Six days a week we run around and manage our businesses, families, schools, and life in general. Things can be (OK, often are) crazy. And one day we can relax and rest from those duties. But that rest means planning ahead, something which can be a challenge for everyone!
For me, it’s often the last minute food prep. Sometimes, I leave things until the last minute (some things taste better to me fresh, but I can occasionally leave them until they are a little too fresh…) and they either don’t get done or they get done in a rush. And that last minute panic is not how I like to bring in Shabbat!
This week’s challenge is improving your Shabbat. That could be planning, meals, hosting, parsha…what could use improving? First, I’m going to talk planning.
Here is what works for me:
- Guests: We invite guests very early in the week so we know how to plan. I always find out about any food issues or allergies (and if it’s something common, how severe. For example, if someone is allergic to fish, does that mean no fish at the table at all, or just no fish for them? It helps to know!)
- Food: I try to plan my menu early in the week (like Sunday, or possibly Monday) and shop early for everything that I can. It might change somewhat based on sales or weather (for example, a snowstorm might call for chili instead of gazpacho), but the bones of the menu stay the same. Already having a guest list helps, too. Then I write out a list of food tasks to be done and try and break them up with a very minimal amount to be done on Friday.
- Parsha: Next comes a plan for the week’s parsha. Some weeks are more elaborate (like the miketz i-spy-boxes, above) and some are simple (like coloring sheets), but I try to find fun ways to get my kids involved with and learning about the parsha. Often with food (like these Noach rainbow cookies), crafts (like these wedding cake balls. Oh wait, that’s food again…OK, the playdough for molding items, then–I need to put more crafts here!), and/or a song.
- Chores: Everyone, even my two year old, has at least one Shabbat prep chore. OK, my 8 month old is exempt for now. But everyone else does their chores. This not only helps us get ready, but it helps them get involved in the mitzvah! Reminders of this may be heard in the house frequently, too. 😀
- Lists: Yep, here we go with the lists again. What can I say? Lists help me stay organized! In addition to the normal list of errands (dry cleaners? grocery store?) and a grocery list, I have a Shabbat checklist to run down on Friday. It helps me ensure that I’ve covered my bases and won’t be missing a light or living with a blazing oven over Shabbat.
- Backup plan: Last, just in case something goes wrong, I have a backup plan. Here‘s a whole post on this, but in short, I have a Shabbat meal in waiting: challah, kugel, dessert, and a main dish in the freezer, a few salads and sides in the cupboard, and an extra trusty bottle of grape juice in the pantry. Just in case!
How do you prepare for Shabbat? Is there anything you are working on? I’d love to hear from you!