Easy Shabbat Lunch Menu

When we moved to Cleveland last fall, we were blessed to find ourselves in a very special community — one that graciously reached out to us as a new family and invited us into their homes for many, many Shabbatot in a row.

These meals kick-started some wonderful new friendships, which I’m very grateful for. And of course, they also made life much easier during that transition time of moving (and again as we re-found our footing after Frankie’s dad passed away).

The only downside to all that hospitality is that I totally lost my meal-planning groove. This past summer, when I started trying to step back into the role of Shabbat host, I found myself drawing a complete blank.

I had to text my friend in a total panic, asking her for menu ideas. I had to search my own blog for inspiration. I felt totally overwhelmed, as if I’d never before made a Shabbat meal, other than for just my family.

{As an aside, can I just say that I think Jewish women — and also some Jewish men, since I know there are families where the husband / father does the lion’s share of the cooking — are heroes! When I hear people freaking out about Thanksgiving dinner, I always chuckle to myself because, HELLO!, we do that once a week. And during yomim tovim, three times a week! Not to mention that we have to cook all of it hours and even days in advance!}

One thing that I’ve found really helpful in terms of getting my Shabbat groove back is to create a list of component parts to the meal — take two from column A (appetizers), one from column B (main dishes), and three from column C (side dishes). I don’t know about you, but when I try to plan a side dish and have the whole.wide.Internet to choose from, I can’t think! But when I have a list of 10 veggie side dishes that I know by heart and have the ingredients for on-hand? I can more easily pick two or three and move on.

To make this work, I’ve also had to give myself permission to repeat dishes — if my kids love something, why not make it again and again (and again)? I wouldn’t serve the same food to the same guests two weeks in a row, but I think it’s a-okay for my family!

All of that said, I wanted to share with you my lunch menu for this Shabbat. The foods are all quite easy – nothing takes too much time or has too many steps — and they all heat up well on the plata. They are also tasty, healthy and make for a colorful plate*, while hopefully being appealing to children of various ages — we’re having 6 adults and 9 kids, ranging from age 2 to 12.

*Ha – I just noticed that the three pictures I have are all “beige” foods. I will have to take some shots of the more colorful items, too!

Mara’s Easy Shabbat Lunch Menu

bread maker challah

Appetizer Course

  • Hummus (purchased or homemade) topped with ground beef (I spiced mine this week with zhatar), served with pita chips
  • Antipasto plate: Grape leaves (purchased), marinated artichoke hearts (purchased), roasted mini peppers, roasted sweet potato, and black olives
  • Challah (we’re having store bought this week, but time-provided, I do prefer to make my bread maker challah recipe)

Baked Orzo with French's Fried OnionsMain Course

  • Grilled chicken cutlets, marinated in EVOO, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Squash pie (I use this basic recipe, subbing in almond flour for regular flour and cutting sugar to a scant 1/4 cup)
  • Baked orzo with fried onions (recipe coming soon)
  • Sesame green beans (I do these ‘by heart’, but the link is very similar to mine – only I add in grated ginger, too)
  • Baby arugula salad with cherry tomatoes & avocados

Easiest Cookie Bars without Margarine

Dessert Course

I would be happy to share more menus like this, if you would be interested (please let me know in the comments). I know that I, for one, am always happy to read other people’s menus because it helps me so much — sometimes I reproduce them almost verbatim and sometimes they just give me an idea or two for a different side dish or appetizer.

Along those lines, I’d also love to hear in the comments what YOU will be making for Shabbat this week – and especially if you’re hosting. Thanks guys! Shabbat Shalom!


  1. I love reading your menu ideas! Please keep them coming 🙂

  2. Love this new feature – keep it coming. Shabbat Shalom!

  3. Would love to see more shabbat lunch menus with links to recipes. Always looking for tasty, healthy and not too time consuming dishes that reheat well!

    • Hopefully these fit the bill! I linked to those that I could… and I promise to share the orzo recipe soon! It’s a crowd pleaser!

