Inspired by the popularity of my post on How to Clean for Passover in One Day, I decided to tell y’all how I cook for Shabbos in an hour.  Because I’m all about saving time and getting out of the kitchen.  A friend of mine recently told me I am doing the Jewish world a service by standing up there and admitting that I don’t like to cook, so of course I’m all about doing a mitzvah, benefiting others, yada yada.

So hear this now: I’m Jewish, I’m religious, I’m the mother of a large family, my husband is even a rabbi, and I DON’T LIKE TO COOK.  I’d much rather go for a walk with someone I love, or even like; read something really interesting; socialize with friends; or play a game with my kids.  For those of you that love the patchke, you may click right away from the page with no hard feelings at all.

And yet I cook Shabbos food pretty much every week and love to host guests.  Here’s how I do it:


Homemade challah
Partially homemade gefilte fish
Homemade matza ball soup
Roast chicken
Grilled vegetables
Pareve ice cream dessert


There’s a secret.  You have to prepare the challah dough in advance.  And you have to do shopping in advance.  And not everything will be homemade.


(I’ve only included the things you’re unlikely to have on hand.)

  1. yeast
  2. loaf of frozen gefilte fish (I don’t find the brand matters much; I shop the cheapest brand)
  3. chicken, for the soup and for the main
  4. any bottled salad dressing or sauce
  5. veggies for the salads and roasted veg dish
  6. matza ball soup mix
  7. pareve ice cream or sorbet for dessert
  8. net bag for your chicken soup


Throw the following into a bowl:

  • 1.5 Tbsp yeast
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 7-8 cups flour
Mix well and allow to rise by covering with saran.  Leave overnight in fridge, or on counter for a few hours.
Estimated time: 10-15 minutes.
  1. Start by mixing up your matza ball mix according to package directions and put in fridge to firm up.  Estimated time: 5 minutes.
  2. Next, peel all the veggies for your roasted veggies and for the soups (I like onion, carrots, sweet potato, celery, and squash in my soup).  Throw your veggies for the soup in a large pot along with the chicken.  I put the chicken in the bag for easy removal.  Fill pot with water to the top, season with salt, pepper, dill, and whatever else you like.  Put it up to boil.  Estimated time: 10 minutes.
  3. Next, clean your chickens and arrange in a nice dish.  Pour some bottled dressing or sauce (any will work) and put in oven for two hours uncovered at 350.  Estimated time: 10 minutes.
  4. Now, take your gefilte fish, unwrap it from both the plastic and wax paper, and transfer to a loaf pan partially frozen.  Spray or brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper or any seasonings.  Put it in the oven for two hours.  Estimated time: 5 minutes.
  5. Next, arrange your roast veggies in a pan.  I drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil, basil, rosemary, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Put in oven for two hours.  Estimated time: 5-10 minutes.
  6. Now prepare your salads.  I can’t put a time on this; it all depends how you like your salads.  I sometimes do the salads just before dinner anyway, so I’m going to leave it out of the equation.
  7. Now deal with your challah.  I have instructions for that here.  Not counting rising time, this should take 10 minutes, depending on how fancy you get with your braids and how new you are at it.  Estimated time: 10 minutes.
  8. Take your matza ball mix out of the fridge and form into balls.  Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.  Drop in matza balls and allow to cook.  Estimated prep time: 5 minutes.
  9. The rice is super-fast because I have a rice cooker.  I throw the rice in there with water, a little oil, some soy sauce and frozen veggies, and just turn the thing on.  But before I had a rice cooker, I did it in a pan in the oven and it was almost as easy.  Estimated time: 5 minutes.
As you’ve realized, dessert is store bought, so that’s easy.  Also, a comment on doubling recipes to freeze.  I rarely do this.  I know everyone swears it’s a time-saver, but it’s also a time-saver to braid fewer challahs, roll fewer matza balls, and clean fewer chickens.  This is a different strokes for different folks kind of decision. 
And there you have it… Shabbos dinner, in an hour or less.