Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post: How to Shop for Passover on a Budget, Part 3

By Susie Sharf of Cheapskate

Some of you may have landed here because you've been following my How to Shop for Passover on a Budget series on Kosher on a Budget, here and here. I hope you've found this information useful and have already saved some money. So far in this series, I've been trying to apply some common sense frugal principles to Passover shopping. Just to sum up what we've talked about:
  1. Make a master Pesach year-to-year list. Mine is here.
  2. It's only eight days. You can do without.
  3. Arm yourself with a solid knowledge of Pesach-related halacha.
  4. Pesach shopping starts now. Actually, yesterday.
  5. Go back to basics.
  6. Invest in long-term items instead of throwing out money on short-term items. Think future.
  7. Reach out to your friends and community and share/pool resources.

So, now that we've got the principles down, I'm just going to toss out a few assorted tips, coupons and deals that will help you save money on Passover essentials, like matzoh, and incidentals, like tea.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for those buy-$50-worth-of-groceries-get-5-lbs.-of-matzoh-free deals that pop up every year at the major supermarket chains. Have in mind that they tend to happen very close to Pesach and you might want to get your shopping done sooner.

  • Here's a $2/1 coupon for a 5 lb. package Streit's matzoh. (Please note, even though this coupon is from a ShopRite circular, it is a legitimate manufacturer's coupon and should work in any store. I printed and clipped it and used it at a Denver Safeway without a problem.)
  • If you'd like to serve fish on Pesach but don't like the idea of shelling out $7-$8 for each roll of KLP (Kosher la'Pesach) gefilte, here's an fyi for you: Kirkland Atlantic Salmon Frozen fillets and Kirkland Frozen Steelhead Trout, both bearing an OU for year-round use, are also KLP, according to the OU. This is the Costco brand of frozen fish and it is great quality. These are all skinless, boneless, center-cut (no waste), individually wrapped fillets. The trout is slightly cheaper than the salmon, and tastes just as good; I substitute it in recipes calling for salmon all the time. One fillet=2 appetizer-sized portions and there are usually 7 fillets in each bag. Costco fish works really well in this great Pesach recipe, which is a staple in our home.

