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Easy Shabbat in an hour – Quick Menu Plans and Ideas

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Is it possible to make Shabbat in an hour? I know it is – I’ve done it! Check out these quick and easy menu plans and ideas and then head on over to check out my list of Shabbat lunch ideas! This post contains affiliate links.


It’s a problem that many women face: they work until close to Shabbat in the winter months. So how can they possibly get all the foods prepped on time?

Today I’m sharing some ways to make that possible.

Everyone’s schedules and needs – and food preferences – look different. For some, takeout might be an option. For some a 3-course meal is a requirement. Some are just trying to feed a small family and others might be looking to host. Because of these factors, when sharing how to make Shabbat in an hour, it doesn’t make sense to give you a schedule. It makes more sense to stick to a list of suggestions to make things go quicker on Friday afternoon.

My suggestion is that you roughly time these quick Shabbat menu ideas and figure out just what you can do.

Find the formula of the suggestions below, divided into different time-management categories, that makes sense for your Friday schedule. And make sure to download this Shabbat menu planner and shopping list!

Some of Shabbat in an hour ideas figure that you have an hour before Shabbat, but have other snippets of time. If you don’t, you will need to stick to the ideas that are exclusive to Friday afternoon.

Prepping Thursday Night

Grabbing another hour Thursday night to do a little prep can take the weight off Friday afternoon. While I’ve spent Thursday nights in the kitchen, this is not what I’m referring to. It’s not easy to dedicate an evening to extra cooking when you’re already working hard.

These ideas are really just quick prep ideas so that you can get things going faster on Friday afternoon.

You can also prep Friday morning if you just have 15-30 minutes worth of things to do, or if you’re able to wake up extra early to get things going.

  • Prep your cholent ingredients in the crock pot Thursday night and put it up Friday morning.
  • Chicken soup is tastiest if it simmers for hours. You can do the same: prep it in the crock pot insert Thursday night and switch it on Friday morning. Right when you arrive home, transfer to a pot and put up your cholent. Take it a step further and have your cholent ingredients mostly prepared (minus some liquid) in a 2-gallon ziploc bag.
  • Prep your roasted dishes in the pans that you’ll be cooking them in the night before and refrigerate. Add any seasoning, liquids, etc.

Quick Dishes to Cook

Choosing your recipes wisely makes all the difference!

Tips for cooking things faster

Some dishes take quicker to cook than others. Anything that needs time in the oven should obviously not be done Friday afternoon.

Roast potatoes take time to cook through. You can “parboil” them in advance by adding a drop of liquid to your pan of potatoes and baking them covered in the oven. Then roast them fresh.

Vegetables tend to roast quickly, making them a fabulous option.

Simple roasted or broiled foods in general are my personal choice for winter Fridays.

Spice mixes make everything easier. My basic formula for foods for Winter shabbat is food+drizzle olive oil + sprinkle generously with salt and spice mix. Roast.

Chicken cutlets tend to cook much faster than chicken on the bone. If you don’t like white meat, drumsticks are a better option than whole legs.

One dish dinners

One dish meals are a fabulous way to majorly scale down your food prep. For example, baking your chicken on rice with broccoli or carrots added to the pan can be delicious. However, they sometimes take longer to cook. Note cooking time. This is a great option for those of us who have only an hour to food prep and more time at home, but need it to clean and shower, bathe the kids, etc. Some ideas:

  • Chicken + Rice + Broccoli
  • Chicken + Potatoes + Carrots
  • Chicken + potatoes + cauliflower
  • Couscous. I still remember having a fabulous plate of authentic Tunisian couscous, topped with soup, at my friend’s grandfather’s house near Paris. It was the most incredible thing I ever had.

    And the cool thing is that couscous doesn’t even need to be cooked properly! Just add hot water per package instructions and let it sit. When it’s fully absorbed just fluff. The soup topping is a “double dip”. It’s how I turn a simple chicken soup into an all-in-one dinner that’s really special. I use stew meat to make it extra delicious.

    And while sautéing does take time, if it’s all you’re doing for Friday night, it’s totally doable. You can also double-batch and freeze it.

Use mixes

There are so many semi-prepped foods on the grocery shelves! For example, rice or couscous mixes are a popular option. Pre-seasoned poultry just needs to be baked. Mixed frozen vegetables make faster roasted veggies.

