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So, money is tight...

It is just the two of us, but I just seem to spend so much on Shabbos meals! Any suggestions?

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  1. Make your own challahs and desserts.

    1. I think you need to give us a little more information.

      What are you making and how much do you spend and what would you like to get it down to.

      Are you able to use your leftovers on Sunday or Monday?
      Are you cooking your own or buying pre-made items?

      The obvious suggestion is more vegetarian meals.

      Also -- what part of the US are you in...(takes into account meat prices).

      1 Reply
      1. re: vallevin

        I'm in New York, and like I said it's just the two of us and he likes to eat meat so veg is out. I do make my own dessert and I get Challah for like $2.50 so that's not an issue. I don't like doing take out and yes I will eat leftovers. I'm just tired of roasted chicken and if I try to make something else I wind up spending so much on ingredients.

      2. What's a typical menu like? Are you cooking too much and tossing it?

        We're two people also.. for Friday night I'll make matzah ball soup, rice, chicken or roast, string beans, and peas. There's always leftovers of the chicken or roast which we eat Sunday or Monday with different sides.

        For lunch on Shabbat, I don't make a huge heavy meal. A few salads to start- I rotate-chopped salad, tossed salad, asian coleslaw, red cabbage slaw, blanched string beans, bean salad, spinach/strawberry salad, fennel/arugula salad. Depends on which fruits and veggies are on sale that week. Then one main dish- noodles with meat sauce, roast with onion gravy, chicken marsala, leftover chicken from Fri night dinner. Sometimes I'll buy sliced turkey and I'll make hummus to go with it.

        I don't usually buy bakery cakes or large desserts- we're only two people and I don't want to spend a lot of money one something that we'll have one slice of. I'll make cookies or a berry or apple crisp or a small banana cake.

        Hope this helps

        1. I believe there's a chazal that says your parnasa is fixed for the year except for what you spend on Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. In other words, you back what you spend on Shabbos and Yom tov.

          I'd look for others areas to save

          2 Replies
          1. re: berel

            Berel, I'm not looking to save, trust me I save all week and want Shabbos to be special, but have you gone shopping lately?? A pepper is like $3!!

            1. re: pitagirl

              fruits and vegetables have been crazy lately- but there's always sales and specials. I bought fresh string beans last week for 59cents/lb and japanese eggplant for $1.49/lb. Red and green cabbage is relatively inexpensive as are carrots and celery.

          2. kasha varnishkas
            noodle or potato kugel
            veggie soups
            hummus or chick pea/bean salads
            Israeli cous cous or tabouleh
            Stuffed grape leaves
            Falafel
            Babaganoush
            Unfortunately, kosher meats are very expensive, so perhaps ground meat and whole chickens are the way to stretch your dollars.
            simple roasted chicken
            meatloaf or meatballs (meat, turkey or chicken)
            stuffed peppers or stuffed cabbage
            open face burgers with demi glace sauce (i.e. a Japanese style chopped steak)
            Serve less meat, think vegetarian/Mediterranean and focus on the sides, soups, salads etc.

            1. My wife and I come from large families and we are both the oldest, so when we got married we thought we knew about making Shabbos. After all, we'd been making Shabbos for our families for years!

              Turns out we only knew how to cook for 8+ people! It took a few years of marriage, but eventually, we learned how to cook less, to save money and prevent ba'al tashchis.

              For starters, when it's just the two of us, we'll cook lighter. Instead of a piece of chicken and two sides, we'll make bake a single chicken breast (pounded thin), slice it up, and toss it in a green salad. Throw some croutons in there (we like to crunch up garlic bagel chips) and it's a healthy entree. We're usually too tired to eat anyway Friday night. We also fill up on salads (chumus, tehina, tomato dip, olive dip) that we make ourselves (a jar of raw tehina is like five bucks and lasts for 2-3 months of Shabbosim).

