By Miriam Leibowitz, MHSc, RD
Plan your menu in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid impulse buys — do you really need that $30 jar of cashew butter?
Passover can be an expensive and stressful time. From wine and matzah to plastic goods and snacks for the kids, the cost of making Passover can get quite high. Here are some tips that may help save you some money and keep you healthy at the same time.
· Make a budget: Sit down and make a budget prior to Passover, keeping in mind seder meals and guests you will be hosting. Budgets are a good way to separate needs and wants. For example, do you need that $30 jar of cashew butter?
· Plan in advance: Write out your Passover meals and menu and stick to your grocery list when you shop. Avoid impulse buying as those items are most likely to be expensive. Many stores offer discount prices if you buy in larger quantities or ahead of time so look out for deals in local magazines and flyers.
· Don’t succumb to peer pressure: It’s easy to get caught up with all the fancy dishes your friends and neighbors may be making. You know your family and needs so stick with what you know works to minimize additional costs and stress.
· Keep it simple: Try to use basic ingredients like oil, salt, pepper and other spices. As well, many Kosher for Passover spices can be kept from the year before so no need to throw them out. Take stock of your pantry from the year before and see what can be used before you go out and buy new.
· Stay away from many processed foods that are Kosher for Passover (KFP) such as cookies, mixes and cakes: These foods tend to be quite expensive and high in fat, sugar and calories. When you can bake from scratch, it won’t break the budget and will be a lot healthier. Many KFP mixes are quite costly so stick to desserts that use ingredients that are not particularly for Passover, such as sorbets and meringues as these tend to be cheaper. Freezing in advance will also give you more time to cook your fresh foods the week before.
· Make your own home made cereal by crushing up matzah in milk instead of consuming processed cereals, it will be healthier an cheaper too. You can even add a little sugar to sweeten it if needed. (Gebrokst)
· Incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables in your meals: Luckily, the cost of these do not increase at Passover time and don’t require a Passover certification. Soups are filling, delicious, healthy and can also be made early and frozen. Choose vegetables like cauliflower as alternatives to potato kugels. Invest in a non-stick fry pan and sauté fresh vegetables, purchase a salad spinner or grill vegetables in your oven with a little, salt, pepper and oil to eat light and healthy.
· Become familiar with and refer to the COR Passover Guide for items that do not require any special kosher certification such as some oils, nuts and, sugars. Frozen fish is a good option and when you can buy it at a place like Costco it keeps costs down. Frozen fish does require a certification but as stated in the COR Pesach magazine the following brands are acceptable without a special Passover certification:
A) Kirkland Atlantic (Farm Raised) Salmon when bearing the OU symbol;
B) Kirkland Wild Frozen Salmon only after rinsing it off (OU);
C) Olivia Atlantic Frozen Salmon with the KF certification;
· Some stores will put out some “special” KFP products for a higher price but these products are actually kosher for Passover all year round. A good example of this is Redpath sugar which has a COR-P which means it is kosher for Passover and it shouldn’t be any more expensive. Orange juice is another item that is usually imported from the US and can be expensive. However, frozen concentrate Grade A 100% pure Orange Juice, which contains lots of Vitamin C and has no additives or enrichments can be a more economical option and it can be purchased without a Passover certification.
· Finally, learn from what worked the year before: Keep track of what you made, what people liked and what didn’t go over well. Did you order too much matzah? Not enough wine? Did you run out of eggs or yogurt? Work off a list and save that for the following year.
Wishing you and your families a happy and healthier Passover!
Miriam Leibowitz is a Registered Dietitian in Toronto who runs a private nutrition counseling practice. She has an office in the Bathurst & Glencairn area and also does home visits. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-937-7411 to book an appointment. Most extended health care plans cover the services of a Registered Dietitian.