Reader Q&A: Stockpiling Chametz & Pesach

question 300x300 Reader Q&A: Stockpiling Chametz & PesachWe’re all about Purim in our house these days, but I’m not in complete denial that Pesach is indeed coming. So, I thought this question in the comments section last week was especially apt.

It was submitted by “Annonymous”, but I’m guessing that Anon isn’t the only one wondering about how to balance the pull of stockpiling deals at rock bottom prices with the push of the impending de-chametzification of our homes.

What do you do about Pesach and cereal? I started reading your blog recently and learning about stockpiling, but when I came home with a bunch of cereal from Target the other day, my husband made a comment about Pesach coming. (Even tho’ we do sell our chametz, he doesn’t want to purposely buy stuff we know we’ll have after Pesach.)

Do you use up your cereal & other chametz, or continue to stockpile when there are good sales and just sell it all?

I’m learning so much here! Thanks!

So, first of all, in case you are reading this and see the word “stockpiling” and immediately get turned off by images of Y2K-underground-storage-bunkers, let me put your mind at ease.

To me stockpiling means, simply, buying the products my family uses regularly when they are at rock bottom prices. And, even better, when I have a coupon to allow me to save even more.

How much do I buy when I’m “stockpiling”? Well, that depends on a number of factors:

  • Does the item expire? If so, I’m obviously not going to stockpile more than we can use — or donate — before the expiration date.
  • When do I think the next sale will be? Most products have a 12-week sale cycle. That means about once every 3 months, they will hit their rock bottom price. So, in a pinch, I can assume that a 12-week supply is an adequate “stockpile”.

For more on my thoughts about stockpiling, you may want to read these posts (if you haven’t already):

The Stocking Up Principle: How to Cut Your Grocery Budget in Half

Stocking Up Is Not the Same as Hoarding

How Stocking Up Lets You Give More Generously

The Stock Up Principle & Birthday Gifts

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me also say that every family has different customs when it comes to selling chametz.

For our family, we feel comfortable with selling our chametz, and will probably designate the basement storage room for all the non-perishable chametz stuff. That’s where our freezer resides, so that will be all chametz as well.

While we do sell our chametz, I nonetheless try to avoid buying more cereal, pasta, etc. than we can use before Pesach. I’ve got 14 boxes of cereal still stockpiled in my basement, for example, so I probably won’t be buying anymore. If it’s a real family favorite, I might get a few boxes — if I’m fairly certain we will eat them before Passover.

In my week of crazy Pesach cleaning, I like to go through the stockpile and weed out anything that has been sitting for a while. This is a great time to make donations to food banks – and so many are in great need.

Since I’ve been shopping like this for a while now, I’ve got the beauty of perspective: I know that the deals will come back. So spring cleaning isn’t much of a financial risk. I know BBQ sauce will be free again this summer, so I can “afford” to part with the three bottles left from last summer’s sales.

As long as I’m waxing on about Pesach and stockpiling, I will confess to you all that I did a little experiment last year. I stockpiled matzah.

Yeah, I know.

But it was really cheap. I hit up one of our local grocery stores the day after Pesach and found a grocery cart filled with 1-pound boxes of matzah for $.50 each! That is crazy cheap. I checked the expiration date (who knew matzah could last so long?!) and bought 10 pounds.

I figured even if it tastes horrible, at $5, I’m not out too much. And if it tastes “normal” (I’m not sure if I’d say that matzah tastes “good”… But maybe that’s just me), then I saved myself $35!

I’ll be sure to report back in during Pesach about the success — or failure — of my stockpiling experiment.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you and your family deal with stocking up on chametz in the weeks before Pesach. And has anyone ever bought matzah – or other Pesach products – at the end of one yom tov to use for the next year?

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. I go the morning after pesach ends to two select stores to buy out their pesach stuff. Last year I got cheese for $1.50 and cereal for $1 a box. I also through out the year get items that I know are kosher for pesach and put them away. (like frozen orange juice concentrate)

  2. I have saved vegetable oil, matzah meal, and soup mix from one Pesach to the next– no problems with either. We buy the super cheap post-Pesach matzah and keep it around for lechem mishnah during the year. The box we just opened tastes exactly the same as it did last year, so I am sure that your stash will be fine.

  3. We haven’t bought post passover but we have saved the dry mixes, spices and oils from year to year. We always label everything with a year so we know what year they are from.

    In terms of Chametz, we follow the Purim dividing line. Before Purim, you can buy whatever. After Purim, you only buy what you use up.

  4. 2 years ago I bought Matza the day after Pesach and had it for last year and it was fine! (like you said-”I’m not sure if I’d say that matzah tastes “good”… )
    I stored it in ziploc vacuum pack bags you get for storing clothing and protecting it from anything .
    No one knew the difference and especially for “cooking” or mixing into eggs or soup it was absolutely no different – I did it again last year for this year. Hope it will be just as successful.
    It may depend on the kind of matza , brand and how its packaged but for me its been a major saving and a success

    I also saved other things like oil and salt etc that were fine too
    hope it is for you too:)

    Daniela
    http://isreview1.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for reminding me, you guys. We definitely save spices from year to year. Although never oil – as I’ve heard that can go rancid. I’d check Dr. Google on that one.

