Planning for the Chagim, Part 3: Shopping Lists & Making Challah

simple apple for Rosh Hashana

Okay, first of all, let me be real with you all. I had really good intentions of being super efficient and getting all this food made ahead of time. Well, guess what? Bad habits won out again. Rosh Hashana starts in 2 days, and I’m playing catch up. Sheesh, and that’s with the accountability of having this blog. Imagine how behind I’d be without the public shame factor!

Now, as you might remember, my rationale for wanting to cook ahead was to avoid being on my feet for 15 hours straight, like I was last year. Ugh, it was such a nightmare. So, despite my late start, I am committed to following through with my three simple goals for this year’s chagim: Simplify, streamline and stay on budget. I realize that posting this on the day before yom tov may not be of much help to you in your plans, but hopefully it’s not totally in vain.

Here’s a look at what I’ve accomplished as of midnight on Monday.

1. I have made (and shopped from) a master shopping list, which I had mentioned wanting to do in Part 2 of this series a few weeks ago (was it that long ago?!). That master list, which was based on my master menu plan, was really helpful for me in making sure I was paying the lowest price possible on as much of my list as possible.

I was able to keep an eye on the circulars for produce sales and to take my CSA share into account as well.  I knew where to buy apples, and which stores had the best prices on pomegranates (at almost $3 a pop, we’re having one and only one, so it better be a good one!) So, far, I’ve spent $180 for the month of September, and my total budget was $700 — up from $400-450/month to account for all the chag meals.

I’m pretty stocked, actually, because I’ve managed to get nearly everything for Rosh Hashana, plus our seudah ma’afseket for Yom Kippur, plus everything but produce and dairy for the first days of Sukkot… and a lot of the day-to-day stuff as well. If we manage to come in under budget this month, I will definitely declare this month-long menu planning thing a success!

2. I made and froze my apple challot, which is a huge accomplishment for me! (Although I had wanted to do this a week ago, so maybe it’s not such an accomplishment after all!) I’ve been making this particular recipe for about five years and it has always been a winner. Usually I make it Erev Rosh Hashana and hope that the loaves for the second day stay fresh for 48 hours.

Apple challah ready for freezer

Apple Challah Ready for Freezer

This year, I decided to try something new. I made the recipe right up until the second rising and then I quickly froze it. My plan is to take out two challot the night before I need them (well, so I guess that would be four for Thursday) and let them rise in the fridge. Then I will bake them right before serving, so we’ll get to enjoy yummy, fresh challah all chag long. The loaves seemed rather heavy to me, so I’m really hoping nothing funky happens to the yeast in the freezer and that they fluff up as normal. If not, my apologies in advance to all my guests!

(I’m so pleased that I remembered to take pictures as I made the challot. To see more of them, please check out the original apple challah recipe post.)

3.  I made a detailed cooking plan. This is probably the most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than freezing that challah. It took me about 20 minutes, but I plotted through each item on my Rosh Hashana menu and wrote down every thing I’m going to need to do to get it all done. Then I assigned each step a date for completion. I also noted the stuff that I will need to do on Thursday and Friday (like making the spinach salad). So far, I can cross off “freeze challah” and “make carrot soup”.  Not great, but definitely better than this time last year.

So, tell me: Have you made any headway in getting your home ready for Rosh Hashana? Or, better yet, don’t tell me. Just close this post and get cracking on your list!


  1. I am actually pretty much done, except for the veggies (which i use the frozen steamable in the bag kind, i know i know i’m a lazy bum) and the rice/couscous dishes which i make also from a mix (we love the Carolina yellow rice!) I did make challah, soup, chcken, mataza balls, macaroni and cheese and lasagna from scratch though! Shana Tova!

    • I think those steamable bags are perfect… especially for my theme of “streamlining” and “simplifying”. Shana Tova!

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