Everyone is going to be shopping and filling shopping carts to overflowing, this week and next -- people always seem to go a little overboard before a chag!
And since Pesach is notoriously expensive to begin with (matzah costs a lot of money, not to mention wine and grape juice!), I figured I would share a few tips I've learned over the last several years in order to cut back the expenses.
First things first:
Carefully check your freezer and pantry for food items that are Kosher for Pesach, so you don't have to run out and buy a duplicate of something you already have!
I went thru my stash this week, and discovered a shelf's worth of food from my pantry that I can use over Pesach! In addition, I have chicken, salmon, and frozen spinach in my freezer that are all fine for Pesach.
Secondly, try not to overbuy the expensive extras. If you use shmurah matzah for seder, but regular matzah the rest of the time - try to only buy as much shmurah matzah as you will actually need for seder! (This one is hard for me to stick to! I get a little anxious that we won't have enough - but I'm working on it)
Next, focus on buying "regular" foods - the special Pesach products are always very pricey. Most of us can get by without all those pricey extras. If we eat cookies on Pesach, they are made from scratch. If you can avoid buying kilos of ground nuts for baking, your wallet will thank you. No one ever was deprived on Pesach because they didn't eat a very expensive almond-flour cake or cookie, trust me. And yes, there are no-nut or low-nut alternative recipes! (I buy ground or shredded coconut, as it's a lot less expensive than other ground nuts, and also has the distinct advantage that I'm not allergic to it!)
Find the least expensive oil you are willing to use. There's very little reason to buy expensive walnut oil, especially here in Israel where you should be able to find less expensive alternatives. (Many people use canola oil for Pesach. While I don't like canola oil, I am searching out my best option and will not buy palm or walnut oil.)
Plan to fill up mostly on fresh fruits and vegetables! Not only will they save you money, they will do your body good!
If you eat peanuts on Pesach, go for it and buy Peanut Butter! Not only can you make great desserts with it, but it also helps round out a snack with some easy protein (and if you don't eat peanuts on Pesach, be sure you have a good food processor and make your own nut butter! My family is partial to cashew butter.).
If you, like us, do not eat kitniyot on Pesach, don't despair! You can still eat less expensive meals with careful planning. It will likely cost you more per mouth than during the rest of the year, but really - it doesn't have to be insane. I hope to post some sample menus over the next week.
We DO buy lots of eggs, though, but, per egg, they aren't so expensive. Buying 3 trays or so at a time does add up though - but it's still less per serving than some other foods!
I'm not really interested in opening a whole halachic discussion here, but I do think it's worthwhile for everyone to do some more research about which foods they can use on Pesach. It may be that the options are wider and less expensive than you thought. (And maybe not, this will vary from community to community...)
Please let me know what your favorite way to cut back Pesach expenses is! I'd love to hear!