  • Gefilte fish a must for Pesach? Try sending for these A&B gefilte fish coupons, with this caveat: when I requested them a while back, they arrived about three weeks later, but I've gotten numerous reports from readers that they never received them.
Appliances and housewares:
    Although this goes against my usual buyer's instincts, I don't buy top-of-the-line appliances and housewares for Pesach; I prefer to save those for year-round use. Remember, Pesach is only eight days. That means that, even factoring in the extra guests you'll have, the wear and tear on your Pesach kitchen stuff will be a fraction of the amount that you put on your non-Passover items. While you don't want to get really cheap, low-quality items, it's perfectly ok to buy 18/0 silverware instead of 18/10, or Pfaltzgraff instead of Lennox, or Farberware instead of Calphalon. As the years progress, your needs will evolve, your tastes will change, you might want to upgrade or maybe you'll just grow tired of what you have, and knowing you haven't spent a fortune on an item that you've barely used will make changing it out a little easier. You might think this is in conflict with my recommendation that you "invest in long-term items instead of throwing out money on short-term items," but it's not. I'm suggesting a balance between building up a cache of housewares that will help you save money for many Pesachs to come, but without investing in top-of-the-line products.
Cleansers, detergents, counterware, paper goods etc.:
    We're often so focused on the expense of Pesach food, that we forget how much we spend on cleansers for The Big Clean. I recall going through an entire large bottle of Purex in just three days last year, when my washer was going non-stop the week before Pesach. Unless I find a fabulous sale paired with a high value manufacturer's coupon stacked with a store coupon, or a great online deal, I tend to buy most of my cleansers at the dollar store. Yes, the dollar store.
    Here's a little factoid that was news to me this year: many dollar stores, especially the large chains, will accept manufacturer's coupons along with their own store coupons. Family Dollar in Denver accepts manufacturer's coupons, and when you stack them with their store coupons and very low prices on brand names, many of the cleansers I buy there come out to near-free. You can also get brand-name Passover sponges, dishracks, and placemats there for a song. Most of their prices on paper goods rival those of even Costco.
KLP Herbal tea:
    Many stores raise the prices on Wissotzky Tea (which is the KLP herbal tea standard) to $4 or $5 per box before Pesach. Instead, go to Walmart or Target or any supermarket and pick up one of the KLP versions of Bigelow Tea, a national brand that goes for around $1.50-$2/box and is excellent quality tea. We drink it year-round. If you prefer to buy it online, here's a link to 6 boxes of my personal favorite, Plantation Mint, on Amazon for $12.38 (Subscribe & Save price, with free shipping=$2.06/box). Bigelow's KLP hechsher is from KofK. Each year, I pool together an assortment of Bigelow KLP flavors in a lined basket, which makes for a nice change from the usual Wissotzky tea box.
Stuff for the kids:
    What would a Passover seder be for the kiddies without a table littered with frogs? Get 12 dozen of these pretty cute frogs at Oriental Trading for $4.99 plus $6.99 shipping. Oriental Trading has a ton of fun things in bulk for children, so if you get together with a few other families and pool your merchandise order so that it's over $49, you can get free shipping with promo code RT1135200. (You can also get 4% cash back if you click through their Shop at Home link first.)
    Click here and look at page 35 for a list of the CRC's recommended Passover food for pets. Over the years, we've been buying our little beagle Science Diet, which is one of the recommended dog foods again this year. Click here to download some high value coupons for Science Diet pet food. Click here for a $7/1 coupon for Prescription Diet. Click here for a $2/4 cans coupon for Evanger's pet food.
    There are no dog treats that are recommended for Passover (almost all contain some form of chometz), so here's a low cost solution: when you're clearing the table after a meal, pile everyone's leftover soup and gravy into one plastic bowl. Soak 2 pieces of plain matzoh in it overnight. Break up the matzohs and either let them dry out or give them to your dog the way they are. Instant dog treats, for the negligible cost of two sheets of matzoh. Dogs love matzoh!
My most sincere thanks to the Academy my hostesses, the proprietors of Orthonomics and Kosher on Budget, both excellent blogs that address the economic challenges unique to the global religious Jewish community. As we get closer to Pesach, please check back on my blog, Cheapskate, for more Pesach money-saving tips.

Please share some of your frugal Pesach suggestions in the comments below.


Orthonomics said...

Thank you very much to Susie for sharing more tips. I always like learning more about store coupon policies. I've never been in a Family Dollar store, but I occasionally see their store coupons. Now that I'm aware these can be stacked, the next time I'm in the area with coupons I will take a look.

tesyaa said...

Although it seems sensible that an appliance only used a few weeks a year doesn't get a lot of wear and tear, I found that the inexpensive food processor I bought for Pesach didn't do its job very well. While the motor didn't wear out, it did a poor job of grating and slicing - so it was basically useless. Same with my cheap hand mixer

It goes against my grain to spend hundreds on Pesach appliances, though, so I did find a middle ground. I used the food processor mostly for grating horseradish - and I found that the inexpensive Microplane graters do a better job than any food processor. (Please, please get yourself a Microplane grater!!) And for mixing, I bought a small Bosch mixer on closeout at Monsey Housewares for just $100 that does an excellent job of mixing cakes and beating egg whites. It really pays to look for miniature versions of quality brands, or discontinued items that you can get for a good price. If you really need a food processor, consider a mini Cuisinart instead of a full-sized Black & Decker.

Daily Cheapskate said...

YMMV. Make sure you check with you Family Dollar store. The store in Denver might have a different coupon policy, though I'm guessing that since they are part of a chain, they all accept coupons. Thanks for the guest spot Ortho.

