I look around my pantry, and there’s no denying I am blessed. Beyond measure and overflowing. I have shelves full of dry goods, stacks of cans, a freezer packed with fresh meat and vegetables and berries in February! This is the stuff of dreams, people.
Sure, it’s an entire flight of stairs away from my kitchen. Sure, not every item is my absolute favorite, but it’s food. Good, healthy food that at some point, I put down good, solid money to purchase–and by golly, it is going to be appreciated!
One of my favorite things to do in Lent is what I call “eating down the pantry.” Basically, I try to make as many meals as possible from as many pantry and freezer staples as I currently have on hand.
In part, this is simply to give thanks for all that is there and to appreciate those items that, while not being favorites, are still perfectly nutritious and tasty. But it’s more than that.
Using up what I already have saves time. It means my grocery store trips are shorter and more economical. It means I’m not spending so much time getting fancy with my meal planning. It means I tend to cook simple, repeat meals, which saves time in the kitchen.
I don’t know about you, but time is the one resource I seem to run low on more than any of the others.
Cutting down on spending means I have more to give away. Cutting down on time spent planning and preparing meals means I have more to spend with God and my family. Using up the surplus of my pantry shelves means an extra measure of thanksgiving for some of those things I’m not usually consciously grateful for (but should be). It’s a Lenten practice I value, but more than that — it’s helped me to carve out room for other Lenten practices.
To help you with your own Lenten meal prep, I’m attaching a menu template. Feel free to download and print it out, then fill it in with your favorite Meatless Mondays, Fish Fridays, or whatever else you do for Lent. (And if you can, don’t forget to add a meal or two each week made with all that good, nutritious food you’ve already got on hand!)