High Holidays Series – Part 1: Menu Planning & Meal Prepping {with downloadable meal prep timeline}


In today’s post I share with you some tips on how to kick off your High Holidays Menu Planning and Meal Prep for basically any Holidays, so that you can plan better, have more fun when it’s time to prepare for the Holidays, and in the process enjoy more the special occasion.

This High Holidays Series will consist of 3 Parts:

Part 1: High Holidays Menu Planning & Meal Prepping

When thinking about the High Holidays, I want to make sure I have enough time to plan my menu, look for special offers and make adjustments if needed, all of that without burning out or having a nervous breakdown, so, if you are like me in any way. I hope you find these tips useful:

High Holidays Menu Planning & Meal Prepping

1. Decide on a Theme

 You have to start by deciding which kind of food or ”theme” you want for your menu. Of course, by the end it will be ”food” but when you decide a theme your menu will look more cohesive. I usually go for mediterranean, caribbean or middle eastern kind of food. Once you’ve decided on the ”theme”, you want to think about who are you cooking for. If you are cooking for family members you can prepare some staples that your family love. If you are cooking for a larger group of friends you may want more ”crowd-friendly” dishes or maybe ”easy dishes”. Those decisions will define your menu. In my case, for example, if I am cooking just for my family I tend to cook simpler meals with plenty of raw veggies. On the other hand, if I am cooking for a larger group, the salads tend to be more complex and include more cooked veggies.

2. Brainstorm

Now that you have an idea of the kind of food you want to serve and the people who you are cooking for, you want to start a brainstorming process. At this point I brainstorm about starters, mains, sides, salads and desserts and their different components. I write down all my dishes ideas and if I get stuck I can head over pinterest, instagram or just a plain google search for inspiration. The Kitchn, Tori Avey Blog and Joy of Kosher are some of the blogs I look for inspiration specially at this time of the year (they have great selection on Sephardic-style dishes with a modern presentation)

3. Create a visual Board for your recipes

I am a very ”visual” person and that is why at this point I will start looking for images that resemble what I have in mind and pin those images to Pinterest (hopefully they are pinables! lol) to a special board dedicated to my menu. This works well for me because it helps me visualize the final menu as a whole and also gives me an overview of which are the main ingredients, and give me some ideas on how I’d like my final dish to look like. Pinterest is such an awesome tool because with it I can also visualize how many variations I may end up with and even how colorful my menu will be (I like to have many colors on the table as this alone makes the food looks much more appealing). Of course, if you are not into pinterest you can just write down your ideas making sure you have enough variety, and if you have cooking magazines you can literally *pin* your ideas to your bedroom wall ;).

For more inspiration, follow my current Rosh HaShanah Board by clicking here.

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4. How many & How much

At this point you will need to use a bit of math but nothing fancy. Before you start properly building your recipes and calculating portions per dish you have to take into consideration your guests. For example: a 5 year old boy won’t eat as much as a 25 year old and may not eat certain things like soups or certain veggies so you may not need as much of those dishes as of those which may be a hit).

I usually write down the name of the dish and below the ingredients, after that I refer to my favorite Servings per Person Cheatsheet (I use this amazing Cooking for a Crowd for Dummies Cheatsheet but you can also use your favorite recipes servings as guide) to make rough calculations on how much of each dish I need and how much people it will serve in total. Make sure to adjust quantities on the ones that may not be as popular, as I mentioned before. This will ensure you have enough food per person but also that you are not going to be wasting a lot.

After this process is finished I have pretty much built the recipes for each dish, so now I can go and make a shopping list.

5. Make a (pre-) Shopping List

Now it is time to start making your (pre-) shopping list. I say “pre” because it doesn’t have to be massive at this point but at least it is going to include the main ingredients of your dishes (like grains, meat, fish, some kind of veggies, pastas, baking supplies and other items like aluminum foil, disposable trays, baking paper, etc). After all, you cannot expect to just make one trip :-/ If I am working with a specific budget I like to include average prices for each ingredient and where can I find them. (I usually visit 2 to 3 stores depending what I am looking for). That way I can plan my shopping strategically within certain days and look for special offers. Once the “main shopping” has been done, I can revisit my shopping list to see if there is something missing and then, make a final list with those last items.

6. Time to Meal-Prep

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When you have a lot of stuff to do, planning is the key to success.
Did we miss something? How do you plan your cooking for major holidays? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow on pinterest and instagram!
Happy planning!