Daily Cheapskate said...

So Tesyaa, that "middle ground" you're referring to is EXACTLY what I mean. There is no need to spend $600 on a KitchenAid mixer for Pesach, BUT you should never buy junk...that's money thrown out. Get a lower-rung KitchenAid or a lesser name mixer.

Yannai Segal said...

FYI we make sushi/sashimi from the Costco Kirkland Salmon Fillets.

Just defrost the fillet in a ziploc bag with some vinegar and brine (we use rice vinegar and soy sauce the rest of the year)

BB said...

My dog hates matzah 'cause that's what we use for a cheap special diet (along with poached chicken breast) when he's ill. Another cheap KfP dog treat is a bit of carrot- and healthy too.
The dog can also do without treats for a week.

One more tip: be sure to use as many items that are KfP without a special hechsher. Many coffees, teas, spices, sugars, paper goods, dish detergents, and so forth fall into this category.

Anonymous said...

For the pets, remember that sudden changes in diet can cause GI problems. For example, even when changing food brands during the year, you need to do it gradually mixing the old brand with the new. My dog loves matzo but it has the same effect on her system as it does on human's. I use chicken and apple chunks for treats during Pesach. Baby carrots are also great treats, but not every dog will eat raw carrots.

Caroline said...

Last year for Pesach, I bought a Ninja food processor at BedBath (never heard of the brand before, but it was on sale). My frugal tip is to buy the 5lb pack of matzah (often a loss leader, at least in Chicago stores), and process a significant portion into matzah meal. No more matzah ball mix, matzah meal or cake meal purchased in my home! Three lbs of matzah-into-matzah-meal gets me through popovers, cakes, matzah balls, and whatever else I need for Pesach and the ENTIRE following year. My grandma recommends keeping it in the freezer.

Daily Cheapskate said...

BB, absolutely agreed about buying stuff that doesn't need a KLP hechsher (see

Regarding the pets, whenever you change your dog's diet, it's always a good idea to start mixing in the new food gradually with the old one, using less and and less of the old food...that acclimates them to the new stuff. We've already started giving our beagle a little of the Science Diet.

Caroline, if you are processing matzah for breading chicken, throw in some KLP potato chips...very unhealthy but delicious. I make chicken cutlets coated with matzah meal and ground potato chips on one of the last days as a treat. I've actually passed my leftover, post-Pesach matzoh through the food processor (mostly because I don't know what else to do with it) for making kneidlach during the year.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, the various Kitchen-aid small appliances (mixers, blenders, food processors) all sell "kits" of the blades, jars, etc. This doesn't save a ton of money, but does save space.

Now, you do have to clean the motor to remote the Chometz from it, but you really have to do that anyway. Clorox wipes + a Can of Air usually let's you remove/neutralize anything.

We have three sets, Meat, Dairy, Passover/Meat

Obviously the meat sets are predominately for parve stuff, but we wash it in the meat dishwasher.

Daily Cheapskate said...

Anonymous, great idea, but unfortunately our Rav doesn't allow us to just swap out the bowl and blades...I actually asked him at one point, and he said we had to get a whole new mixer for Pesach.

Caroline said...

MMMM, that might be worth paying for a single bag of potato chips! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Cheapskate, we definitely Kasher the motor and everything. It takes about 15-20 minutes to clean, it's not just swapping the bowl and blades, but if your Rav says no, oh well. :)

ProfK said...

Some good tips but I disagree about not buying the high end appliances because "it's just one week." Tastes change in mixers over the years? Not likely since mixers and what they do have remained pretty much exactly the same for decades. A Kitchenaid purchased in the mid-50s is still alive and well and doing a yeoman job for Pesach--and it will probably still be capable of being passed on eventually to one of my kids. My food processor is 34 years old and works like a dream--and yes, our Rav allows it so I have separate fleishig, milchig and pareve bowls and blades for the same pesach motor.

