Whatever amount you think you need, buy one more! You think you need one oil? Buy two! Somehow the groceries get depleted lightning fast. Also, disposable pots are a lifesaver — one little burner and a few of those disposable pots were all I needed to make chicken soup, braised meats, or even fish for small meals.
I’ve never seen my mother stressed out about making Pesach, so some of her attitude rubbed off on me. It’s eight days; we don’t need thirty cakes and ten batches of cookies. Also, I really limit side dishes. I make apple kugel and zucchinimushroom kugel in muffin tins so I can reheat what I need, and the rest is either fresh salads or roasted vegetables.
I follow my mother’s path of being very organized with lots of lists, and to look for fun and creative Pesach utensils. We had some really memorable Pesach dishes when I was growing up, and it was always nostalgic to see them come out of their boxes. Do whatever you can to make the Pesach prep process fun and enjoyable for you and your family, so you’ll create traditions and memories! —Sarah Faygie Berkowitz
Stay organized and focused. Pesach is a privilege and not a burden. Don’t make it into one by doing unnecessary work!
Allow an extra cushion of time for kashering the kitchen. You think you’re going to be done when everything is cleaned,but you still have to cover everything, kasher the sinks, kasher any silver or pots you want to use, and bring in the Pesach dishes. Cleaning the bedrooms can be done in a more perfunctory way. And leave the car to your husband and kids.
I wish someone would’ve told me how expensive Pesach can be — especially the first time. Don’t go crazy the first year: buy a set of good meat pots, one or two dairy pots, and a frying pan. If you’re into pareve, buy a pareve pot for potatoes and eggs. If you plan to bake, buy a mixer. It doesn’t have to be a KitchenAid — it’s only used once a year, after all. Wait to buy dishes and silverware, it’s easier to just use nice plastic.
Pesach is just seven (or eight) days long. The limited pantry actually makes cooking easier because it forces us to go back to the basics. Make delicious, simple recipes that highlight the ingredients for what they are without masking them in sauces and processed ingredients. Think roasted veggies, broiled fish, grilled chicken and meats, soup, salads, fruit, nuts, and chocolate! My number-one tip is to look for recipes in your own repertoire that you know your family likes — and that just happen to be kosher for Pesach all year long!
The most helpful thing I received before my first Pesach was an allinclusive shopping list from my aunt. She also gave me a fabulous Erev Pesach checklist for the Seder. I am indebted to her to this day.
A food processor may seem like a splurge, but if you can possibly swing it — get one! You will use it all Yom Tov. Think potato kugel, zucchini kugel, carrot kugel, sorbets, and did I mention potato kugel? If you don’t want to spend your entire Yom Tov at the sink, you may want to make the choice I did — and not purchase a set of china for Pesach. There are beautiful paper goods out there that will enable you to spend more time with your family and less time cleaning. And double everything you can. No one will complain if they have lemon ices on the first day and the last day.
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