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.
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.