DO-AHEAD Rosh HaShanah Favorites
Photo: Liz Rueven: Filled Challah

DO-AHEAD Rosh HaShanah Favorites

Do you like to get lots of cooking done ahead of the holidays? We may be cut from the same cloth.

Rosh HaShanah marks the beginning of a season of celebration and contemplation, with most of the days replete with festive meals.

Rosh HaShanah vegan apple tart
Photo: Liz Rueven; dairy free & vegan apple tart

Here’s what I’ve learned: to beat my hosting jitters, I need to be super organized. And I need to cook lots of dishes in advance. As long as they don’t suffer from freezing, the freezer is my best friend. It may be yours, too.

As Karen Cinnamon, founder and chief creative at Smashing Life Club (and Smashing the Glass) advises, “NO GUILT; NO SHOULDS.”

This simple thought really helped me.

Does that mean tossing out tradition? Absolutely not. It means expressing your traditions in ways that bring joy to you and your family. At our place, that means my getting ahead of the holiday jitters by getting ahead of my prep.

Rosh HaShanah outside Kosher like me
Photo: Liz Rueven; casual but still special

Does pulling out your family heirloom china bring you joy and put you in a festive spirit? Do it! These unique pieces are meant for special celebrations like these.

Rosh HaShanah table outside
Rosh HaShanah al fresco

But if unwrapping and hand washing those fragile dishes and crystal goblets brings on a pepto- worthy belly rumble, skip it this year and re-think your table settings.

No guilt. No shoulds.

Here’s what I know after hosting family gatherings for a long, long time:

Say YES! 

Say YES to every offer of help from every guest coming to celebrate with you. You know who the comfortable bakers are, right? Ask him/her to make their favorite Rosh HaShanah cake. Or offer up your favorite honey cake or apple cake recipe and ask them to bake it for you.

Rosh HaShanah apple cake
Photo: Liz Rueven; favorite dairy-free apple cake

Know who grows the best veggies in her magazine worthy vegetable garden? Ask her to bring a raw salad, a prepared veggie dish or whatever SHE likes to make.

raw Rosh HaShanah salad
Photo: Liz Rueven; Symbolic Salad for Rosh HaShanah

I have a dear friend who loves making fruit salad. I can always count on her. I would suggest that she consider this Late Summer Plum Salad with Minty Cardamom Dressing.

Have a friend who lives near a Jewish bakery who can pick up challah for your table? Remind her to order it ahead and check another item off your list.

round challah for Rosh HaShanah
Breads Bakery festive challah, NYC multiple locations

Are you lucky enough to have a challah baker in your crew? Ask him/her to bake at home. If you want to share info on symbolic ingredients for Rosh HaShanah, consider this challah recipe from @RachelBergerCakes. It’s filled with dates, leeks, honey and pomegranate molasses. It’s extraordinary.

challah for Rosh HaShanah
Photo: Liz Rueven; filled challah for Rosh HaShanah


Remember to ask everyone to bring items ready to be served. No assembling fussy dishes in your cousin’s kitchen, please.

Do Ahead! Do A LOT ahead. AND FREEZE as much as possible.

Here are some Rosh HaShanah family faves that can be made ahead and frozen. Label accurately with number of servings and any special designations (pareve, gluten-free, vegan or “may need seasoning”). Mark these items as “frozen” on your menu so you remember to defrost on time.

chicken soup with dumplings
Photo: Liz Rueven
Chicken soup with kreplach (dumplings)

Chicken soup

Red Wine brisket Rosh HaShanah
Photo:Liz Rueven; Red wine brisket


Kugel (only noodle kugels freeze well in my experience) like the Yerushalmi Kugel in Shannon Sarna’s just released cookbook, Modern Jewish Comfort Food; 100 Fresh Recipes for Classic dishes from Kugel to Kreplach.

Honey cookies like these from my dear friend, Ronnie Fein.



Rosh HaShanah honey cake
Photo: Liz Rueven honey cake

You may freeze this honey cake but glaze and decorate on day you’ll serve it. Make glaze one day ahead.

Once you have your menu ideas in order, consider your physical space. Be sure you have enough chairs, tables, serving pieces, platters, linens. Borrow from like-minded friends or family members. Swapping is more economical, eco-friendly and creative.

honey for Rosh HaShanah
Photo: Liz Rueven
honey tasting at Red Bee Apiary, CT.

Consider focusing on a honey theme as you wish each other a sweet new year. Place honey filled straws (for the kiddos, only) or small jars of honey (more eco- friendly) as gifts at every two place settings. Your guests will love learning about your favorite local honey source. Red Bee Apiary, just up the road, loved learning about our focus on honey for this holiday.

Is the weather forecast perfect? Why not move the celebration outside if you have space?

Rosh HaShanah outside table
Consider al fresco dining for your holiday

Don’t forget to scroll up to the HOLIDAYS section, click on Rosh HaShanah and peruse that section for many more ideas. I’ll be posting more inspiration @kosherlikeme on the gram so be sure we’re friends there.

And finally, take some time to think about why we gather to celebrate and what makes it feel comfortable and joyful to be together.

You’ve got this.

Rosh HaShanah kosher like me
Photo: Liz Rueven


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