There's also this--it's not really "one week." During the regular year let's say you use that food processor for maybe one item each of six days--total of six uses. We have a full house and then some for all of pesach.In the prep run-up to Pesach I use that processor about a dozen times a day if not more, and then there is chol hamoed and heavy use again--easily the equivalent of a month's worth of use during the year. For that kind of use buying the best makes sense, fiscally and reliability-wise.

Miami Al said...


Depends what you mean by High End.

If you have a stainless steal Kitchen, you might have all stainless steal appliances in it. On the large appliances, that adds $100-$200/each (more for fridge), on the small appliances, it's $50/each.

Do you need a Stainless steel Kitchenaid Mixer for Pesach, or could you get by with a scratch and dent model. Could you get the polycarbonate bowls instead of the glass ones? Those are things that you might not want out for 50 weeks a year, but for 2 weeks/year, you can get by.

But perhaps that's NOT what is meant by high end in this conversation.

Caroline said...

I think the point is that you may not want the $600 mixer for Pesach, but you probably don't want the $19.99 version available at Walgreens or CVS, either. (Unless you have RR/ECBs to burn... hmmm....)

tesyaa said...

Why do I get a sense of one's-upmanship reading the comments here? "My mixer is amazing" - "no my mixer is amazing AND our rabbi lets us kasher!" - "well our rabbi would NEVER let us kasher"! The idea was to trade ideas, not brag about why you have the best or that your rabbi is stricter. If you don't like someone's suggestion, just don't use it.

Julie said...

This is my tri-state area method of saving money on Pesach. I am going to my in-laws for the sedarim, and I will be home for chol hamoed and the last days. I will have a lot of family at my house for the last days. What I am planning to do (and I have done this in previous years) is to wait until chol hamoed to buy food. I have meat and chicken in my freezer that I bought a month ago that I am designating for Pesach. I will have fruits and vegetables in the house to eat after I turn over the kitchen on Sunday, and I will have free matza from one of my regular grocery orders to nosh on when we get home on Wednesday night. Then I will shop on Thursday morning. If it is not in the grocery store on chol hamoed, I don't need it. And a number of stores put their kosher lepesach items on sale during chol hamoed. Two years ago all the the cake mixes were 50% off. Now I know that there are things that you can buy with regular certification before Pesach that need special certification on Pesach. But psychologically waiting until Pesach makes such a difference. You plan exactly what you will eat each meal and (as long as you ate before you came to the grocery store)you don't overbuy junk or buy things "just in case". Suddenly you realize you really don't need the pancake syrup or the fake mustard. It becomes a lot more like shopping for another 3 day yom tov, expensive but not horrible.

Anonymous said...

Julie, there are some people who would avoid the extra melachah on chol hamoed and would therefore shop in advance, unless it was unavoidable. If it is a hefsed merubeh (a big financial loss), the extra melachah might be permitted. Ask your rabbi.

JS said...

How about one upsmanship for both frugal and religious reasons?

We've been married more than 5 years and have yet to buy ANY pots, pans, utensils, or appliances. We go to one family for the sedarim and take home leftovers. We go to the other family for the end of Pesach. And for chol hamoed we eat leftovers and/or go to family and/or buy food in the city.

We called our rabbi and he gave us a haskama for this. But, ask your rabbi if it's OK.

tesyaa said...

JS - try it with a baby this year and let me know how it goes. And if it goes OK, try it in a few years with 2 babies and let me know how it goes... repeat until you realize you'd rather be home :)

BTW, how is he doing??

JS said...

Yeah - sadly, our frugal Pesach seems to be coming to an end. Though, our rabbi said he'd give us a heter in this instance.

He's doing great. I'll send you some pictures (everyone else is free to feel jealous - but only after checking with your local Orthodox rabbi).

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

TTBOMK, Melacha on Chol Hamoed doesn't apply to food bought for Yom Tov.

