Let's Eat

How to make this year's Rosh Hashanah the best and easiest yet

Here are our tips for the perfect holiday feasts


It might be the school-holiday season, but judging by the growing buzz in my Facebook groups, many of us are thinking ahead to next month’s frenzy of festivals.

But how to feed our friends and family and create beautiful tables without breaking the bank?

Table decorations:
Food stylist and event planner Dani Tucker says it’s perfectly possible to create a stylish New Year tablescape on a budget:

Better basics: Try using a simple roll of paper to cover your table. Tucker’s design uses green paper from a craft shop but you could use baking parchment or brown paper. One roll should be sufficient to cover both sides of a regular dining table. Run the paper down both sides of the table and arrange the plates and settings along it. Once you know where your guests will be sitting you can write each person’s name on the paper, with a personal message for the new year. Or draw something simple like leaves.

Natural solutions: Edible decorations can be on-theme and will never go to waste. Apples, pomegranates, plums and berries all make for great table decorations.

Bake or buy a large, round challah and you have a beautiful centrepiece that will also feed a crowd. (The challah pictured is from Karma Bakery and serves 6-8 people.) Low-cost foliage such as eucalyptus teamed with some seasonal flowers is another dramatic centrepiece.

Honeycomb can be found at a reasonable price and looks very pretty as does honey poured into cut-glass bowls.

Mix ’n’ match: Don’t be afraid to mix up your crockery. Mismatched sets look really effective — Tucker has a huge collection of tableware that she hires out. Empty golden syrup tins look great as flower containers.


Rebbetzin Ilana Epstein has been catering for crowds on a budget for years and advises fellow rebbetzens how to keep their costs in check while not losing their cool: “Time is the only non-renewable commodity we have, use it wisely,” she says.” Though sometimes painstaking and boring, planning will save you time when cooking starts.”

Guest List: Invite your guests now so you know how many people are with you for each meal.

Take stock: Before you start planning, scour your own home. Give your cupboards, freezer and wine collection a once-over before you write a shopping list.

Season’s eatings: Next, plan your menu: bear in mind which fruit and vegetables are in season in September and October. As well as being cheaper and tastier, they tend, unsurprisingly, to be traditional Rosh Hashanah fare: apples, beetroot, carrots, chard, leeks and squash.

Be strategic: When compiling your menu note how long the dishes will take to prepare; whether they can be made ahead of time and frozen; what day you plan on cooking them and (if you’re sharing the load) who in the family is cooking what. Can you make time savings? If three dishes need fried onions, cook them all together.

Bargain hunt: Team up with a Jewish neighbour to bulk-buy items, or set up a WhatsApp group with friends to swap information on deals. I’m in a super helpful rebetzzins’ group where we share offers.

Freezer friends: Save time and start now. Cook and freeze dishes such as kugels and chicken meatballs, and bake cakes and challah that you can defrost as and when you need.

Wine not: Never throw away wine. Instead, fill an ice cube tray with the leftovers, freeze then tip the cubes into a bag, to use for cooking. You can mix and match wines in cooking — but keep whites and reds separate.

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