The Bar Mitzvah Cooking Session

Making MeatloafThis post contains details of how I cooked the meals for my son’s bar mitzvah. This system can work whether you are cooking a large number of meals for one or two people, or one meal for a lot.

The most time-consuming parts of most cooking jobs are shopping, preparing vegetables, and washing up. So make sure to allow enough time for these.

My husband went to the market Tuesday evening to buy potatoes, herbs, carrots, onions, celery, eggs, salad vegetables, and lemons. I already had bought the non-perishable items.

On mid-day Wednesday,  I bought ground meat and fish, and cubes of meat for the stew. Usually we cut up chickens ourselves, but I paid extra for the luxury of having everything cleaned and ground up. I picked up my husband from work and we went to a neighborhood with cheaper prices than where I live. When I got home, the meat and fish went to the coldest part of the refrigerator. After I rested, I prepared the marinade and added the cleaned chicken, putting them back into the refrigerator to roast on Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoon, I counted up the number of vegetables needed for each item. My kids and I went to work washing and peeling everything but the potatoes. I sorted them into recipes and put them back in the refrigerator. For example, I had one bag or container for the fish ingredients containing 5 carrots and 5 onions for the meatloaf. (See the cooking spreadsheet for an example, but a pen and paper are fine!)

I started cooking early Thursday morning. I set out the pans and utensils I needed, lay out newspaper, and set my food processor in the middle. I set the fish stock to boil. Then I took the bag containing the correct number of carrots and onions, processed them and placed them in a large bowl. I added the eggs, flour, and spices. Finally I removed the ground fish from the refrigerator and mixed everything together. Then I formed the gefilte fish balls,added them to the stock, waited for it to boil again, and set the timer.

The food processor has had only onions and carrots in it,  so I could move right on to the meatloaf without rinsing it off. (Anything that touches raw fish or meat must be treated with caution.) If I get interrupted I can place the processor in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing, or rinse it off briefly. Then I took the vegetables I set aside for the meatloaf, processed them and placed them in a clean bowl. My extra-large food processor is not big enough to do the final mixing. I added the other ingredients and the ground meat, placed the loaves in prepared pans, and put them in the oven. I set another timer (or use your cellphone).

When the meatloaf was done I transferred the marinated chicken into pans and put them in the oven.

I scrubbed and quartered the potatoes, then placed them in a large pressure cooker. The frozen string beans went in a steamer in my other pressure cooker. The bulgur for lunch went into a third pot, with onions, and the stew in a fourth. The stew was a mistake. I should have done it on Friday as it took too much space in the refrigerator. I had planned to make techina dressing but decided that no one would miss it.

You can read more about my bar mitzvah planning:

Preparing for Large Cooking Projects

Food Storage Problems

More Thoughts on Spoilage

Bar Mitzvah Menu Planning

Bar Mitzvah Menu for 35

Thoughts on Excess Food

Estimating Quantities

Quick Update on Bar Mitzvah Cooking


  1. Very interesting and informative post. I am forwarding this to my husband, who is the main “chef” in our family. May you have a good, sweet, healthy year (and mazal tov on your son’s Bar-Mitzvah!)

  2. I think reusing tools wherever possible helps me get shabbos together every week. Like you I’ll reuse the food processor after vegetables and plan on shredding potatoes last because they leave starchy residue.

    I’ll reuse the same bowl to make different cake batters in succession as long as too much time hasn’t passed due to the raw egg.

    Thanks for the time table though, that’s something I really need to work on!

  3. Very interesting post: I forwarded this to my husband, who is the “main chef” in our family (see his new blog,
    Thank you for some very good tips!
    Gmar chatimah tovah (I can still say this until Hoshana Rabah) to you and yours.

  4. LL, that link doesn’t seem to work. Please try again!

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