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In the course of my work - I'm a synagogue administrator and Hebrew-school principal - I have a lot of opportunity to hear from people about how expensive Passover is. Some of them are just complaining for the fun of it; others are offering a justification for not observing it as fully as they think I think they should.

But the truth is that Passover doesn't have to be as expensive as that. True, there is some extra cost in a seder meal. That's because you're likely to spend more for any festive meal, and especially because of the wine. But you can exert some control over the seder menu, and the extras that you need specifically for a seder (karpas, maror, zeroa - greens, bitter herbs, and a shankbone - and the fruit, nuts, spice, and a bit of wine for charoset) aren't very expensive by themselves.

What is expensive is buying special Passover foods. Matzah itself is cheap, and, except for the requirements of the seder, matzah is the only special food that you really need for Passover. In some cities, chain groceries will give you 5 pounds of matzah free with a sufficient purchase.

Where I live, no store has a free matzah offer, but today it was possible to buy 5 pounds of matzah from Israel for 99 cents to $1.29, using store specials and a coupon from the newspaper. Manischewitz matzah would have been $3.99 for 5 pounds; if you buy Manischewitz products throughout the year, this could be a better value because of the coupons on the boxes.

If you want whole-wheat matzah or another special kind, it will cost more, but it's still not the price of matzah that ruins your budget.

The foods to avoid are the special Passover versions of regular food, such as kosher-for-Passover noodles, pizza mix, cake mixes, and so forth. Most of them aren't very good, and they're very expensive for what they are. Beware of Passsover breakfast cereal: it all tastes like matzah, so you might as well eat some of those 5 pounds of matzah. Skip the kosher-for-Passover mustard; it's basically library paste with mustard flavoring. Use horseradish instead.

But what else are you going to eat? Instead of using a lot of analogues of regular food, plan menus that are naturally kosher for Passover. While you're buying those 5 pounds of matzah, buy 5 pounds of potatoes, or 10, and serve potatoes instead of pasta or rice (if your observance doesn't allow rice).

Essentially, aim for simple cooking using fresh ingredients as much as possible.

Now, desserts could require some effort, if your household expects anything other than fresh fruit. This week many stores have deals on macaroons at 99 cents/can, but how many macaroons do you want?

Nevertheless, the Passover cake mixes are barely satisfactory, and they make small cakes. For the price of one box of cake mix, you could buy both matzah cake meal and potato starch, enough to make any number of full-size cakes. Either way it will require a lot of eggs, but fortunately eggs are always on special right before Passover (because suppliers and stores manipulate the supply for Easter). So, if baked goods figure in your plans, it is worthwhile to buy the basic ingredients and invest some time in home baking.

For other special foods, all of which are optional, careful shopping can save some money. One chain store here has Manischewitz gefilte fish for $2.99/jar this week, and there was a $1.50 coupon in the newspaper. The coupon wasn't supposed to be doubled, but the store doubled $1 of it, so the net cost was 49 cents.

One thing you may find hard to obtain, depending where you live, is a kosher shankbone. Kosher butchers save them starting months in advance, but in smaller cities they may be unobtainable. This is one place where vegetarians have an advantage, because the traditional vegetarian substitute is a roasted beet. I am not vegetarian, but at my house we use a sweet potato, otherwise known as the Paschal yam.
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You gained that rec for the "Paschal yam"...as to "how many macaroons do you want", to quote Woody Allen, sit, have a nice glass tea, we'll talk...

Sadie Killmouski
Macaroon Junkie...now they come in flavors, yet
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"Paschal yam" isn't original. I think that the credit goes to Arthur Waskow.

Macaroons... now that we have "irritainment" to denote a media spectacle that is irritating but which you find yourself unable to stop watching, we need a term for food that you can't stop eating even though you don't really like it.
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Macaroon Junkie...now they come in flavors, yet.

A girl of my own heart. I love macaroons.

If only they could figure out how to leave out the transfats. I don't mind the rest of the bad stuff nearly so much.

partially hydrogenated ----- oil -- AAGGHH, it's everywhere. Go away, go away, go away. Bad, bad, bad.

