How to Shop for Passover on a Budget, Part 2 (Guest Post)

With Purim behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the next holiday on the calendar: Pesach! I know I’m still in denial, but I will start making a list soon. In the meantime, Susie from Cheapskate is back with her helpful series on how to shop for Passover on a budget. If you missed her first four tips, be sure to read them here.
matzah How to Shop for Passover on a Budget, Part 2 (Guest Post)

 

5. Go back to basics.

I have not bought a KLP cake mix in years. With all the great Pesach recipes at my disposal, in the giant, global, kosher cookbook known as the Internet, there is simply no need. I have never seen a need for most KLP mixes and many of the processed foods; we simply go back to basics and make things from scratch. Though I roast a turkey every Pesach, I never splurge on the heimishe KLP brand canned cranberry sauce that usually goes for around $4/can in my area. Instead, I stockpile a few unopened bags of cranberries in my freezer (no special KLP hechsher required on raw berries) and make the sauce from scratch…so easy. It’s healthier and it’s so much cheaper. Skip all the canned and frozen vegetables and raid your fresh vegetable stand. Skip the salad dressings and make your own, or use lemon juice and salt. I have a friend who even makes her own ketchup on Pesach! (Admittedly, this is a little beyond my kitchen skillset.) Use Pesach as an excuse to revert to more healthy eating for a week.

 

6. Invest in long-term items instead of throwing out money on short-term items. Think future.

Kitchen appliances such as a food processor and a stand mixer are smart ways to use all that money that you’re going to save on groceries this Pesach, because they will help you continue to save money in the long run. Again, keep an eye out for sales and promo codes over the course of the year.

These are tools that you will have in years to come, they will last much longer than your regular appliances because you use them only one week a year, and most importantly they make your life easier.

Instead of spending $5 on KLP cooking spray, pick up a Misto olive oil sprayer, and fill it with extra-virgin olive oil. This is another example of investing in something that will save you money for Pesachs to come. (I actually use one of these during the year as well.)

Instead of covering your countertops with shelf paper, plastic or foil or some other disposable covering each year, invest in permanent covers. Eight years ago, we bought heavy-duty cardboard, measured and cut it to fit exactly to all of our kitchen countertops, and then covered the cutouts with vinyl. Each year, instead of spending two hours before Pesach covering our counters, I just whip out the pre-made covers and fit them in place, which takes all of three minutes. The vinyl makes cleanups easy (whereas the shelf paper always got tacky and messy), and after Pesach is over, I wipe them down, and put them away for next year. If you’re willing to invest a bit more, you can get super-practical plexiglass counter-covers measured and cut. You can do the same thing with shelf liners for your Pesach cabinets. Cut vinyl to the proper sizes, label each liner on the back with a Sharpie (i.e. right cupboard, 3rd shelf) and reuse them instead of spending hours measuring and cutting liner paper for all your shelves anew each year.

 

7. Reach out to your friends and community and share/pool resources.

 

Networking: Use social media. The Denver Jewish community has a Facebook group called the Denver Kosher Information Exchange, where members share local kosher sales and information. If KLP cream cheese goes on sale at the Denver Target, I will know about it that day, because someone will post it on the FB group. Every kosher community should have a group like this….start one! Use Facebook, Twitter, email, frugal blogs, and if you’re less social-media inclined, the phone, to share information with your friends.

 

Social buying deals: Use deal-a-day social purchasing sites like Groupon and Living Social to buy car-detailing and house-cleaning deals and save 50% or more.

 

Co-ops: If you live in a community outside of NY where the prices of kosher meat, cheese, and grape juice soar before Pesach, get a group of friends together and do a shipment of what you need from NY. Contact me if you need the names of kosher stores and shipping companies that are happy to work with Jewish communities and are reasonably priced. If you get a larger group together, the shipping costs will shrink and you will do very well. Earlier this year, a friend and I organized a large shipment of Kedem grape juice from NY to Denver, because I couldn’t stand paying the standard Denver price of $8-$9 for a 64 oz. bottle. With shipping, we ended up charging around $4/bottle. This month, another friend of mine is organizing a glatt kosher meat co-op from a midwest supplier. Two of the shuls here routinely organize community shmurah matzoh buys from New York or Israel. There is money-saving power in bulk buying.

