Lucky for me, I'm actually not cooking this week! (So rare, and I really appreciate it when that happens. Even though cooking makes me happy, I still like having a break sometimes.)
In any case, I figured I could just share a few tips and shortcuts for making Shabbat a bit more frugal and simple without it feeling stingy. We try not to waste the chicken - I splurge and buy organic chicken for ethical and environmental reasons - so I don't cook much extra chicken. Instead I make sure that there is plenty of good stuff on the table, using in-season produce and inexpensive, filling grains and legumes.
Here are some simple ideas: steam those vegetables you bought when the shuk was closing, or roast them if you're already using your oven. Roasting really brings out the flavor in so many vegetables. Certain kinds do best if roasted alone (like beets), others can be roasted as a medley (I like roasted ratatouille - place diced onions, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggplants in a roasting pan and toss with olive oil. roast uncovered in your oven till they smell amazing and look done).
Rice, barley, couscous (whole grain, of course) and other grains are nutritious and frugal can be embellished in so many ways. I like to add mushrooms to most dishes, but that's because I really like mushrooms!
If you're looking for a side dish with some zip, you can make a southwestern-style pasta salad. Simply combine cooked pasta with diced tomatoes, peppers, green onion, cooked black beans, and frozen corn niblets (these defrost very quickly when mixed into the salad!). Season with a jar of salsa (hard to find here - so you can use one of those spicy tomato based piquante salads instead), lemon juice, and ground black pepper.
Enjoy your Shabbat! Let me know what you do to fill your table with good food without spending all night and day cooking! I could always use more ideas.