Lent 2023: The Best Food Deals You Can Find

Lent is a 40-day holiday observed by Christians that extends from Ash Wednesday to the Thursday before Easter. Lent involves many traditions, including taking care of the less fortunate (referred to as giving alms) and abstaining from certain foods during the Lenten season. For instance, it's common for Christians to forgo eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Doing so shows that those who observe are committed to improving their self-restraint, a characteristic that is highly valued in the Christian religion.

Of course, that doesn't mean people can't indulge during the holiday. While meat is off the table, many Christians turn to seafood during the Lenten season. Lots of churches and other establishments hold fish fries during this time of the year, which provides parishioners with tasty, breaded fish sandwiches to whet their appetites. 

But you don't need to observe Lent to take part in the great seafood deals that abound during the season. Just head to a local fast-food establishment to check out the fish-centric menus.

Get your Lenten specials while they're hot

The gold standard of Lenten fast-food offerings, McDonald's Filet-O-Fish is an all-time favorite. The sandwich is especially popular during the lead-up to Easter, though it's available at the fast-food giant year-round. Another fan-favorite Lenten spot, Popeyes, has brought back its flounder sandwich and Shrimp Tackle Box. Taco Cabana has brought back its shrimp-centric menu options, too. Burger and custard spot Freddy's is offering a crispy fish sandwich for the season. And Carl's Jr. and Hardees are offering pollock sandwiches through April 19.

For a bit of variety with your Lenten feast, Long John Silver's is another solid option for fish-centric meals. The chain is offering three seafood specials for the Lenten season, including $6 Shrimp Baskets and $10 family-sized meals that feature Alaskan pollock, grilled shrimp, batter-dipped shrimp, and popcorn shrimp. Del Taco, too, has brought back its jumbo crispy shrimp tacos, complete with a new "buttery garlic parmesan" flavor option. Red Lobster customers can order the $13.99 "Fish Fry Friday" special, which features battered cod and fries.

White Castle's shrimp nibblers have returned, and the chain has also launched a sriracha version of the fan-favorite meal. Culver's beloved Northwoods walleye sandwich is back through April 9. Speedway, Stripes, and 7-Eleven are offering fish sandwiches — and they're just $2 on Fridays. And while Smokey Bones is best known for its meat-forward BBQ menu, the chain's Lenten deals include a $20.99 shrimp and grits plate and a $22.99 cajun brown sugar fish meal.

A burger during Lent? Impossible

If seafood isn't your thing, you can also find other delicious non-meat foods to celebrate Lent. The advent of plant-based "meats" means that a person can get the full burger experience without the meat content. You can even enjoy a tasty plant-based burger from local fast-food establishments, such as Burger King, which is home to the Impossible Whopper. While there are plenty of plant-based options out there, Impossible burgers have a special ingredient that makes them taste more authentic than other brands. This ingredient is called heme, a molecule rich in iron that is most often found in red meat. But unlike red meat, the heme molecule used in the Impossible Whopper is sourced from soy plants.

Despite the lack of meat in Impossible Whoppers, there is still some debate about whether meatless meat is an acceptable Lenten meal. As Newsweek explains, some Christians wonder if plant-based meats bely the self-discipline component of fasting. After all, are you really sacrificing anything if you're indulging in a product that looks and tastes just like meat? Others claim that the lack of meat in these products makes them fair game during Lent. As with many religious debates, easy answers are hard to come by. (If you want a Lenten meal that doesn't mimic the taste of meat, Chick-fil-A is testing a fried cauliflower sandwich.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of Lent-friendly restaurant options to choose from to ensure you remain in the good graces of your higher authority.