 

Reach out to local vendors: While some vendors are immovable, there are many retailers who love to hear from their customers and are more than happy to work with you. This year, the Costco in Denver started supplying kosher meat, poultry, and cheese products, and even brought in hamatashen for Purim and matzoh and grape juice for Pesach. Their prices are excellent. We have another local supplier who sells discount kosher goods by the case. Of course, I don’t often need or have room for a case of most things, so I get together with friends and split cases (Facebook is incredibly helpful with this). Don’t be afraid to approach large supermarket chains and talk to their buyers. Our local Target sells kosher meat and chicken and our King Soopers (Colorado’s Kroger store) sells a ton of kosher goods. Last Thanksgiving, I told the manager at King Soopers that if he lowered the price per pound on the Empire turkey, I’d make sure to tell twenty of my friends about it. He did, I posted on Facebook and Twitter, as did all my friends, and he sold out the case. Communicate with your vendors.

Like any other kind of shopping for a special occasion, Passover shopping doesn’t have to stressful and doesn’t have to implode your food budget if you apply some of the common sense rules you use during the year to the process.

What are some of your Pesach money- and stress-saving tips?

***

Susie Sharf is a web designer and frugal blogger who hones her money-saving skills in Denver, Colorado.  You can profit from her experience by visiting her blog, Cheapskate.

If you can’t get enough of Susie’s helpful tips, she will be guest posting over at the wonderful Orthonomics – Coming soon! I’ll be sure to let you know when that post goes live as well.

Comments

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Comments

  1. If you’re in the market for a new big ticket kitchen item, perhaps wait until just before Pesach to buy it so it’ll be KlP for that year without any work.

    We’re finally buying a microwave and we’ll be getting it in the next couple weeks.

    In addition, for a holiday that lasts only a week, the grocery bill can be staggering. Keep a spreadsheet of your shopping list from one year to the next, make notes about what must be bought (and amounts) and what must NEVER be bought again.

    Comment in the spreadsheet how much you spent. Then for next year, start budgeting. We’ve been putting 500NIS away each of the past couple months so the 1500NIS grocery bill for Pesach won’t break us.

    • That’s a great idea, Devo, about the microwave (and setting aside the money). It reminds me of the year that we moved into our new apartment in Modi’in 3 days before Pesach. It sounds like it would have been stressful, but it was the easiest Pesach ever. We just cleaned the empty place like crazy, lined the shelves and unpacked our KLP dishes!

  2. We make our own lemon aide, iced tea, and I bought a brita instead of buying bottled water.
    I make my own shake n bake (if you eat gebroks), baked goods, and salad dressing , and even waffles!

  3. We don’t use any prepared products on Pesach aside from Wine and matzah (only hand made), nor do we use sugar so I’ve learned to be creative with the fruits and veggies. For example we’ll make a delicious fruit salad with cut up grapefruits, oranges, apples, pears, pineapple, walnuts and some grape juice and lemon juice.
    We’ll make banana ices by cutting a banana in half and rolling it in walnuts then rolling in alum foil and freezing, you can also stick a popsicle stick.
    You can blend different fruits and then freeze as ices.

  4. My family loves the frozen bananas. So easy, so yummy.

  5. Orthonomics says:

    Can’t wait to host more great tips. I especially like the social networking tips and working with local vendors!

  6. Thanks so much for this series. You’ve given me some really good strategies. I have been hesitant to invest in a food processor for Pesach but I think I will keep my eyes out for a well priced machine for this year or next. Thanks for the advice.

    • We bought one last year – a “cheapie” one (under $25, IIRC), and I wish we’d invested in a better one. It’s fine for a week, I guess, but gosh, is it loud. And slow!

  7. Go for it Rivki! I’d say that a food processor is a top priority for Pesach,right up there with aluminum foil :) it’ll make your life so much easier. I have a braun for Pesach and a cuisinart for year round, both are great machines.

  8. Rivki, GMTA, I’m going to be posting a nice deal for a food processor on Cheapskate early this afternoon.

  9. Orthonomics says:

    Post just went live!

  10. Thanks for all the advice – just set up a face book group for kosher info in our small city. Great idea!

  11. Hi, thanks for featuring Susie Sharf. The masterlist tip sounds simple but very convenient. My friends and I have been doing tip #7 for some time now. Instead of social media, we use an online tool called SplitStuff (http://splitstuff.com) to organize our group. We use this to coordinate a bulk purchase, share equipment, split the cost of services, bargain with suppliers, and etc. It’s pretty convenient although we still use facebook and twitter for other networking purposes.

  12. Annette, thanks for the tip to SplitStuff…will look at it. My friends and I are in the process of splitting cases of KLP items from a local retailer who has great prices but will only sell by the case. This might be a good organized way to reach out to people who are not on Facebook.

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