No-cook Ideas

Not everything needs to be cooked in advance. When I have guests but don’t have time, I focus my day meal on salads. And in the summer we pretty much do salmon and a salad when we don’t have guests.

Fresh salads

  • You can do a grain salad for a filling option. Many grains, such as rice, farro, or sushi, take 5 minutes of prep and can be cooked in the oven. ,
  • A leafy salad goes over well. Add in deli or leftover chicken cutlets from the night before for a meaty salad.
  • I love making a few little side salads, such as shredded carrot salad (I purchase the carrots pre-shredded), pepper salad, corn salad, or cucumber salad (best done in the food processor but it can be done Thursday night, and it’s doable with a peeler on Shabbat.) Other ideas: chickpea salad (open/drain chickpea cans in advance), beet salad (purchase cooked, vacuum sealed beets), grape tomato salad, Avocado + tomato + hearts of palm salad…

There’s always takeout!

While not an option for everyone every time, here are some single dish ideas that are easier to take out:

  • Sushi – a single sushi platter can be a real treat for the sushi-loving family, either as the whole meal or as the first course, whatever floats your boat.
  • KugelsIf you’re angling for an extra side but just don’t have the time, kugel is a fabulous, relatively affordable option. You don’t need a lot since it’s a side. And it’s so time-consuming, it’s worth doing as takeout.
  • Soup – A quart of soup is surprisingly inexpensive. It doesn’t usually come with a lot inside, but it’s a great starting point. Toss in a zucchini (takes a minute) and a handful of baby carrots so you have actual veggies inside. Serve it with soup nuts.
  • Schnitzel – Another time-consuming but Shabbat lunch-friendly option, schnitzel is a great takeout choice.

Freezables

If you find yourself prepping Shabbat in an hour often, having a freezer for food prep is so valuable! But even if you don’t have a ton of freezer space, you can still prep in advance with some of my space-saving tips.

Always label your freezer items with prep instructions (add xxx water, etc)

  • Kugel – freeze these in 9×9 square pans. They don’t take a ton of space.
  • Soup – freeze minus some of the liquid – a “condensed” version.
  • Fried onions – Cut using the slicing blade on your food processor. Batch “fry” onions in the oven or crock pot. Freeze in small amounts (1/4-half a cup) in ziploc bags. They take up almost no space and save so much time on things like soups, rice, potatoes, and anything else that calls for sautéing onions.
  • Appetizers – On a typical Shabbat I don’t go crazy with appetizers, but if you like a “wow” app or side, you can freeze grape leaves, bourekas, etc. They are a huge patchke but great to have available if you like to have guests as an extra side or want something truly special to pull out on an otherwise ordinary Shabbat.
  • Toppings – I love having pre-made “mixes” for some of my favorite fish dishes. I prep the topping for Moroccan salmon – minus a can of sauce and a can of chickpeas and freeze it in 16 oz containers. Then, I just need to place the salmon in a pan, add drained chickpeas and a can of sauce, and my freezer topping. Bake according to the recipe. It turns half an hour of cooing into 5-10 minutes of “dump and serve.” I do the same with caramelized onions + lemon juice for a marinated salmon. Pasta toppings, rice toppings, and other freezer-friendly mixes can be prepped this way.

Prepackaged food options

A compromise between grocery shopping and no-prep takeout, there are things on your grocery shelves that make for instant Shabbat food.

  • Stuffed grape leaves – you can get these in a can! Just make sure to heat before serving – it’s so much better.
  • Delis and charcuterie – a wow centerpiece for a Shabbat with guests. Get 2-3 types of deli or cured meats, olives, pickles, pretty crackers and flatbreads, some cool mustards…
  • Kugels – there are companies that make these as regular stock shelf items.
  • Jarred gefilteThis is controversial, but okay! Frozen gefilte almost counts as well. This is what I use. Just place in a loaf pan, add an inch of water, cover, and bake for 1.5 hours (assuming you have the cook time and not the active time.

More tips for faster Shabbat prep

Remember: it’s not a mitzvah to eat excessively. Focus on the quality of your food not quantity. Use a better cut of meat, splurge on capons instead of chicken on the bone, purchase a fancy sauce that’ll upgrade your “dump and roast” dishes.

