When I started the series on Planning for the Chagim last week, I promised to keep you updated on our streamlined, money-saving strategies for this year’s High Holidays. Does burying my head in the sand and pretending like Rosh Hashana isn’t just TWO AND A HALF WEEKS FROM NOW count? No?! Hmmmm.
Well, it isn’t quite that bad, but I definitely haven’t accomplished as much as I had hoped to by this point. In any case, here are the three things we’ve done so far. Try not to be underwhelmed.
1. We have invited all of our Rosh Hashana guests. (We’re still working on Sukkot & Simchat Torah.) As a rule, we prefer smaller meals to bigger ones, and usually aim to have two or three families, tops. On Sukkot or the second days of Pesach, we may expand that list a bit and serve buffet style. But sit-down meals in our dining room (or in our sukkah) just don’t work with a lot of people. Plus, with too many guests, I barely get to talk to anyone and end up feeling like a caterer.
2. We have set our budget for food and household items for the month of September for $700. Usually, I budget between $400 and $450 for the month, depending on how many Shabbat meals we expect to host and any other special events coming up, like birthday parties. In addition, I try to set aside another $100 in an envelope (well, a virtual envelope — I put it in my ING online savings account) for co-cop orders or meat orders.
Since all of the chagim fall out in September, except for the last days of Sukkot, we knew we’d need to bump up our budget by quite a bit. $250 – $300 is a big increase, but I know all too well that when it comes to holiday meal planning, a $700 budget can be spent super quickly. And that’s still got to feed us for the rest of the month, too. So we are definitely going to need to stay on our toes to make sure we don’t go over budget!
3. We started mapping out our menu plan. I’m trying to make my life a little easier by taking the Garanimal approach to menu planning. What? You don’t remember the Garanimals? I think it was a Sears line of children’s clothing and all the tops and bottoms were tagged with different animals on them. Any giraffe top would go with any giraffe bottom. Took the guess work out of getting dressed.
So that’s what I’m trying to do with our meals. Make two entrees, both of which can be mixed-and-matched or served alone. Same deal with five or six sides and two soups. I’ll prepare them in sufficient quantities to be able to put out at four different meals (yes, we’re hosting every meal on RH).
So far, here’s what I’ve got on my menu. (And the stuff I crossed out and added in as time went on…)
Sweet apple challah
Chicken soup with noodles
Carrot soup with dill
Roasted chicken Rotisserie turkey breast (hubby’s job)
Crockpot brisket — I got a 7 lb roast, too big for my crock pot, so it’ll be oven-cooked on Wednesday
Roasted root vegetables Vegetable kugel with zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, baby potatoes and leeks
Spinach salad with strawberries, pecans and poppy seed dressing
Zucchini and leek patties (or maybe baked as a kugel)
Filo purses stuffed with pumpkin and glazed onions Pumpkin strudel
*Carrot “muffins” (sweet, cakey kugel, poured into a cupcake pan)
Apple crisp with pareve ice cream
*Spiced carrot cake with orange glaze IF I DON’T RUN OUT OF TIME
I need one or two more side dishes and another dessert. Any suggestions?
Next up is my detailed shopping list, but I’ll save that for next time since I have yet to put pen to paper on that.
How are your plans for Rosh Hashana coming along? Got any super frugal recipe ideas to share? Wonderful ways to save time? Unique divrei Torah to inspire us all? Share and share alike in the comments!