Not to say there aren't other issues, but that should not be one. Our Rov (who is known to be a real Machmir) allows us to buy on Chol Hamoed for the discount.

The OU list (which I don't see here but there was a link on KOB) is really useful. Also buy meat etc. NOW before prices go up for Yom Tov.

Mara @ Kosher on a Budget said...

Anon - I actually just asked my rav about the mixer... He wasn't sure so he's looking into it. Hopefully the answer will be yes! What is involved in cleaning the motor? Do you actually take it out of the casing?

Re. high end vs. low end appliances - I bought a very inexpensive food processor last year and while it works, it is very loud and has a much smaller bowl than my regular one. If I had it to do over again, I'd have shopped around more and gotten something a bit "better".

Orthonomics said...

I use my food processor for two things basically,
1. Chopping nuts
2. Making Matza Meal from free matza.

I finally bought a food processor last year when I decided I was tired of buying chopped nuts from the kosher store when I had a freezer full of raw nuts I could chop myself.

The amount to invest in a food processor depends on what you are making.

Anonymous said...

Cleaning the mixer motor:

Pull away from wall.

Wipe down entire mixer with bleach and water (or use cleaning wipes if you want to be lazy).

Take a can of air, go through each opening and crevice, blow out any food particles (almost nothing comes out, but it's good to remove dust anyway).

Wipe down again.

Make sure you have someone lift the mixer and clean the bottom as well.

Goal is to remove any chometz that might have touched the mixer machine and keep it from getting into your food. After bleach and water, it's no longer food.

Replace the bowl, mixing paddles, flour guard, or anything else you use the touches food. The machine itself doesn't touch the food, so you want to make sure it is chometz free, but it doesn't need to be "kashered."

If you don't like bleach, ask the Rabbi which chemicals are best for nullifying things.

Daily Cheapskate said...

Didn't mean to one-up anyone when I said our Rav doesn't let us use our mixer...believe me, I wish he would! But that's the way it goes. And again, I'm not advocating buying cheapola garbage appliances or housewares for Pesach. Just find your middle ground.

Chag kasher, frugal, v'sameach!

Anonymous said...

Ortho, just curious you don't use a food processor to grate vegetables? I find it invaluable to make fresh carrot salad, kugels, latkes etc...

Bklynmom said...

I just looked up the price for a bowl, cover and blade for my Cuisinart food processor--the total cost would be over $100! If you look around for a good deal, a decent complete processor can be had for that money. Of course that was on the Cuisinart website, others may be cheaper. We don't have much company for Pesach, and for my family of 6 a cheap Black and Decker food processor and a really cheap no-brand hand-held mixer I got for $6 works. But the fanciest things I make on Pesach are brownies and meringues. Not trying to one-up, rather saying that everyone has to figure out what works for them. But then again, that's the case with everything--tuition, fashion, granite coutertops--isn't it?

Mara @ Kosher on a Budget said...

Thanks, Anon! That sounds totally doable.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Last year for Pesach, I bought a Ninja food processor at BedBath"

i have no idea what that is, but it want one just so i can say i have a "ninja" kitchen item.


"We called our rabbi and he gave us a haskama for this."

are you being saracastic? why would you need a haskamah for that? in any case, i agree with tesyaa regarding staying with family for the entire week after the kids come.

Anonymous said...

What is it with this addiction to appliances? I've never had a food processor (unless my husband counts). Just a $20.00 blender and a $15.00 hand-held mixer that only gets used for mashed potatos. Nuts can be ground up quite easily in one of those manual grinders that cost about $10.00. An old fashioned grater provides great exercise. Of course, my kitchen is too small to have appliances that take up valuable counter space or cabinet space.

Orthonomics said...

Ortho, just curious you don't use a food processor to grate vegetables? I find it invaluable to make fresh carrot salad, kugels, latkes etc...

I can't remember the last kugel I made, so I can skip kugel totally on Pesach. We have a lot of veggies, but rarely grated. Our preference here is steamed or roasted. And my husband doesn't like salads with mayo at all.