  5. There are some foods that were born stale, and matzah is one of them! You can definitely hold on to matzah for one year with no taste difference, but I wouldn’t hold on to it for more than that. Unopened maztah meal can survive in the back of the freezer for two or three years. Don’t use old oil! Oil really does trap bacteria…use that up or toss it. And besides, extra-virgin olive oil does not need a special KLP hechsher, so you can just pick that up at Costco, same price as year-round…don’t throw away money on that awful cottonseed or walnut stuff (which is not good for you anyway). Spices are fine to stockpile from year to year, though they will lose some of their potency if they are open for more than two years…close them very tightly at the end of Pesach. Do not stockpile cake mixes (or any other mixes), no matter how cheap they are post-YomTov. They will DEFINITELY taste stale and smell funny, especially if they are the potato starch based kind.

    • LOL @ “born stale”. So true!

      You’re a wealth of info, thanks Susie. So cake meal in a can you also wouldn’t save? I have no idea what that’s made out of, but it was a quarter, so I bought it.

      • Cake meal is fine…it’s really just flour..it’s like very finely ground matzoh meal. I’d keep it in the back of the freezer if you’re going to save it for more than one year. I’ve got 6 cannisters of cake meal from last year…it’s a staple here for making desserts. You beat me though; mine was 40 cents each. This year’s cake meal is going for $4.99/cannister.

        • Walnut oil is absolutely healthy and lovely. Full of good fats. No reason to group it with cottonseed oil, which is problematic largely because of cotton being one of (or the?) most pesticide-laden plants in the US. But it’s really made for flavoring, not cooking. It doesn’t do well exposed to high temps and it goes rancid more quickly than other oils. Doesn’t mean you should avoid it, just means you should buy quality stuff and not store it from year to year. I store mine in the fridge, which extends its life and avoids such quick rancidity.

          • also, as a friend of mine pointed out, another issue with cottonseed oil is that it is NOT INTENDED TO BE FOOD. Who eats cotton????

  6. OMT: while our minhag is not to sell edible chametz gamur (out-and-out chametz, like bread, cookies, pasta) for Pesach, many cereals are corn- or rice-based and, while you wouldn’t eat them on Pesach and you would definitely put them away with the chametz, they are not actual chametz, so nothing wrong with continuing to accumulate them (but check the ingredients if your minhag is similar to ours). Same thing with stuff like barbecue sauce, which probably has some sort of corn sweetener based stuff in it….it’s kitniyos, which is fine to have around on Pesach (but just don’t eat it!).

  7. I just checked the dates on my oils… all 12/2011. Think they can still go rancid? That is a good thing to know!!

    • All oils can go rancid. Period. No matter whether they are before the expiration date. It has to do with how they are stored – Translucent or opaque container? Exposed to heat in shipping, storage, etc? Stored next to your stove at home, or near a window? Refrigerated or not? So on and so forth.

      -Food safety nerd & nutrition professional ;-p

  8. We also stockpile year to year–matzah meal, spices, cake meal, matzah, farfel, and jars\cans (mostly tomato sauce), maybe a few other things. I try to remember to write the year on the side with a sharpie, so that i know what stuff to use first, and to chuck it when it gets too old. The hard part when we lived somewhere hard to buy stuff was not to overbuy anyway, since we had to do all our shopping weeks in advance, and would be stuck if we ran out.
    I usually take a written inventory with shopping, and try to mark how much we use each year, although things do change year to year (different guests, kids get into diff things, etc.)

    Great idea, Mara, to use pre-Pesach to winnow down the stockpile and donate!!!

  9. We stockpile soup mix (because it’s easy to find gluten-free ones), gluten-free non-grebrokts baking mixes (though they’re so high-glycemic I’m giving up on that this year) which are fine for quite a while after purchasing but they never make it til the following Pesach, gluten-free treats that are worth it (most aren’t), ketchup (no high-fructose corn syrup! awesome!), and some frozen stuff that’s for year-round consumption… such as those tapioca cheese balls, gluten-free blintzes, etc. BTW, potato starch is just fine stored for a long time, as are mixes based in potato starch. It’s a staple of gluten-free baking and is very low in moisture and contains no significant oils so it’s unlikely to go rancid or get infested if stored properly. I have had my potato starch for way over a year and it’s as good as the day it was purchased.

    We use salt and spices from one year to the next, but not dried herbs. I would prefer not to save even spices because their flavor is compromised, but it’s too darn expensive to repurchase every year and for just one week I can handle my ground black pepper being a little mild and so forth.

  10. Stockpiling (machine) matzah was the BEST idea we ever had! (Actually, I was out of town… it was my HUSBAND’s idea!) Anyway, it may be the brand we bought, but the matzah is just as crisp and crunchy as ever! It tastes very fresh. Hand matzah, on the other hand, will go stale pretty quickly. It’s kind of sad that we are down to our last post-Pesach 2010 box. But, there’s always this year to do it again!

  11. rabbis generally frown on using matza from a year earlier since it can go “chametzy” over that period of time due to moisture. generally many supermarkets will offer free machine made matza if you buy X amt of food.

  12. Alyssa, that would only be a halachic issue if you don’t eat gebrokts. If you eat gebrokts, you mix matzoh with water anyway, so even if the matzoh from the previous year somehow was dampened, it wouldn’t be an issue.

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