Leaven Blog

Surviving Lent

by Todd Habiger

One of the prevailing memories of Lent during my teenage years is coming home on a Friday night around midnight to find my dad frying a hamburger. 

Dad was a good Catholic and a rule follower. He didn’t eat meat on Friday. 

But come 12:01 a.m., it was game over and the no-meat stipulation was officially off. He savored that midnight burger.

As it was for my Dad, Lent is tough on me because I like my food. I like meat. 

I got the idea for this blog from an article The Leaven will soon publish from a Catholic News Service reporter who ranked the various fast food fish sandwiches.

Well, I detest fish. Hate, hate, hate fish. 

Let me add this side note here. When I refer to fish, I’m referring to things with fins and gills. 

Shell fish are a whole different ballgame.  You may think that’s cheating, but hey, my list, my rules. 

So, in order to “survive” Lent, I’ve got to have an eating plan. I just can’t wing it on a meatless day and expect it to go well. 

In order to help my fellow fish-haters, therefore, I’m sharing my meal plan for all the Fridays of Lent.

March 8 – Blueberry Morning cereal. Ok, so this wasn’t the most well-thought-out plan I ever had. I had originally planned to fast this day, but, alas, by 5 p.m. I was starved and getting “hangry.” Something had to be done. 

So, I did what I always do when I need food in a pinch. I grabbed a bowl of my favorite breakfast cereal. 

Growing up, I would eat breakfast cereal for supper whenever Mom didn’t feel like cooking. So, this worked great after the failed fast. 

March 15 – Yard House grilled cheese

Yeah, I’m looking forward to this one. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese. This is the Cadillac of grilled cheeses. Made with four types of cheese on artisan bread, this mouth-watering treat will make you long for Lent.

Add a cup of tomato bisque and you’ve got yourself a meal. Yard House can be a little pricey, but believe me,  this grilled cheese is well worth it.

March 22 – Panera mac and cheese in a bread bowl

Panera has an excellent mac and cheese. In fact, it’s one of my son’s favorite meals. Made with Vermont white cheddar, this is really a tasty offering. Toss it in a bread bowl and you’ve got something special.

Hey, who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s the ultimate kids’ meal. Why not make it the ultimate adult meal this Lent?

March 29 – Price Chopper crab rangoon

I love Chinese food. There used to be a Chinese place near The Leaven that knew my order so well I didn’t even have to give my name over the phone. Sadly, the owner sold that business and the food kind of went downhill. 

Thankfully, I’ve found a replacement. It just happens to be in my local Price Chopper and they make excellent crab rangoon. I hear you people out there saying that crab rangoon isn’t a meal. 

I beg to differ. Six of those little guys are enough to get me through the evening — just as long as I don’t think about the fat content.

April 5 – Red Lobster lobster tail

The first time I went to a seafood place as a young boy, I wanted to order the chicken tenders. My Dad encouraged me to branch out and try something different. 

Slightly annoyed at his “suggestion” I scanned the list for the most expensive thing and asked for the lobster tail.

It was a match made in heaven. My attempt to get back at my dad, ended with me finding a little slice of heaven. So each Lent, I treat myself to a nice lobster tail. It’s not cheap, of course. I think this is karma’s way of getting back at me.

April 12 – Casey’s cheese pizza

Some people with blow this off as “gas station pizza.” Let me tell you, if you’ve never eaten a Casey’s pizza, you’re totally missing out. Casey’s reminds me of what Pizza Hut used to taste like — you know, when it was really good.

The Casey’s cheese is top notch. It’s got a rich flavor that the taste buds can’t resist. The crust is nice and soft. You don’t have to choose between 20 deluxe crusts — you get one and you like it. 

Trust me: This is the best pizza going today.

So, there you have it: my eater’s guide to surviving Lent. 

Bon appetit! 

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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