  4. I love this new feature. The more ideas to bounce off of the easier it is. I love your recipes and advise also. So, PLEASE keep them coming. First request if I may, how do you bake schnitzel? Also,can you please include whatever advise on cooking ahead you have. Thank you very much and Shabbat Shalom.

    • My method for baking schnitzel is pretty simple: I dredge the chicken breasts in eggs — or homemade mayo (yum!). Then in bread crumbs, or crushed cornflakes, or whatever crunchy topping I’m using, then lined them up in a 9×13 pan and bake at 375 until done. (I know, I know – I never know how long I cook something, I just kind of smell when it’s done. It’s crazy, but I almost never burn anything. It drives my husband crazy — he’ll say ‘How long do I cook this fill-in-the-blank’ and I’ll say, “Ohhh, you know, until it’s done.”) I’d guess about 25 minutes, but it depends on how thick and big your chicken breasts are. I often have the butcher cut them into “fingers”, so they go pretty fast. Cut into the thickest one to make sure it’s cooked all the way through!)

  5. If it’s just us, Shabbat lunch is generally leftovers from Shabbat dinner. Tonight’s dinner is a little fancier than usual because I’m taking half of it to friends with a 9-day-old baby: homemade challah, crockpot chicken with sweet potatoes and mushrooms (braised in red wine and OJ), chili roasted Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, and pareve chocolate peanut butter fudge.

  6. For the chicken recipe that you posted, do you use fresh thyme or dried? And what kind of garlic? Powder, minced, sliced or whole cloves?
    It sounds simple, good & easy….bought boneless skinless thighs to grill on Sunday, and am looking forward to trying it.
    Also, searching for menu planning is what brought me to your blog in the first place.

    • Melissa – How awesome is it that you found me from googling?! Love that. Okay, so for the chicken, I use dried thyme leaves. I also use powdered garlic – if using fresh, I’d mince it super, super fine. I only marinade it for about 45 minutes. I bet it will be delicious on thighs! Let me know how it turns out.

      • It took a while, but I finally made the chicken recipe with boneless skinless thighs. Everyone loved it, which doesn’t happen very often in our house. I served it cold. My son said that he thought it would go really well with cranberry sauce, and we had some in the house, so we took it out & it was great! Thank you so much for this recipe.
        So….now I have a question about the sesame green beans. If you serve it cold, do you just combine the sauce ingredients in a jar & shake it, then toss it with the green beans, or do you still need to heat them in the pan? Also do you use powdered ginger or fresh grated?

  7. We like to do a grilled chicken cob salad for the day meal. Also we use the trader joes icecre pored into a graham cracker crust topped with frozen trader joes berries

  8. I especially love your comment about Thanksgiving–I mean, seriously, right?! The same thing comes up with Weight Watchers–they’re planning weeks ahead how to afford the calories, and I’m sitting there thinking–Tishrei…22 meals like that…forget it!

  9. Your menu sounds great. Here are some of mine: Friday night we always have soup and challah. If we don’t have guests I make whole roasted chicken with potatoes and some sort of vegetable dish and no dessert. If we have guests I make chicken legs in a sauce, rice or potatoes/ sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables ( green beans, broccoli, zucchini, pepper, garlic) , a lettuce or spinach salad and some sort of fruit dessert ( apple crisp, blueberry cake etc) or cookies.

    For lunch our summer menu is challah with cold soup ( strawberry rhubarb,gazpacho, mango gazpacho, fruit soup, avocado soup, corn soup) or an appetizer of fake crab salad and sesame zucchini noodles, or a big green salad and Thai rice paper fresh rolls with peanut sauce. I serve grilled chicken breasts and thighs: raspberry balsamic, Korean, lemon herb, or maple mustard, and roasted asparagus or green beans ( sometimes with mushrooms or scallions) sesame noodles or cilantro quinoa salad or brown rice with mushrooms and onions or orzo herb tomato salad. I rotate a bunch of desserts ( brownies, meringues, peach crisp,pavlova with berries, etc) and fruit. For the winter we start with gefilte fish and salad, soup from the crockpot, or cholent from the crockpot.

    If I’m really sick of shabbos we do Mexican- make your own burrito/ taco or make your own shawarma pita.

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