We do very well saving money during the week by eating a mostly vegetarian diet. Come Friday, however, not only is my family hankering for some M.E.A.T., but I also feel the need to put out a nicer-than-normal spread lichvod Shabbat (in honor of the Sabbath).
But at $8.99/lb for chicken breasts and $12.99/lb for (second-cut) brisket, even a modestly sized portion of meat means the budget gets a real work-out. That’s why I am always looking for ways to “fill out” our meals with more frugal soups, side dishes, and desserts. It’s all about creating margin – and in the case of Shabbat, I create margin by focusing on the parts of the meals that are easier to control price-wise.
Last Shabbat for lunch, I made chicken soup in the crockpot, thanks to some great advice from my Facebook friends. It was an experiment, that still needs some tweaking, but overall, I was pleased with the effort.
The best part is that my Shabbat lunch appetizer was fairly frugal – and it became super frugal when I was able to use it as the basis for not one – but THREE meals – thanks to creative left-over useage.
Meal #1 ~ Shabbat Lunch: Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls
- Chicken – $6.98 (Tip: I always buy the cheapest bird I can find – those few tenths of an ounce won’t make a difference in feeding your crowd, but they do shave a few dimes off your bill.)
- Carrots, celery, onions, garlic – $1.25
- Parsley – $.11 ($.77 for the bunch, but I only used a small amount for the soup)
- Matzah balls (from a package) – $2.50 (You can make this even more frugal by using egg noodles – a little goes a long way)
- Electricity from crockpot running 20 hours – ???
- TOTAL: $10.84 for 6 adults and a bunch-o-kids
I boiled the chicken ahead of time, then cut it in half. I immediately put half into the fridge for another meal, and plopped the other half into the crock pot before Shabbat, with the veggies, cooking broth and spices. At lunchtime, I ladled up the bowls, each with a small piece of chicken, matzah balls and veggies. After Shabbat, I transferred the remaining chicken, broth and veggies to a tupperware for later in the week.
Meal #2 ~ Tuesday Dinner: Chicken Stir-Fry with Pasta
- Half the boiled chicken – boned and skinned, meat diced – $0
- 2 red peppers – $2
- 4 carrots – $.40 (if that)
- 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic – $.33 (if that)
- 1 box of whole wheat rotini – $.75 (coupons & sale)
- vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil (just a splash to give it such a sublime flavor!) – $.40
- Total for dinner: $4.28 to feed FIVE PEOPLE!
Meal #3 ~ Wednesday Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie with Green Salad
- The other half the chicken – deboned and chopped for filling – $0
- 1.5 cups of broth – $0
- onions, celery, carrots, potatoes – $0 (dredged out of the broth)
- 2 T of flour to thicken – $.10 ?
- 1 package of Puff Pastry (I’d usually make my own, which would have been a lot cheaper, but after Snow Day #2, I wanted EASY) – $1.50 (bought with a coupon)
- Salad made from organic greens mixed with left-over Shabbat salads (shredded carrot salad and chickpea salad) and dressing – $1 for the lettuce ($3.99/lb at Costco)
- Total for dinner: $2.60 for dinner!
Wow, I knew that was a big savings, but seeing it written out like this, I’m kind of impressed! For $17.72, I made three meals, that fed more than 20 people! Technically, the first “meal” was really an appetizer, but I can see doing soup-and-salads + an inexpensive kugel or potato dish for a meal on Shabbat if we’re just family.
Of course, stretching your left-overs isn’t the only way to prepare a frugal Shabbat dish. And I’m sure you all have some great ideas.
Whether it’s a main course, a soup, some side dishes or dessert, I’d love to hear how you keep your Shabbat table from costing a fortune.
PLEASE share your favorite frugal Shabbat dishes in the comments section (with recipes, if you have them), or – if you have a blog – I’d love for you to link up a post where you share your frugal brilliance.