The Lent 2013 Challenge Rules: Fast, Cheap and Easy

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So our goal is to live in solidarity with the working poor this Lent. Here is how we’re going to do it:

  1. Make a whole Lent of meals for five people on $90/week.
  2. Each meal must be made in 20 minutes or less.
  3. Meals are to be made “from scratch.”  More on that shortly, because I have some questions about this one.
  4. No more than a total of two hours can be used during each weekend to prepare items that will be used in the following week’s meals.  
  5. All the Pre-Vatican II fasting rules are in effect.

Now, I’m curious, how do you define “from scratch”?  To me it’s basically not cooking with anything that is advertised on television.  Store-brand dried pasta is okay… but is store-brand spaghetti sauce in a meal “from scratch?”  What about things like canned beans instead of dried, or instant potato flakes instead of boiling and mashing from scratch, or tortillas in a bag rather than hand-pressed at home?  That 20 minute rule will require some cutting of corners, but which ones are the most realistic?

This week, as an additional part of my (very last minute) research for this challenge, I plan to do the following:

  1. Contact a nutritionist about how to make our meals as healthy as possible under the rules listed above. 
  2. Contact the local WIC office to ask them what kitchen gadget would help their “average” client make meals more quickly, cheaply and healthily (I’m having a moment where I’m wondering if “healthily” is even a word).  Does the average client have a microwave?  A slow cooker?  A stick blender, food processor, kitchen mixer?  What would help most?  Looking at this challenge has made me appreciate my kitchen robots more than ever.
  3. Contact the county food cupboard and ask them the same question.

Those last two questions might seem a little odd.  What we typically do each Lent to increase our almsgiving is tithe our grocery budget in addition to what we already give.  This year our goal is to save up enough money to donate the most needed kitchen appliance to the local food cupboard, for them to give to a client in the most need.

On another note, last Lent was The Lent of Beer.  If we are trying to live in solidarity with families who must buy their food with EBT (food benefits), we probably shouldn’t be cooking with alcohol.  I hope this doesn’t mean I have to cook with store-bought cooking wine.  Blech.

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About Erin McCole Cupp
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her short writing has appeared in Canticle Magazine, The Catholic Standard and Times, Parents, The Philadelphia City Paper, The White Shoe Irregular, Outer Darkness Magazine, and the newsletter of her children’s playgroup. She is a contributor to CatholicMom.com and has been a guest blogger for the Catholic Writers Guild. Her other professional experiences include acting, costuming, youth ministry, international scholar advising, and waiting tables. When Erin is not writing, cooking or parenting, she can be found reading, singing a bit too loudly, sewing for people she loves, gardening in spite of herself, or dragging loved ones to visitors centers at tourist spots around the country. Find out more about her novels and other projects at erinmccolecupp.com .

14 Responses to The Lent 2013 Challenge Rules: Fast, Cheap and Easy

  1. Wow! This is going to be interesting. I’m following you with great anticipation 🙂

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