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How to prepare for Shabbat

Preparing for Shabbat involves taking care of everything in advance that you'll need to enjoy a 25-hour rich and nourishing experience - sans cooking or electronics. Here are our tried and true tips for how to organize your Shabbat prep in an easy and enjoyable fashion.

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“Shabbat does not occur spontaneously on Friday evening. We can say that it begins the previous Saturday, at nightfall, when we prepare to return after 6 working days. We leave Shabbat knowing that it is our responsibility to be creative and meaningful for the next 6 days as Gd was when He created Heaven and Earth ...”
– Former US senator Joe Lieberman

Choose your Shabbat company

Shabbat meals are much more enjoyable when shared! It can be with your family, with old friends or members of your community whom you want to know more about. On Monday or Tuesday, start thinking about who you would like to share the Shabbat table with and call or email them to invite them.

Another option is to join Shabbat events in your neighborhood, on your university campus or in Chabad in your city.

What to make for Shabbat dinner

An advantage of Shabbat is that you can be sure that the audience will be sitting, almost captive, waiting to enjoy some of your favorite foods, so don't be afraid to be creative. Do not know what to cook? Find on this site some of our favorite recipes from different parts of the world. From a Gefilte Fish Ashkenazi to a Mafrum from Lebanon, you will be able to savor what Jews of different nationalities have cooked for centuries.

Do you want less creativity and more speed? Check out these quick and easy recipe options for Shabbat.

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Do your Shabbat shopping

If you are preparing a great meal for your close and dear people, you will surely have to take a walk around the supermarket. Everything you need for Shabbat has to be in the house before Shabbat begins. If you have not achieved something, you will manage without it. You will be amazed at what you can improvise. But we are going to help you get the best out of it with our Shabbat shopping list.

Get cooking!

On Shabbat we prepare three meals: the dinner on Friday night, the Shabbat lunch and the Seudat Shlishit (the third meal) in the afternoon. The latter is generally simpler and consists of bread, spreads, and salads. Since we cannot cook on Shabbat, we make sure that all hot foods are cooked ahead of time - just think, you’ll feast like royalty on Shabbat, and you won’t have to cook for 25 hours! For more information on food preparation for Shabbat, check out our Shabbat Map which includes the guidelines for all Shabbat warmers, slow cookers, ovens and stoves. 

If you are going to organize a large dinner, some of the meals on the menu can be prepared the previous days and fried. If instead you want everything to be super fresh and you're fast in the kitchen, you might want to get up early on Friday morning and cook everything that same day.

The Shabbat Queen

In Lecha Dodi, a song we sing to welcome Shabbat, we refer to Shabbat as both a bride and a queen. This idea dates back to the Talmud, where Rabbi Chanina would wrap himself in his special garments on Shabbat eve and say: “Come, and we will go out to greet Shabbat the queen.” Another sage, Rabbi Yannai, would dress for Shabbat eve and then say: “Enter, O bride. Enter, O bride.”

The Midrash states that in Creation, Shabbat came before Gd to complain: "Every day of the week they have a" companion "(Sunday has Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday Friday). But I have no partner!
To which Gd responds:

Gd replied:

“The Jewish Nation will be your partner!”
– (Berechit Rabba 11:8)

Get your house Shabbat ready

Just as we wear our best clothes for Shabbat, we also make sure our homes are ready to welcome the Shabbat Queen. It's a great excuse to clean everything, at least once a week. Since we cannot mop floors or drain water from cloths throughout Shabbat, we polish so that everything shines before Shabbat arrives. There's nothing like the refreshing feeling of a sparkling clean home when we light our candles and the moment of relaxation really begins.

Get yourself Shabbat ready

Your food is ready. Your home is shining. Now it’s time to get yourself ready. Bath, shower, shave, do hair and makeup (if that’s your thing) all before Shabbat starts, because you can’t do any of these once Shabbat begins. Even if you are home alone, dress up in your finest Shabbat wear – you’re about to welcome the (Shabbat) Queen of the night into your home! And now that you’re all dressed up and ready to go, it’s time to light Shabbat candles...