It’s okay to skip the guests. In some communities there’s a heavy pressure to not have Shabbat meals alone. However, while it’s fabulous to invite others, your family comes first. It it’s too much to handle, or if it’ll compromise your oneg Shabbat just do without. It does not make you a lesser person.

Ask for help. It’s a great experience for your kids to help with the prep. You can let them (?)

Food allergies make things like takeout more complicated – it’s something I deal with personally. And before we were dealing with allergies, we were dealing with a very tight budget. If something doesn’t work for you, move on to the next idea. It can be hard to listen to people say things like “we just do takeout on weeks like this” and wish you could say the same. It’s not worth dwelling on – just move to the next one on the list. It’s doable.

Sample Shabbat in an hour menu plans

Here are some actual Shabbat plans that require an hour or less of Friday prep. Time gauges are active time when I can’t do anything else.

Friday night:

  • Challah with dips (purchased)
  • Couscous with hearty soup topping (half an hour)

Shabbat lunch:

  • Salmon with magic salmon seasoning (5 min.)
  • Gefilte fish (done by my 9 year old, 5 min)
  • Corn salad – corn, hearts of palm, pickles, pepper. Prepped on Shabbat after shul. (5 min max to open cans).

Misc:

  • Cook eggs so that I can prepare egg salad for the kids’ dinner (5 min)
  • Cook pasta for the kids just in case (7 min.)

Active time: 27 min.

Here’s a menu plan for when you have guests.

Friday Night:

  • Chicken soup prepped Thursday night, put up Friday morning in slow cooker (20 min prep Thursday night, 2 min. active time Friday morning to put up, 2 min active time afternoon to transfer to pot.)
  • Noodles (5 min including drain and rinse time). This can be done as early as Thursday night and does not need to wait till Friday afternoon!
  • Roasted chicken breast with Trader Joe’s coffee rub (10 min. to cut, marinate in morning, 5 min)
  • Rice (5 min, made in oven)
  • Roasted broccoli (5 min)
  • Canned stuffed grape leaves (2 min to add to pan to heat)
  • Purchased vegetable kugel (2 min. to transfer to oven dish and heat)

Shabbat lunch:

  • Gefilte fish in the oven (I make this every week for M) – 5 min.
  • Sushi Salad (5 min to put up sushi rice, the rest is done fresh)
  • Mushroom barley soup with beef – 15 min active. To save time, I use sliced mushrooms and cut stew beef. It would take even less time if I used fried onions from the freezer.
  • Pepper salad (done on Shabbat)
  • Deli platter/charcuterie (done on Shabbat)
  • Leafy salad (done on Shabbat)

Misc:

  • Challah and dips are all purchased.
  • If there’s extra time, I’d put together Duncan Hines brownies in about 10 min.
  • Eggs for the week won’t be cooked Friday.
  • Seudat shlishit is leftover fish, freshly prepped salads, cut fruit, and challah and dips.

Active time:

  • Thurs: 20 min
  • Friday morning: 12 min
  • Friday afternoon: 51 min

Tip: if there are a lot of 2-minute tasks, it makes sense to not save those all for Friday afternoon. I can also prep all the things that just need heating in the morning to take one minute to transfer to the oven. I also try not to max out the time schedule if I have too many little things, since some might take longer.

No extras – desserts, dips, etc should be done on Friday. You can also purchase things like toffuti cuties, parve ice cream + toppings, babka, candy platters, etc for desserts.

Leftover chicken from Friday night can be used to top salad or sliced into strips and placed on the charcuterie board.

Here’s a medium sized menu plan to balance things out.

Friday night:

  • Veggie soup from the freezer (5 min to retrieve and put up)
  • One dish chicken, potatoes, and broccoli (15 min. prep)

Shabbat lunch:

  • Gefilte (5 min)
  • Salmon – simple roasted with spices (5 min)
  • Cholent – prepped Thurs night in the fridge, put up Fri morning (20 min. Thursday, 2 min. Friday AM)
  • Potato kugel from the freezer or takeout (2-5 min to reheat.)
  • Salad – prepped fresh.

Active time:

  • Thurs: 20 min
  • Friday morning: 2 min
  • Friday afternoon: 30 min

Got any tips to add for making a short on time and easy Shabbat in an hour or less? Comment below!

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