              We make our own challah, which only saves, like $2.00 a week, but that adds up. Does not include the price of the bread machine my in laws bought us, of course. Challah tastes better fresh, too.

              Shabbos day, again, salads, homemade challah, deli instead of schnitzel in the salad with a different dressing so it doesn't get boring (you only need 1/4 lb of deli to make enough salad for two people), and chulent.

              I figure we spend no more than $40 per Shabbos, including wine (but not liquor, because a single bottle of something nice lasts me six months).

              I haven't been able to figure out how to make gefilte fish cheaper than I can buy it, and we rarely have desert. if we do have desert, we make a tiny batch of cookies, no more than 15.

              1. If you husband likes meat the secret of keeping costs down are stewing and sauteing. What you want to do is to focus on the classic stews of all the great culinary traditions that combine the small amounts of beef with vegetables and beans, and serve it over a bed of grain. Maximize the flavor from small portions of meat by browing both the meat and th onions. Extra work but a real flavor enhancer. And the presentation of, say, a small amount of sauteed chicken stewed with chickpeas , carrots, spinach and Moroccan spices on a bed of couscous looks spectacular. If he doesn't like cumin, try a more old fashioned beef stew with root vegetables that are well priced in winter.

                How you serve it makes all the difference. On a platter, with the rice or kasha in a circle around the stew and it looks like Shabbos.

                A tip for a really special finish is to set frozen peas on the counter and let them sit and come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, take the stew off the blech and stir the peas into the stew in a klei sheni. Serve immediately. This works brilliantly in both simple English chicken or beef stews, and in highly-spiced meat stews from India.

                You save because you only need a small amount per person. Buy meat on special and freeze it, you're going to stew it anyway. and buy whatever vegetables are cheap and in season or on special. You can also find cheap sources for spices sold in large containers. Although this is only useful for whichever sices you like well enough to use before they get stale.

                1. For the first course, don't do fish. Fish used to be a cheap food, now it is a super-expensive food. So do a vegetable soup. My favorite recipe is form Deborah Madison. Here is the two person version. Roughly chop and saute one onion in a splash of olive oil. Saute until golden brown. roughly chop 1 large zucchini. Pour in a little water. Simmer. Stick an immersion blender in. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve. It's fabulous and works with any vegetable. Soup is as elegant a first course as fish.

                  Or do a fruit first course when fresh fruit is in season. Use two friuts in contrastion colors. At this time of year, cut 1 grapefruit into chunks, arrange on 2 plates, cut 1 orange, arrange on top of the grapefruit. You have a very pretty first course.

                  I know I know, Bassar v'dagim v'kol matamim. I can sing. Well, actually, i really can't sing. Just focus on the v'kol matamim and serve delicious things. It really doesn't have to include fish to be Shabbos.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: AdinaA

                    For beef, go to Trader Joe's. They have brisket at fabulous prices. Then cut into small portions and freeze.

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      Also, think about cuts of meat, like brisket, that you can cook in a slow cooker. A little goes a long way. Padding out the meat with veg & potatoes will make a satisfying meal. Putting a hunk of meat standing alone on a plate is expensive, and too much protein anyway. Look into using sweet potatoes, much better nutrition wise than white potatoes.

                      1. re: AdinaA

                        The only brisket I've ever seen there has the Triangle-K, which many choose not to use.

                        1. re: queenscook

                          Ocassionally I have seen meat that says GLATT at TJ's,

                          1. re: Prettypoodle

                            Which only means something if you accept the agency that says it's glatt. I've never seen OU glatt beef there, only chicken and turkey, for instance. (Yes, I know that chicken and turkey technically aren't given the glatt designation, but you know what I mean.)

                            1. re: queenscook

                              There seeinboth the meat with GLATT in hufe letters and rhe Triangle K stuff.I dont oay a ton of attenrtion to the meat at TJs as I rately buy meat at all and will prob never buy a roast anywhere.