Orthonomics said...

P.S. Addressing the Pesach food processor. I use my regular food processor for mincing veggies and herbs and for helping with latkes.

I have a black and decker cheapo that is over 12 years old and still works fine.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:16 AM if you have 20, 30, 40 guests at your seder as I do, grating all the veggies with a hand grater is quite a challenge and very time consuming.

I like to grate fresh carrots as an alternate salad, you can add fressh pinapple and nuts, and dress with lemon juice and salt. It's a cheap yet healthy and colorful side dish.

tdr said...

I'm surprised noone mentioned grape juice. Down here the local supermarkets list grape juice as the loss leader for weeks before Pesach. 2 64 oz Kedem's for $5. Every time I walk in there I buy two or four. You can stock up for the entire year at that rate.

I bought a small-ish cuisinart with a Bed and Bath %20 off any item coupon a few years ago. Since I spend the 2 days before Pesach with piles of veggies basically feeding them to my cuisinart I have found it to be worth it.

I had bought a cheaper one when I got married, but it died within a few years.

Abba said...

"if you have 20, 30, 40 guests at your seder as I do, grating all the veggies with a hand grater is quite a challenge and very time consuming."

nu, so at least when you finall finished grating you be'd yotze on
בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים
what's so bad about that. maybe people should be more machmir about this other things we worry about on pesach

Abba said...

2 biggest ways to save $:

1) get everything at costco. if they don't have it, then you don't need it. period.

2) read the pesach guides put out by the large kashrut agencies (e.g., OU, Star-K, CRC, but *not* blumenkrantz) very carefully, especially the sections taht tell you which products *don't* require a special hashgocho for pesach.

just one example combining both of the above: cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil does not require special pesach certification. i bought a 3-liter bottle yesterday in costco for $16. in my local kosher grocery this morning the jewish pesach brand was $12 for 1 liter.

JS said...


"We called our rabbi and he gave us a haskama for this."

are you being saracastic?"


No. Not in a million years. Our rabbi is very machmir and won't give us a heter for being sarcastic.


Noa said...

I am most surprised that no one seems to have mentioned the Israeli custom of "hagala" for kashering silverware, pots, pans (that are exclusively metal) during the year dishes. When I first made aliya I couldn't believe we in America had never thought of it. My exceedingly machmir parents (BTs) insisted there was no way it was allowed, but after seeing all the frum/charedi neighbors doing it jumped on the bandwagon. I have never purchased KFP silverware or pots (but did purchase a frying pan) every neighborhood in the days leading up to Pesach there are "hagala" stations outside most shuls where you pay 10-20 NIS to boil up your silverware. That is saving money!

Ariella's blog said...

Noa, my father used to kasher his glassware every year until the rabbi finally told him that glasses are so cheap, he should just buy another set for Pesach and not go through the 3 days of changing the water. Kashering pots and silverware is a bit of a pain, but there are places that offer hagala services. I don't know what the charges are. However, if one picks up some inexpensive pots and silverware, over a lifetime of Pesachs, the investment certainly pays off.

Another note:
Some products don't require kosher for Passover certification. I won't go into which ones here. You can consult your own halachic authorities to widen your range of possible products to buy without the extra expense that that kosher for Passover symbol usually entails. I ran an article on cosmetics for Pesach with reference to psak in

Miami Al said...


The local Shuls have Hagala pots running for anyone that doesn't want to do their own.

How the custom became to keep a separate set instead of this, I'll never know.

We have a super nice set of Silverware that we only use for Pesach, and the turnover is down to a science. Lift tray, clean drawer, insert Pesach tray.

But the "throw money at it" instead of "throw effort and knowledge at it" of American Jewry is quite strange.

Mr. Cohen said...

Does Halachah really require large Jewish families to only eat handmade shmurah matzah [the most expensive kind] the entire Pesach?
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