Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shabbat-Friendly Foods for the Newbie

When you first begin observing Shabbat, the food issue can be the most daunting. How do I cook for Shabbos without cooking on Shabbos??

For a long time, I didn't eat hot food on Shabbat. (That's ok, but be prepared for karaite jokes!)

If you're not ready to tackle the crockpot, hot plate, or blech, you can still eat food on Shabbat. Here are some ideas:
  • Essentially: Anything that can be eaten cold or at room temperature
  • Cold-cut sandwiches
  • Fresh, canned, or dried fruits 
  • Nuts
  • Chips
  • Cheese
  • Bread/pita with spreads (hummus, peanut butter and jelly/bananas, Nutella, etc)
  • Cereal (with or without milk)
  • Chocolate, brownies, cakes, rugelach, cinnamon rolls, etc
  • Popsicles, ice cream, ice cream sodas, etc
  • Leftovers that can be eaten cold
It won't be the best food you've ever eaten, but you'll survive. And it can be an excuse to indulge in guilty favorites! Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments!

Note: Your community may not recognize opening cans or bottles as halachically-permissible. Check with your rabbi. This includes soda cans and bottles being opened for the first time.


  1. How is salad not on the list?!? If you live in an area with kosher food, an awesome shabbos lunch even if you will heat food up is a chicken salad. You can put anything on it, just make sure the dressing is pareve! It's filling and healthy, plus fills the requirement of having meat on shabbos which is important to some people. I do this all the time in the summer when I don't want to leave my blech on all shabbos :)

    I've also done tuna pasta salad, cold schnitzel, and cold fish(most fish is great cold, especially salmon).

    Some also have the custom to make sure they absolutely do have something hot on shabbos lunch. I'm not pressuring anyone to have hot food if they aren't ready yet, of course! In seminary, we had a mix up where our blech turned off in the middle of the night and our cholent went spoiled for shabbos. We had no hot food! Our Rabbi said that by having hot coffee or tea, that fulfills the idea of having something hot on shabbos. Sometimes, a hot water urn can be scarier than warming food, though, especially when you get into kli rishon, sheni, and shlishi! Haha :)

  2. funny thing - before we moved to a community one thing I enjoyed about Shabbos was not having to worry about warming/prepping foods. I would make ahead of time lots of cold things - sandwiches, dips, boiled eggs, and desserts so we could just eat at cold or room temp. We studied and played with the kids with no worry about meals being formal. When we moved to the community we quickly realized that this is NOT done. In fact one of the Rabbi's on the beis din is insistent on having warm Shabbos lunches. So I pulled out the crock and set up a blech, much to my dismay.
    So now one of my favorite parts that made Shabbos extra special to me, has been replaced by considerably work and effort in the cooking dept. bleh!

    If I had my way Shabbos would be eaten picnic style. The Karaites have some pretty good ideas after all.

  3. Sushi would be okay for Shabbos as well, right? So long as you premade the rice, but sushi rice needs to be cold, anyway, so that's not a big deal.

  4. During the summer, we have Shabbat lunch meals that are almost exclusively salad-based--three or four of them that cover protein, carbs, veggies, and more veggies. Best and easiest meal, and a significant amount can be made on Shabbat day.

  5. My crock-pot is a trusted friend on Shabbes. Cinnamon rolls or bagels set on top an inverted crock-pot lid and covered with foil makes a nice warm spot in the tummy for breakfast plus a nice cholent, chili or stew with cornbread and or rice for lunch. I also stumbled on an amazing carafe that will keep coffee, tea what have you piping hot for about 16 hours. I used to worry with a blech and can still manage one if need be. But for me keeping it simple and breezy increases the joy of Shabbes. I've had no complaints so far. :)

    1. My understanding (from my rabbi) is that you can only use appliances intended as warming appliances, as intended for use, for keeping food warm on Shabbat - e.g. no warming challah rolls on top of the urn or using an inverted Crock Pot lid to keep things warm. I don't know if your community holds this way, just raising this in case you wanted to look into it.