                              1. re: Prettypoodle

                                Sorry, but I don't understand what you're saying at the beginning of this post.

                              2. re: queenscook

                                I dont know aqbout the trader joes in queens, but the one in merrick often has the same brisket brand that they carry at costco, i think its solomons, not always, ut often

                                i dont know how the price comp[ares, bc i dont get it, but ive definitely seen in a bunch of times, cluding as recent as second week of february

                                1. re: shoelace

                                  I have never seen any Solomon's meat at TJ's in Queens. I'm surprised, if that is actually the brand, because TJ's usually carries the same brands at its various stores. I'll look again the next time I'm there . . . which is usually about once a week.

                                  1. re: queenscook

                                    At one time, Trader Joe's sold the same glatt meat from Colorado that Costco did. I believe that that company is no longer in business. Costco now sells Solomon's glatt and Trader Joe's is selling the triangle K brand.

                      2. Use chicken thighs for roasting, sauteeing etc.. They are cheaper and if you take the main bone out they saute up relatively quickly and can be used different ways using different spices and sauces, add rice and weekly on sale veg and that should be pretty cheap.

                        Make tuna or salmon croquettes with canned tuna or salmon. These actually turn out very tasty and are inexpensive.

                        Make a sunday gravy using a few bones. Just add some beef or lamb bones (which are relatively inexpensive) to a prepared tomato sauce or your own and let it cook for several hours and then shred any meat off the bone into the sauce. You can add some zucinni, carrots or mushroom at the end to cook for until done and then serve over pasta or rice. i used 3 lamb neck bones awhile ago and the sauce ended up with a lot of meat in it.

                        Stuff and roll your chicken breast or thigh. Pound it thin and add in a rice or spinach stuffing, roll up and then saute. "fancy" dish and your really using a lot less meat, one breast could make 2.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: azna29

                          Good idea. Chicken thighs taste better than chicken breasts. Again, Trader Joe's has them at a great price. And if you're not near a Trader Joe's, stock up and freeze.

                        2. Meat: My local grocery sells packages of chicken bones or beef bones very cheaply. They're great for soup, giving you a fleishig first course for a couple of dollars. Expand your chicken repertoire beyond roasting! There are tons of sauteed, grilled (use your broiler if you don't have a grill), stewed, etc. recipes that would greatly diversify your menu without you needing to buy red meat. Don't buy boneless chicken - learn to debone your own if you must have cutlets, and you'll save a ton of money. (There are a ton of instructional videos on YouTube, which is how I learned.) Then, toss the bones into a bag in your freezer for the next time you make soup, and pound the cutlet flat - even big eaters won't take a whole cutlet when it's been pounded to a quarter-inch, because it takes up most of the plate. Cut down on the amount of meat you use in a chulent - I find that many will use a pound for two people, but it's really enough for 4. Chulent is, among other things, a traditional way of stretching a little meat by using it for flavoring the cheap bulk of beans, grains, and potatoes, but we've moved away from this; you can go back to your roots here :)

                          Don't go into the grocery store with a menu that's set in stone - see what vegetables are on sale, then try to incorporate those. When doing menu planning, think about what's currently in season. OK, it's not much in early March, but super summery vegetables like bell peppers are almost certainly going to be much more expensive now than root vegetables, cabbages, and winter squashes. This time of year, I plan on making cabbage based salads (like a mustard-y cole slaw) rather than lettuce-based ones, because it's just so much cheaper. Roast some root vegetables (one type or a mix) with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Make World's Best Braised Green Cabbage, which is truly, truly amazing and costs almost nothing ( http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2... ). Learn to make interesting bean dishes - I can suggest some if you like.

                          1. Thanks everyone! I'll be gong shopping, see what's on sale and decide from there! :)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pitagirl

                              Pitagirl... what you buying and how much are you spending on a weekly basis? If you are spending $3 on single pepper...that's wrong. Maybe you shouldf give up the red peppers and buy green. Or learn how to cook more root vegetables which can be cheaper.

