The waft of the frying latkes of Hanukkah is barely behind us.
The breeze in the trees of Tu B'Shevat have just blown by.
It's not even time to pack the Shaloch Manos baskets of Purim
But the whispers and echoes of anxiety of Passover are hovering ever-closer.
Hold it right there.
This is the year things are going to be different.
Preparing Peacefully for a Panic-Free Passover
Together, we are going into the preparations for Pesach with joyful determination, meaningful mindfulness, and the happy hum of organized, purposeful Passover preparations.
Over the next few blog posts I'll be sharing Passover Tips & Tricks, Meditations for those overwhelming moments, and Pesach Checklists galore.
I wouldn't call myself a maven.
I'm not the best balabusta.
But, hey! You know me.
I take really good notes.
And I've asked the wise and wonderful Jewish women of Facebook to share their best Passover tips, tricks and EASY recipes with us.
I've put all of the lists into a convenient e-book that you can easily download and print, along with a bonus Passover shopping list you'll want to print and take along with you.
You'll also receive future lists, inspiring Jewish art and Soul Tips.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to preparing for Passover.
You can find more comprehensive guides at Chabad.org
It’s more of an organically grown list that we’ll keep updating as you and our other friends add more ideas.
I have some links at the end for more detailed resources.
This guide and the Passover checklists you can sign up for in the box below are meant to help you prepare for Pesach, in a more relaxed, meaningful, and less-stress environment of love with a Joyfully Jewish, positive work flow.
TOP TEN PASSOVER TIPS1. Hug each member of your family!
Do this first.
Tell them, "I love you. We're all on the same team and we're here to help each other." Then dance like nobody’s watching to set the energy and mood for the whole process!
Simple is always good.
By the time you eat at the seder, it's so late, most people are not hungry. Our central mitzvah, eating matzah is the essence of simplicity!
Make a few family favorites, or establish a few family favorites, preferably recipes that can be made together as a family experience - that's how memories are made!
A food processor, a good set of pots and pans, or a single pot or set of utensils, knives or serving bowls. This way you can build up a good kitchen with decent quality items that last but not break the bank.
10. Use Pesach as an opportunity to clean up and simplify your diet.
Try to stick to vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs and dairy and try to avoid processed stuff as much as possible. Lots of salads help balance out all that matzoh, too. Passover is an opportunity to feel healthy and light.
You'll also receive future lists, inspiring Jewish art and Soul Tips.
11. BONUS: Hug your family (and yourself!) again… and again... and again.
PASSOVER LIST TIPS
(TIPS ABOUT MAKING LISTS)
1. Keep lists from year to year. What you did, when, how much, what worked and what didn't work. Then you don't have to reinvent the wheel each year.
2. Start your list NOW! Don't wait until after Pesach when you've forgotten some details. Start your list and keep it handy so you can find it easily and add to it.
3. Keep menus from every Yom Tov, every year so when it comes around to making a new menu your brain isn't all "how am I/what am I supposed to do for this holiday?!
4. Keep track of how much of each thing you use - sugar, potato starch, avocadoes, etc. Include a list of type and quantity of disposables.
5. Keep track of how many of each cake/kugel you make. Who likes what dessert, which recipe did or did not work, how to modify the recipe, etc.
6. Copy or print your recipes - with pics if possible and put them in clear plastic sheet protectors in a loose-leaf notebook. This way you can go through several years of your own recipes and menus for ideas.
7. Make a master shopping list to bring to the store with you.
Break it up store by store to make it easier to use.
1. Start cleaning kitchen cabinets that are not used often and unlikely to have food in them, like the ones over the fridge and oven or little-used closets, like in the guest room, laundry room, or office.
2. Do spring cleaning early, not at the last minute. If you're going to do cleaning that is not required for Pesach, do those at least a month before Passover so that they do not make the already busy work too overwhelming. This includes dusting, painting, washing curtains and general reorganizing.
3. Do a few extra cleaning items each day or week between Purim and Pesach or have your housekeeper do a few extra things each visit so it doesn't become overwhelming in the week before Pesach.
4. Chometz is not a swarm of little cooties that climb up your walls, slide on your shelves and fly into your food. I used to think this.
Want to download the whole list? Here's how:
You'll also receive future lists, inspiring Jewish art and Soul Tips.
