Monday, April 03, 2006

Making a Budget Pesach

This post is probably going up too late to really make a difference this year, but I imagine that there are still plenty of people out there that haven't even thought about their cooking and possibly even their cleaning yet. So, if the post doesn't benefit everyone, hopefully it will benefit someone.

I believe that much of the expense of Pesach is self-imposed. While wine and shumra matzah for the Seder (either hand made or machine made), and the many festive yom tov and Shabbat meals will put a dent in your budget (especially if you hold by certain sect's minhagim), there are still plenty of ways to keep the dent minimal with a little planning and discipline.

My readers definitely gave me some good tips here, so I also want to take the opportunity to thank them for helping this post take form.

1. Secure the lists of acceptable Kosher L'Pesach products: While many people run straight to their grocery market's kosher l'pesach isle, there are plenty of products and even some store brands that are kosher l'pesach and you just need to know what they are. If you are looking for a good list that gives you direction, try KosherQuest. When it comes to Pesach shopping, ignorance is not bliss.

2. Keep Inventories and Start Planning Early: Esther pointed out that the best time for planning for Pesach is right after Pesach concludes. You can inventory the items that you already have, save your shopping lists, and make notes as necessary while the details of the yom tov are still fresh in your mind.

3. Plan, plan, and plan some more: JakBlack points out the importance of making detailed lists of everything you are cooking and the ingredients that you will need. You want to avoid purchasing items that look great at the time and prove to be useless. This advice can also apply to the cleaning process. I always hate to see ladies worn to the bone because they cleaned every toy and checked the pockets of every piece of clothing they own, even if the chances of wearing that down jacket in mild weather are slim to none. Sometimes it is better to just put things away in the closet with the chometz kitchenware.

4. Buy Early and Freeze: It maybe too late now, but "Rachel" is certainly correct that prices of food that are kosher year-round seem to magically increase after Purim. Buying and freezing in advance will certainly save you money, and it also spreads out the damage that can hit hard if you shop for everything in the days before Pesach.

5. Just Do Without: Every year there are more and more unique kosher l'pesach products that you don't need and aren't necessary. Just this week I saw an ad for Kosher L'Pesach Macaroni and Cheese (non-gebrochts too) for a whopping $2.99 for 8 ounces. Buying products that not only are very expensive, but are completely unnecessary is what I call the "big eyes syndrome." Avoid this syndrome. On top of the "big eyes syndrome," there seems to be another syndrome where we buy what our parents served because there is some tradition or mesorah to eat overpriced jelly candies that you may not even care for in the least. I call this syndrome the "nostalgia syndrome," and it is one to steer clear of also. Reader "Helene" is a recovering victim form the "big eyes syndrome" and now eats fresh and healthy food, see tip 6.

6. Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy: If you aren't already serving plenty of fresh, healthy dishes could be kosher l'pesach, pull out your cookbooks and find some creative ideas. On top of the fact that eating healthy dishes will leave you feeling better during and after the yom tov, these dishes won't break the bank like some of overpriced prepared Pesach dishes will (Pesach Pizza for $7.00 a pie, anyone?).

7. Think Pesach All Year Long: When you are still building up your supplies of kosher l'pesach kitchenware, it is very important to watch for bargains all year round. Shopping for these items in the last few weeks before Pesach can leave you over-stressed and over-budget. If you like to have new clothing or shoes for the yom tov, there is also no halacha that says you can't buy that nice new suit months before on clearance and save it for the yom tov. So, keep your eyes open throughout the year for good bargains so you don't find yourself paying premiums in the rush. .

8. Put away for next year: If you have enough space, make yourself a Pesach cabinet to store non-perishable products that you only use for Pesach. Why make something you don't use during the year chometzdik and have to buy again?

9. Shop for Snacks after the Sedarim: If you shop during chol ha'moed for food, the markdowns generally begin after the sedarim. So, if you just have to have that nosh, hold off for a few days and then go experience the "big eyes syndrome" and the "nostalgia syndrome."

10. Free cleaning help: Before you run out and pay the rising costs for cleaning help before Pesach, delegate age-appropriate and ability-appropriate tasks to your children and your husband. You may not get perfection, but chometz has a halachic definition and once you clarify that definition with your Local Orthodox Rabbi, the fact that the bathroom wasn't cleaned to perfection probably won't seem like the biggest tragedy since that mildew in the tiles wasn't chometz anyways.


respondingtojblogs said...

On top of the "big eyes syndrome," there seems to be another syndrome where we buy what our parents served because there is some tradition or mesorah to eat overpriced jelly candies that you may not even care for in the least.

LOL. I think non-sephardic readers might be lost. Those Joyva jelly rings are kitniyot.

Orthonomics said...

I'm not thinking of the Jelly Rings? I'm thinking of the Orange Slices in many different colors. Those aren't kitniyot.

Anonymous said...

there are plenty of ring jells made with non-kitniyot. They're not as good as the Joyva ones that we mistakenly buy from time to time, but they're acceptable!

Anonymous said...

You mean there isn't a mesorah to eat jelly rings?

Seriously, Sphardilady - great post. But that line was classic!

Charlie Hall said...

'This advice can also apply to the cleaning process.'

One of the first things I ever heard from an Orthodox rabbi was, "Dust is not chametz!"

'Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy'

I have always eaten lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. All kosher for pesach with no supervision. All healthy. And none subject to price gouging.

'store non-perishable products '

I still have 3 cans of kosher for pesach Bumble Bee tuna left over from last year. It is MUCH better quality than the "Jewish" brands IMNSHO.


Something for us Ashkenazim to remember: THERE IS NO MITZVAH TO GET RID OF KITNIYOT! We just can't eat it during the 8 days. We serve our cats kitniyot. And we eat it on erev Pesach after we have to have destroyed our chametz. We may even eat it immediately after the chag even before we turn over our kitchen back to chametz - I miss the rice more than I miss bread. (In case you ask, my LOR approved.)

kasamba said...

OMG this list is AMAZING- I am storing it for next year!!!!

Unknown said...

This list is great. Many good tips. I've started the planning in advance - strating right after passover by listing what I had leftover so that I know to buy less of it the following year. For the last 2 years my expenses for food have gone down.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, those jelly rings and fake fruit slices...I used to think it was a mesorah to eat that stuff! Fresh and healthy is the way to go! There are so many side dishes you can make with fresh vegetables or frozen, as well. Fresh cauliflower can be grated in the food processor and it looks like rice! It's a great, healthy side dish. Saute with some garlic and season it with salt, pepper.