                            2. Under 50 bucks:
                              Friday night: small challah, cook a loaf of fish (royal brand costs about 4.99 or 5.99) and freeze in three portions. chicken soup made with chicken bones only (about 3.50) plus carrot, celery, part of zuchini, parsnip, onion, dill (you can do part of the bones and freeze the rest--use a small pot), two chicken bottoms (freeze the rest) and spice with onion and garlic powder and part of a jar of duck sauce (save the rest in the fridge) and a dash of wine. 1 cup of rice cooked (season as desired) or couscous. fruit or homemade blondies/brownies for dessert (freeze the rest of the cake--make it in a 9 by 12 to allow for easy portion separation, quarter the cake and freeze each quarter separately). Shabbos lunch: stew bones with some meat on them and two pieces of stew meat (freeze the rest), a carrot chopped, an onion chopped, two potatoes chopped, some beans. Buy a package of chicken cutlets, take one cutlet and cut lenghthwise while partially frozen into two cutlets, freeze the rest. Dredge in french dressing and flavored bread crumbs, bake, Make a small potato kugel (6 potatoes, 1/2 cup oil, 5 eggs, 1/2 tbsp salt, onion powder, pepper). Check your own lettuce, oil, vinegar, salt, a couple of slices of pepper, cucumber, tomato.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: cappucino

                                One thing to use instead of chicken bones for the soup is use turkey necks - available her ein chicago for a very reasonable price -

                                1. re: cappucino

                                  i only moved to israel a few years ago but 50 for 2 for shabbos just really brought home the diff in prices kosher foodwise between here and the states, i just made shabbos for 6 at each meal for about 300 NIS which is about 85 USD...craazy

                                  1. re: chai18

                                    Are food prices cheaper in Israel? Last time I was there I felt like supermarket items were more expensive than in the US. What is your experience?

                                    1. re: serenarobin

                                      meat and chicken are more expensive but other basics are cheaper, also vegetables are only sold per season so the ones you buy will always be the cheapest

                                    2. re: chai18

                                      I think that's a factor of buying/cooking in quantity. Cooking for 2 will generally be more expensive per person than cooking for 6.

                                  2. One thing I have found helps manage costs while still making e a course special for shabbos is to mix protein with a carb, which is usually cheap. That way, I need far less of the chicken, fish, etc, but they are still part of the dish. For example, there are lots of great pasta recipes that call for chicken or salmon, but I use far less salmon or chicken in the pasta than I would if serving it alone. Similarly, I've put lamb or beef stew pieces in soup/stews, and then added lots of potatoes and carrots, which keeps the overall cost down.

                                    1. My ex mother-in-law was extremely penurious, came from living through the rise of the nazi's in Germany, then the deprivation of the early years of Israel.

                                      She would make a meat kugel for Shabbos. Using only one pound of ground meat (Beef, turkey, veal) and 2 lbs of broad noodles.
                                      Saute the ground meat with finely chopped onion in a frying pan, spice with salt, pepper and garlic if desired. Par boil the noodles and drain. Mix and pour 1.5 cups broth (she used bouillion cubes and added no salt to the cooking) and bake at 350 degrees F for an hour.

                                      Cut in squares like a lasagne. This easilly fed the whole family (8 people) at a low cost. It freezes well. It can be eaten room temp, or left covered with foil on the blech overnight to serve for lunch.

                                      Similarly, she made a covered mushroom(Canned) + barley casserole with broth and threw cheap chicken parts (Wings in those days, necks and thights) into the bottom of the casserole and they cooked in with the mushrooms and barley. This dish can be made for less than $4 and feed 4 as a main. It can also be made without meat.