PASSOVER KITCHEN SET-UP TIPS
1. If you put foil on the walls or door of your fridge, wet the surface first to make the foil stick like magic.
2. Save an hour on prepping your sink! If you have a porcelain or other non-kasherable sink, use a tarp or thick painter's drop cloth to line your sink instead of foil.
3. Cover your counters with foil, then use sticky laminate tiles, corrugated plastic, or vinyl flooring on top (from Home Depot) - or cover with a plastic tablecloth and vinyl placemats from the Dollar Stores. These are all cheap and disposable and they make firmer, easy to clean surfaces. You can also reuse the place mats or vinyl flooring from year to year.
4. If you have the space, store your Pesach things in a portable utility cabinet that you can just bring into your kitchen already stocked and ready to go.
5. Never leave your peeler on your scrap heap! Too many get inadvertently thrown away with the peelings. Train yourself to put it down on a clean surface.
6. Don’t throw away plastic bags and wrappings. Cut them into large pieces. Peel your veggies and fruits on top of them and discard the peelings in the wrappings.
7. Put a piece of cut foil down the center of your stove on top of the foil you used to cover the stove top (if you do that). Makes a good spoon rest that you can replace as needed.
HOW TO AVOID LONG LINES
AT THE KOSHER GROCERY
1. Consider renting a fridge 3 weeks prior to Pesach (ask the rental place for a brand new one). Then you can shop and prepare early.
2. If you live in a home without a garage or a spare room, clean out one or two cabinets in your kitchen very early by consolidating the contents in another cupboard and "eating down" all your chometz.
3. Start with your freezer and clear out the chometz and clean as early as you can. Then you can buy and freeze meat and fish before the long grocery lines start.
4. Buy Pesach packaged goods early and have a place to stash them (see above).
Shop early for items that do not require Kosher-for-Passover supervision. You can download a list each year from Rabbi E. Eidlitz at kosherquest.org
5. Shop early in the morning.
Use disposable foil oven trays to line your racks after cleaning them. Use one set for chometz foods and then change them out for Pesach foods. We use them year round for easier fridge cleaning and no, they do not harm the fridge or block the cold air from reaching the food.
Download the whole list plus a handy-dandy shopping list here:
1. Book a babysitter for a couple of days. What a difference! Along with the housekeeper for an extra couple of days.
2. I LOVE this tip! Hide coins in places you need the kids to clean - so in random coat pockets, for example. They search the coats thoroughly and their reward is a few $$$ each.
3. Check kids' projects that you have displayed on walls or anywhere for cereal, pasta, etc! Or check for any pasta 'jewelry' they may have made as a project. Remember the play dough!
4. Assign jobs to each child or family member - but let them choose! Having some choice in the process makes a big difference.
5. Make a system so that another family member inspects to ensure it's all looking spick and span and chametz free!
6. Each child or a few kids can take turns helping to clear and serve each course at the Seder and other Yom Tov meals. Use a written roster of who washes, dries and puts away dishes so there are no arguments. Trading allowed but write it down (not on Shabbos or Yom Tov)!
7. Put the toys in a mesh bag and run them through the dishwasher or washing machine with a towel.
8. Dump toys in bath tub for a while and let the kids rinse and wipe and pack away to sell for chametz or give away.
9. Buy some new inexpensive toys especially for Pesach every year. Have some special toys, games or photo albums that ONLY come out on Passover.
PASSOVER FOOD TIPS
2. Invest in the best peeler you can afford (they don’t cost much). You’ll be using it a lot and if you peel EVERYTHING, even tomatoes and peppers, like we do, it will be so much easier and faster with a good peeler.
3. Write out a basic menu plan of which meat and fish dishes salads and desserts you'll be serving for each meal for the whole Yom Tov.
4. Use goggles to cut onions. Keeping them cold also cuts down on their sharpness.
5. Chop and fry many pounds of onions at the beginning and freeze them in smaller portions so that you can easily use them in many recipes throughout Yom Tov.
6. You can carmelize 5-10 pounds at once in a crockpot overnight, saute them on the stove, or roast them with oil in the oven.
7. If you use spices, close them in a container very tightly and sealed up in ziplock bags for the next year. You might think that they will lose their flavor, but because they are not open, they taste fresher and newer than the ones used and replaced all year.
