Shabbat Leftovers That Stretch

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.



  1. Roasted potatoes — i like to mix sweet potatoes with white potatoes… but generally, I’ll get whatever is cheapest. Spray with Pam, add Lawry’s seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, any other seasoning you like, and just a drop of cinnamon. Put pan in 400-425 oven for at least an hour. Maybe longer. Cheap, easy, delicious, and I’ll take the leftovers for breakfast on Shabbat morning!

  2. and how could I forget … which was suggested to me by Mara herself?!?!?

    • Love that recipe, Caroline! And you can make it even more frugal when you make your black beans rather than buying canned. I’ve started doing that lately, now that I’ve found out I can just do it straight in the crockpot, no soaking required. (I’m all about easy!)

  3. That’s great! I reserve the wings from my chicken and after a couple months, use them to make chicken stock. I also reserve the chicken from the soup and freeze it to use for crock pot chicken pot pie, or stir fry, or chicken salad. Finally, I check a whole head of Romaine lettuce, and that’s usually enough lettuce to make three or four salads.

    I didn’t even realize that I was being so frugal; I just hate to waste food. Sweet!

    • What a good idea about the wings. Will you share your chicken pot pie recipe? I’m intrigued by the crock pot part of it!

      • Ah, so the crock pot part is because I’m teaching piano lessons when my husband comes home from work, and he needs some hot food for dinner.

        It’s basically just chicken pot pie fixins (chicken, carrots, onions, green beans, peas, potatoes), tossed together with spices (thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, sage, whatever sounds yummy), and some broth. I cook it for about three hours or so on low. If I were really ambitious I would make a crust to go on top, but I usually don’t.

  4. First-time poster here. I absolutely love this blog! I really appreciate the great shopping ideas, coupons, cooking advice, etc. Thanks so much for writing it!

    Regarding your menu above, I use the crock pot all the time for Fri. night (and weeknight) dinner and for cholent on Shabbat lunch, but I’ve never tried soup for Shabbat lunch. I guess I worried the soup would cook too long or the liquid would dry up after so many hours. I guess that’s not a problem?

    • Thanks so much, Rachel. I appreciate you being a reader and I’m glad you’re leaving a comment. 🙂

      I asked for advice on Facebook and learned that it’s best to boil the chicken ahead of time. I did that, then used the boiling liquid for the soup. I want to tweak a few things (I’m planning to make it again this coming Shabbat), and then I’ll share a “recipe”. I was worried about liquid, but it was just fine. If it’s boiling off, I’m guessing you might want to turn it down one setting.

  5. okay – stupid question about boiling the chicken, since this is something I’ve never done. Should I take off the skin so it’s not so fatty? And about how long does one need to boil it? (so I can plan ahead…)


  6. One more way to get double use for foods, similar to what’s mentioned above for chicken stock. Whenever I’m cutting vegetables, I put all the bits and pieces that I remove (ends of carrots, onion peels, celery leaves, pepper tops, swiss chard stems) in a bag in the freezer. When the bag gets full, I make vegetable stock. Dump the contents into the crockpot, add a couple bay leaves, some spices if you like (I use thyme and paprika), and cover with water. Cook for a few hours, then strain and add salt to taste.

    If I’m not using that day, I add less water to make it more condensed and freeze in an ice cube tray for easy cooking later 😉

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