It’s that time of year again where many of us start to experience Passover Anxiety Disorder, for how can one possibly fit in all the specialty shopping, cooking, and cleaning this holiday demands while still getting everything else we barely find time to accomplish and still show up at the seder in one piece (and awake).
Here are some Passover planning tips to help you get through this hectic time. Please share your tips as well in the comments section.
1. Start Early and Take Notes
The day after Purim is my cue to take out my notes from last year and start organizing for the four weeks ahead.
I have two documents that help me organize from year to year;
- Kitchen Equipment List – This is a list of all my pots, pans, dishes, and baking pans, etc. stored away for Passover use. I take notes during and after the holiday of any equipment I need to buy or kasher. This helps spread out expenses since you have a full year to buy what you need. It’s also helpful when choosing recipes that may require specialty equipment. And make sure to update your list if you take something from your passover stash for everyday use.
- Calendar Grid and Shopping List – This one pager is my passover planning bible. In the calendar grid I plan out my cleaning schedule and note specific deadlines like meat orders and other reminders. The lower half has my “do ahead” list, market lists for specific markets, basics that I need to prepare, and my seder menu and seder plate reminders. I print it out so I can take notes during and after the holiday on things I would like to do differently for the next year, menu items that were not successful, or foods I overbought or forgot to buy.
Learning from your experience year to year will make the holiday planning much smoother. I have a dedicated Passover binder where I keep these documents and all my menus from the last ten years of making seders, recipes I clip from magazines or print from the web, kids activities and anything else related to the holiday.
2. Organize the Pantry
Organizing the pantry is my first to-do item on my schedule.
- Keep a shopping bag or box handy for donating food as you clean out your pantry. (You can make a note on your calendar to remind yourself to drop off these items).
- Make space for passover foods. Buying early helps to spread out expenses.
- Plan menus around pantry items you want to use up before the holiday.
- Evaluate your food usage. Finding items that were there since the last holiday gives you a good idea of how you’re using up your food.
- Tackling your freezer early is also a good idea. Use up precooked frozen foods in your meals to minimize waste as the holiday approaches and clear up space for passover items.
3. Buying Passover Food
I begin my passover shopping when items become available in the markets (usually right after Purim).
- Keep a shopping list from year to year. I write my list in my passover planning bible (see #1 above). I divide the lists by which markets specific items are found (health food store, kosher market, farmer’s market).
- Take note of order deadlines and pickup dates for internet orders, butcher, fish market, etc. (This can all be written in your calendar grid – #1 above).
- Shop early for dried goods. For perishables I try to have all that shopping done at least 3 days before the seder if possible.
- Know what foods do not require passover certification. You can find those lists in any of these guides;
- OU Passover Guide
- Star-K Passover guide
- CRC Passover Guide
- Kosherquest | Rabbi Eidlitz Passover Guide
4. Cleaning the House
- Let’s put this in perspective: Passover cleaning is not Spring cleaning. It’s nice to have your walls washed and windows cleaned, but the goal is to get rid of chametz in your house. So be realistic and prioritize.
- Have a plan for cleaning the house and kitchen. Begin with the rooms least likely to have food (upstairs bedrooms, storage rooms) and allow food consumption in a limited area – like your dining, kitchen, and living room.
- Review what needs to be koshered in the kitchen and make sure you give yourself enough time to accomplish it by the time you want to begin cooking for the seder. I’ve been giving myself a 3 nights before the seder deadline depending on when Shabbat falls, but that means I can still start cleaning cabinets, self cleaning the ovens, and clearing space for passover dishes a few days before the full transition.
- Remember to plan for how and what you will feed your family while the kitchen transition takes place. Some families go out for dinner. I use my outdoor grill, rotisserie and toaster oven for those in between days.
How do you tackle Passover cleaning? Please share your tips below;