8. Google gluten-free and paleo recipes. They are easy to adapt for a Pesach menu.
9. Roast meat in a slow cooker with wine. Simply cover the meat (and any veggies you want to include) with inexpensive dry or semi-dry wine. Softens and marinates the meat and tastes amazing!
10. Cook recipes that are already familiar to you with a few tweaks for Pesach so that not everything is complicated or new.
11. Batch cook! Cook the largest pot of soup you can fit on your stove and freeze or refrigerate in batches. Make multiple kugels or larger batches of side dishes, portion them out and label them.
12. Consider making roasted veggies instead of kugels for at least some of the meals. Put a little oil and salt on just about anything and roast it and it's tasty!
13. Having salads on hand for munching is a really good idea - especially just before Pesach and during chol hamoed. Make protein salads like chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, or potato, fruit, or veggie salads.
14. Layer cut fruit in a tall clear glass or plastic cup to make a pretty parfait.
15. Buy twice as many avocadoes as you expect to need and keep some of them in the fridge so they're not all ripe the same day.
16. Use 1 or 2 crock pots simultaneously so you can literally be cooking 2 main dishes or soups at the same time day or night and not have to worry about it burning in the oven. Saves so much time and sanity!
17. If you don't use your year-round oven during Pesach, you can use a separate Passover-only toaster oven and 2 or 3 crockpots. On Yom Tov, keep one on high and one or two on low so that you can more quickly heat something pre-cooked and then move it into one of the low pots to keep warm. The 3rd crockpot comes in handy for cholent on Shabbat.
18. Pre-cook as much as you can so that it just needs to be warmed up for a Yom Tov meal.
19. Use crock pot bags or parchment paper to minimize clean-up of pots. You can use them to create compartments to warm up more than one dish in the same pot.
20. Mashed potatoes freeze well and can be used for shepherd's pie, potato soup, latkes, or plain.
Whew! This is getting long! Want to download the whole list to save? Here you go:
STORING & LABELING TIPS
1. How to Freeze and Store Soup:
Flat in gallon zip lock take up the least space. Carefully squeeze out the air as best as you can. Double-bag with each bag facing the opposite direction
Cut off the tops of OJ or almond milk 1/2 gallon boxes. Line them with plastic bags and freeze the soup in stackable bricks.
2. Label all your foil pans on the sides too so when you have 100 identical pans in the freezer you can see what they are immediately without unpacking the entire freezer.
1. Keep a bag of Pesach cosmetics from year to year. Saves that standing in the pharmacy consulting 3 Pesach guides and wasting precious time every year. But do check, because some items could go rancid.
2. Make sure you are clear with the difference between spring cleaning and Pesach cleaning. Can’t say this often enough!
3. Clean cars early and then only allow kitniyos or fruit/veggie/other non-chometz snacks in them.
4. Don't buy crazy packaged products that cost a lot. Instead, eat basic, healthy foods that just happen to be chometz-free (chicken baked with sauteed onions and root veggies - aka ein kadempte chicken, fresh veggies, salads, omelettes, baked or pan-seared fish, chicken cacciatore, ratatouille, chicken covered in pesto, vegetable soup, sweet potato oven fries, tuna with cut veggies).
5. Make your favorite foods first.
AT THE END OF PASSOVER
1. Write out what you have left for the following year so you don't have to buy any, e.g. bottle of dishwashing liquid, 2 unopened toothbrushes, bottle of black pepper, etc.
2. Also, note what you need to buy or replace for next year, such as cutting mats, a new appliance, tablecloths, etc.
3. Thank your family, housekeeper, and everyone who helped you with a little gift. It goes a long way!
4. Do you really have to be in such a rush to eat chometz foods as soon as humanly possible after the holiday? Consider going to bed early and packing up in a rested and relaxed way the next day if you can, instead of staying up late to get it all done.
So, my friend, that's it!
At least, for now. Don't forget to download the WHOLE LIST to save for later! Here's how to do that again:
Do you have any easy Passover Recipes or helpful tips to share?
Please comment below!
Bracha v'hatzlacha! Blessings for Success!
PASSOVER CLEANING RESOURCES
Passover Cleaning Made Easy - Aish.com
Chabad Cleaning Checklist
Pesach Crisis Cleaning Checklist
The Grand Passover Checklist from Valley Chabad