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5-Ingredient Lenten Meal Ideas

Struggling to come up with new dinners every Friday? Skip the fish fry and whip up one of these simple 5-ingredient Lenten meal ideas instead. They're perfect for busy families!

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Parmesan Baked Cod

You’ll need just five ingredients for this goof-proof way to keep oven-baked fish moist. My mom is one of the best cooks in the world, and she shared this recipe with me. It’s a favorite. — Mary Hoppe, Pewaukee, Wisconsin
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Easy Glazed Salmon

It takes only four ingredients and a few moments to make this delightful main dish. —Tara Ernspiker, Falling Waters, West Virginia
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Skillet Mac & Cheese

This creamy mac and cheese is so simple it’s almost too easy! Kids always go for the rich cheese flavor, but I’ve never met an adult who didn’t love it just as much. —Ann Bowers, Rockport, Texas
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Mediterranean Tilapia

I recently became a fan of tilapia. The mild taste makes it easy to top with our favorite ingredients. And it’s low in calories and fat. What’s not to love? —Robin Brenneman, Hilliard, Ohio
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Shrimp Pasta Alfredo

My son loves any recipe with Alfredo sauce. As a bachelor, shrimp pasta was one of the first recipes he learned to prepare. Now his children ask for it regularly. Gail Lucas, Olive Branch, Mississippi
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Pesto Halibut

The mildness of halibut contrasts perfectly with the robust flavor of pesto in this recipe. It takes only minutes to get the fish ready for the oven, leaving you plenty of time to get started on your side dishes. Nearly anything goes well with this entree. —April Showalter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Cheesy Black Bean Nachos

Cheesy Black Bean Nachos

We're trying to go meatless once a week, and this dish helps make those meals fun, quick and super delicious. It's a great way to use up beans and canned tomatoes from your pantry. —Cynthia Nelson, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
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Sesame Cilantro Shrimp

On days when I don't feel like spending much time in the kitchen, I reach for shrimp. I can have a hot meal in the table in 10 minutes. —Tami Penunuri, League City, Texas
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Muffin-Tin Lasagnas

This is a super fun way to serve lasagna for make-ahead lunches, potlucks or other fun get-togethers. My daughter took some of these to work and by noon was emailing me for the recipe. —Sally Kilkenny, Granger, Iowa
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Walnut and Oat-Crusted Salmon

I think this recipe gives you the most omega-3 fatty acid bang for your buck! —Cristen Dutcher, Marietta, Georgia
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Bean & Cheese Quesadillas

My son doesn't eat meat, so I created this recipe as a way for me to cook one meal for the family instead of two. It's so easy, my toddler grandson helps me make it! —Tina McMullen, Salina, Kansas
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Strawberry Feta Tossed Salad

A neighbor served this light, wonderful salad at a summer barbecue. I’ve since tried it with many ingredient combinations, but this one draws the most compliments. -Lisa Lesinski-Topp Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
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Polenta Chili Casserole

Our Test Kitchen created this delicious vegetarian bean and polenta bake that combines spicy chili, mixed veggies and homemade polenta. It's a warm and comfy casserole that is sure to please everyone, vegetarian or not.
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Brown Sugar-Glazed Salmon

Pop these protein-packed salmon fillets in the oven before whipping up a sweet basting sauce. This tangy entree cooks up in minutes making it a perfect meal for busy families and unexpected weekend guests. —Debra Martin, Belleville, Michigan
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Apple, White Cheddar & Arugula Tarts

These tarts remind me of growing up in Michigan. Add meat if you like or keep it light. I always like to garnish it with fried prosciutto. —Maria Davis, Hermosa Beach, California
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Grilled Lemon-Dill Shrimp

This grilled shrimp is one of my go-to recipes when I stare at the freezer and draw a blank. Add veggies if desired, but grill them separately. —Jane Whittaker, Pensacola, Florida
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Nutty Cheese Tortellini

I like to plant Italian flat-leaf parsley in a long terra-cotta planter so I always have some on hand. It adds bright, fresh flavor to this pasta dish. —Barbara Penatzer, Vestal, New York
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Asian Salmon Tacos

This Asian/Mexican fusion dish is ready in minutes—perfect for an on-the-run-meal! If the salmon begins to stick, add 2-3 tablespoons of water and continue cooking. —Marisa Raponi, Vaughan, Ontario
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Artichoke Blue Cheese Fettuccine

Store-bought Alfredo sauce speeds along this flavorful, meatless entree. I use dry pasta, but you can use refrigerated fettuccine to make this recipe even faster. —Jolanthe Erb, Harrisonburg, Virginia
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Curry Scramble

I have eggs every morning, and this is a delightful change from the classic scrambled egg meal. I like to add sliced peppers on top if I have them on hand. —Valerie Belley, St. Louis, Missouri
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Garlic Lime Salmon

This moist and tender fish is lightly seasoned, so leftovers work well in other recipes. —Gail Uchwat, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
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Spinach-Parm Casserole

For those who ignore Popeye and won’t eat their spinach, I find that spinach with garlicky butter and Parmesan helps change their minds. —Judy Batson, Tampa, Florida
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Haddock with Lime-Cilantro Butter

Here in Louisiana, the good times roll when we broil fish and serve it with lots of lime juice, cilantro and butter. —Darlene Morris, Franklinton, Louisiana
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Spinach and White Bean Soup

For me, soup is love, comfort, happiness and memories. With all its veggies and beans, this one appeals to my kitchen-sink style of cooking. —Annette Palermo, Beach Haven, New Jersey
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Lemon-Butter Tilapia with Almonds

Sometimes I want a nice meal without a ton of effort or wait time. Thankfully, I have this lemony, buttery fish that's super fast and totally tasty. —Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia
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Cream Cheese & Chive Omelet

The first bite of creamy filling lets you know this isn’t any old omelet. Make it once, and we suspect you’ll be fixing it often. —Anne Troise, Manalapan, New Jersey
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Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

The super-fast marinade for this salmon recipe combines maple syrup and teriyaki sauce which also creates a delicious sweet-and-sour glaze. The salmon stays extremely moist and is really yummy. —Lenita Schafer, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

When I was a girl, Mama used Texas longhorn cheese in this recipe. After it melted all over the macaroni, I loved to dig in and see how many strings of cheese would follow my spoonful. —Imogene Hutton, Brownwood, Texas
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Citrus Avocado Spinach Salad

Tossing this salad together with creamy avocado and tangy citrus is so simple, and it practically makes a meal of itself. —Karole Friemann, Kimberling City, Missouri
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Creamy Skillet Noodles with Peas

I’ve made this creamy noodle side for years. Since kids and adults go for it, I keep the ingredients on hand at all times. —Anita Groff, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania
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Baked Egg & Stuffing Cups

Save your leftover stuffing to make shells for holding baked eggs. This is a hearty breakfast that keeps us going for the marathon shopping trips. —Karen Deaver, Babylon, New York
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Toasted Ravioli Puffs

I call toasted ravioli a fan favorite because it disappears faster than I can make it. With just five ingredients, this is how you start the party. —Kathy Morgan, Temecula, California
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Tomato & Avocado Sandwiches

I'm a vegetarian, and this is a tasty, quick and healthy lunch I could eat for every meal. At my house, we call these sandwiches HATS: hummus, avocado, tomato and shallots. These are ingredients I almost always have on hand. —Sarah Jaraha, Moorestown, New Jersey
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Quick Clam Chowder

Not only is this soup a quick fix, but it's oh-so-tasty. Dressing up canned soups allows you to enjoy the comfort of clam chowder with a fraction of the work. —Judy Jungwirth, Athol, South Dakota

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.

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