                                      She always said that they only got 2 oz of protein a week in the 1948-1951 years in Israel and learned that the meat should be the flavoring agent in the starch and vegeatables, not as the main with starch and veg on the side.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                        Yea- Vegetables are super expensive. DH goes to restuarant depot frequently and said he was there three weeks ago and a case of tomatoes was $9, he went back a week later and it was $18+. Also, I have noticed romaine lettuce prices have gone crazy! The cheapest fruits and veg I have seen recently are at TJ's, but thats only really for salad vegetables (lettuce, cucumber etc). Cauliflower/ pepper/ broccoli etc prices are crazy everywhere here :(

                                        1. re: marissaj

                                          I've been shopping at Costco for lettuce- $4 for the 6 pack of romaine where the other stores have it for $4-5 for a 3 pack. A lot of the fruit stores in Brooklyn have had some decent prices on certain vegetables- I saw broccoli for 79cents/lb and yellow peppers for 99cents/lb. The Asian market really has some good vegetable bargains also.

                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                            Thats a good idea.. BTW- the TJ's near me has romaine at $2.29 for a 3 pack now, but last week was $5!

                                          2. re: marissaj

                                            Veggies have been high due to weather conditions int he growing areas. I go to a great produce place in Philadelphia at the Reading Terminal Market and there are signs all over saying how the crops have been affected due to weather so prices will be high and availablity poor.
                                            Asian grceries and markets are always a good pklace to get a wide variety of produce often for much less than anywhere else. Perhaps this is an option for the OP.

                                        2. Use this Groupon :)

                                          $10 for $20 Worth of Glatt Kosher Organic Meats and Kosher Eats from Aaron's Gourmet in Rego Park
                                          http://www.groupon.com/deals/aarons-g...

                                          1. are you in Manhattan? if yes, I order from glatt mart in Brooklyn, you have to order by noon on Wednesday morning and they delivery Wednesday night. Its much cheaper but there is a $10 delivery fee. Gefilte fish frozen loaf is about $3-4 cheaper than supersol. I often will do one large order a month and freeze. Chicken cutlet family packs I usually break down into smaller portions and freeze them in individual ziploc bags. Stew meat and ground beef, same story. Also I ask to speak to the butcher and ask him what is the cheapest cut of beef he has and then make something based on the meat. Often I use leftover wine and a cheap cut of beef and put in the crock pot for Friday night with some potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic and its a whole meal. Good luck! Glatt Mart 718-338-4040

                                            1. if you feel comfortable, could you invite other people and make it potluck? then you could buy just one thing in bulk... in college i did this all the time, get a bunch of broke people together and have everyone bring something small, it adds up.

                                              also, when money is tight, we do bagels for lunch.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                "She would make a meat kugel for Shabbos. Using only one pound of ground meat (Beef, turkey, veal) and 2 lbs of broad noodles.
                                                Saute the ground meat with finely chopped onion in a frying pan, spice with salt, pepper and garlic if desired. Par boil the noodles and drain. Mix and pour 1.5 cups broth (she used bouillion cubes and added no salt to the cooking) and bake at 350 degrees F for an hour.

                                                Cut in squares like a lasagne. This easilly fed the whole family (8 people) at a low cost. It freezes well. It can be eaten room temp, or left covered with foil on the blech overnight to serve for lunch."

                                                So I made this today (with ground turkey) for Shabbos this week. Do you have any idea what size pan was used? I ended up with two. I know the point is to use very little meat, but it still seemed off to me when I mixed the pasta with the meat and onion mix. I think if this turns out all right, I would use a pound of meat per pound of pasta.

                                              2. I buy the shabbos specials. Here Brach's sells one chicken and a side for $10 or if I need more I go to Mauzone and buy two chickens, two salads and a mushroom barley for $22. With these as my core main adding a soup, salad and one or two more items doesn't break the bank. Also very important is to keep an eye out if your shul has a kiddush. My shul sends out emails on Friday with the shabbos schedule and if they list a kiddush I don't prepare any lunch and eat at the kiddush.

