allowed to make prostrations during this time of the year, or to kneel in the services!

    I personally neither fast nor obstain during Paschaltide (though I go meatless on the Ember Days).

  30. PaterAugustinus says:

    Oops! Forgot to delete the last line of the above post… it escaped the editing process!

  31. bookworm says:

    Personally I would suggest that Friday penance be either fasting or abstinence — if you choose not to do one, you must do the other, and you are, of course, encouraged to do both if you wish although only one would be obligatory. This would provide a measure of flexibility while insuring that some form of significant bodily penance is done.

  32. irishgirl says:

    Pasta for me on Fridays. If I don’t have shrimp available to go with it, I’ll have frozen veggies in it (broccoli or corn).
    If not pasta, I’ll do eggs-either an omelet or fried.

  33. colospgs says:

    Eggs in the morning, salad topped with tuna in the PM, taco bell in the evening, although the last items are hardly penetential. But sometimes I’ll substitute cheese pizza of breaded fish. I also volunteer a few hours at the soup kitchen on Fridays (There’s penance!!). I heard that some people go out of their way to eat stuff they hate, but it doesn’t look like anyone here does that. All the above sounds delicious!

  34. Elizabeth D says:

    My pastor has emphasized that it has always been the Church’s tradition that one does not fast during Easter. And of course he said that because he believes in fasting and some of us here do fast on a regular basis… outside of Easter. But, as far as I know Friday abstinence begins again for Catholics after the Easter octave.

  35. APX says:

    I didn’t even know it was still an obligation to abstain from meat on Fridays. I was under the impression that it was something from pre-Vatican II and no longer mandatory. My parents only taught me to not eat meat on Fridays in Lent.

  36. Elizabeth D says:

    APX, canon law still says to abstain from meat on all Fridays. In the United States, the bishops’ conference dispensed from that in an ambiguous way, recommending abstinence from meat as the norm of Friday penance–though for a good reason someone could substitute some other form of penance, but it is so ambiguous that some people interpret that Friday penance is actually optional in the US, recommended but not obliged on pain of sin. In Fridays in Lent, abstinence from meat is obligatory for Catholics 14 years or older. Really, anyone who sincerely wants to do as the Church guides them should abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year unless for a serious reason they choose to substitute another penance.

    If I understand correctly, in the not so distant past, Catholics were expected to fast (not just abstain but fast) every Friday outside of Easter, and on rogation days, every day except Sunday in Lent, and a Eucharistic fast from all food or drink from midnight before receiving Communion. The extremely minimal fast/abstinence requirements of Catholics today seem unprecedented in the history of the Church, though we can voluntarily do more than the minimum, and I think love for God and our own spiritual needs should lead us to do so.

  37. Elizabeth D says:

    I should add, that solemnities are never days of fast or abstinence which is why the Friday within the Easter octave is not a day of abstinence.

  38. APX says:

    In the United States, the bishops’ conference dispensed from that in an ambiguous way, recommending abstinence from meat as the norm of Friday penance–though for a good reason someone could substitute some other form of penance, but it is so ambiguous that some people interpret that Friday penance is actually optional in the US, recommended but not obliged on pain of sin

    Hmm…I’m Canadian, so is it possible that the the Canadian Bishop’s Conference completely dispensed Canadian Catholics from this? If I was not living at home right now, this wouldn’t be a difficult thing for me to change, but I don’t prepare the majority of my meals, and I come from a very meat-consuming home and family. It’s a staple food in the house.

    What does this mean for me sin-wise?

  39. Elizabeth D says:

    APX, from what I can find it seems that the Canadian bishops have made a rule similar to the American one. Any Catholic at least 14 years old is obliged to abstain from meat on all Fridays… or, substitute some other penance or acts of charity or piety. And in Canada (unlike the US) the Lenten rule for Friday is apparently actually the same as the rest of the year, you’re actually allowed to substitute something else instead of abstaining from meat, though abstaining from meat is the norm. So, although it would be praiseworthy to try to abstain from meat on Fridays, the important thing is to make sure that you are actually doing something on Fridays.

    The big problem with the lax/ambiguous rule is that most people thought “oh we’re no longer obliged to abstain from meat Fridays!” and then they didn’t actually substitute anything else!! If you make sure you do SOMETHING on Fridays you’re probably okay, sin-wise.

Comments are closed.