                                                I for one can't understand how someone can go home for a meal after what I see them consume at the kiddush! I mean, cake, geffilta fish, salads, fried chicken, deli, meatballs, chulent, kishka, potato kugel, noodle kugel fruits and drinks. Again, it depends on your shul, but the one I go too usually has most of these items when a kiddush is given.

                                                1. It's spring....you have tremendous produce that is about to be at your fingertips...take full advantage of it!!! My perfect spring/summer meal on a shoe-string would included a fresh gazpacho, which you can bulk out with tomato juice should you bring a stray home from shul for a meal:) There are plenty of recipes online that even use canned tomatoes (fire roasted is a nice touch). With the excellent aforementioned challah, you've got half your meal right there. Add in a summer salad and nice seared 8oz piece of tuna (i know, I know, $$, but it's Shabbos Kodesh and I agree with Berel's parnasa comment above, MAMISH!!!) You could get away with a 5star meal at under $10 a head...

                                                  1. I know this post is a few months old but I spend about $10 for a family of 4 (granted 2 of them are toddlers who barely eat but still). The way to do it, imo, is to plan your meals according to what is on sale in the store--I'm talking about vegetables and fruits by the way-- so if peppers are $3 each then skip it. Also find a good store that sells only vegetables and fruits--prices are usually better than supermarkets. Another thing I find helpful is buying some items frozen. Do you have a trader Joes near you? They have great frozen green beans, corn, peas etc that you can look into getting.

                                                    We eat vegetarian all the time except the big holidays so I know that is somewhat helpful in bringing down costs for us--BUT chicken is relatively inexpensive and like some mentioned bellow if you mix it with other stuff (veg, rice,etc) it can be cost effective. And try to experiment with Vegi dishes, you never know! your Dh may come around and like some of them :)

                                                    1. Soup:

                                                      I make mine by throwing 4 packages chicken bones, 4 onions with skins, a handful of carrots, a parsnip and a bit of garlic and dill into a 6 qt. crockpot. Cover with water, cook overnight, and strain into jars, which can last a while in fridge or freezer. I can get 4 packages of bones for around $5.

                                                      Egg noodles for the soup are cheap, and you can also add in the cooked carrots.

                                                      Once the soup bones have cooled down, take the meat off the bones and save it. You can add it to the soup, use it for a chicken salad or sandwich, add it to some pasta, saute it with some spices and onions and mushrooms, or throw it into a stirfry.

                                                      Leftover soup can be a great base for hot and sour soup. Add mushrooms, rice vinegar, soy sauce, a couple of drops of sesame oil, hot chili paste, cubed extra-firm tofu, an egg, green onion, and a bit of bok choy. It's filling enough for a lunch or dinner on Sunday.

                                                      For a nice twist on a meat cholent for Shabbat lunch, I get a pound of stewing beef chunks (around $7) and throw it into a small 2 qt crock pot with chopped onion, 1 cup of other veggies, 1 cup of chick peas, 1/4 cup barley or couscous, garlic, salt and pepper, a big pinch of rosemary, 1/4 cooking Merlot wine, and a can of drained diced tomatoes on top. It starts to cook Friday, and after around 20 hours on Low it is incredibly tender and tastes fantastic. For a total of $10, you get a hot beef lunch, plus enough leftovers for a few lunches.

                                                      For fish, add a can of salmon to some pasta and veggies. Saute the onion, mushrooms, garlic and some zucchini or spinach (fresh or frozen), and then add in the salmon, toss with the pasta with a decent amount of olive oil. It's yummy, cheap and filling.

                                                      With veggies, shop for what's on sale and in season, and don't be afraid to use frozen in the winter.

                                                      Homemade brownies are easy and cheap. Made your own mixes out of dry ingredients ahead of time, and then they are fast to whip up.

                                                      I make my own hummus or black bean dip to eat with the challah. You can really play with different spices and flavors, and canned beans are really cheap.