<Sigh> There's nothing fun left to eat.

Shicali
(sometimes organic lettuce just doesn't hit the spot)
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but at my house we use a sweet potato, otherwise known as the Paschal yam

ba-dum *ching*

I like it!
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Passover! I forgot!! I'm christian, but my best guy friend is jewish. He's staying with me for a month and I'd like to make the house jewish friendly. Anyone have any tips on the history of passover, what food is okay to eat, whats not, etc? Maybe a link or two?

Thanks!
angela
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Passover! I forgot!! I'm christian, but my best guy friend is jewish. He's staying with me for a month and I'd like to make the house jewish friendly. Anyone have any tips on the history of passover, what food is okay to eat, whats not, etc? Maybe a link or two?

If he's really observant, he won't eat at your house at all anyway.

If he's not super observant, serve everything on paper plates with plastic cutlery fresh out of the package. No bread, no grains, depending on his observance, no beans or rice.

Use Matsoh that has been certified Kosher for Passover for this year. (Last year's won't do.)

Other than that, fresh whole foods would be the best. Hard boiled or roasted eggs are traditional. A nice roast or leg of lamb or chicken would be fine plus fresh steamed vegetables. Most desserts aren't kosher for Passover, but you might find some macaroons or jelly candies in the Passover section of your grocery store.

HTH,
Jo Anne
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The foods to avoid are the special Passover versions of regular food, such as kosher-for-Passover noodles, pizza mix, cake mixes, and so forth. Most of them aren't very good,

You are soooo right about that!

Nero
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Angela,

I forgot you asked for a link.

http://www.ou.org/chagim/pesach/pesachguide/maze/basic7.htm

Jo Anne
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TchrP,
Excellent post. What you say is very valid.

However there is an additional cost to Passover that you didn't refer to.
If you really clean out your freezer, fridge and pantry of all non-Passover foods (frozen dinners, waffles, bread, flour, pasta, cookies, crackers, and the like) and then replenish your supplies afterwards, you have certainly spent a bunch of money.

Of course this doesn't apply if you merely move them to the garage or something :-)

Best wishes,
-gs

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an additional cost to Passover that you didn't refer to.
If you really clean out your freezer, fridge and pantry of all non-Passover foods (frozen dinners, waffles, bread, flour, pasta, cookies, crackers, and the like) and then replenish your supplies afterwards, you have certainly spent a bunch of money.


Many people manage to run out of Passover foods, or nearly so, which limits the loss. Where this collides with some LBYM strategies is if you customarily stockpile large amounts of these foods and have too much to use up.

But there is a customary loophole, which is to have a rabbi sell all your hametz (food that won't be permitted during Passover) to a non-Jew, and then buy it back for you after Passover. To some people this doesn't seem as pure or legitimate as disposing of everything, but it has been accepted for centuries in order to prevent hardship.
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You've just managed to make me very homesick. I always got to open the door for Elijah since I was the youngest. <sigh>

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I always got to open the door for Elijah since I was the youngest. <sigh>


I was the only child of parents who were both the youngest in large families. I was still asking the Four Questions when I was 20-something.

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I'd almost forgotten about the Four Questions. Thanks for the smile. :)
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Sorry to ask, but as a member of the Noah (and Christ) covenant I must ask: "what are the four questions?"

Thanks!
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Here's a link to a site about it:

http://www.kosher4passover.com/4questions.htm
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Thank you!

That also answered a question I had from the movie "The Passion" where Mary asks the first question. I had no idea where that came from. so much to learn and so little time...
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The Four Questions are part of the seder, the ceremonial meal that takes place on the first (and possibly second) night of Passover. According to tradition, they are always asked by the youngest child who is able to recite them.

The purpose of them, I would say, is to encourage children to pay attention and participate. The substance of the questions deals with the difference between practices at the seder and those of "all other nights," so logically they should come at the end of the entire seder, after the child has had an opportunity to observe the differences. But actually they come almost at the beginning, probably to ensure that the child is still awake.

The link already posted gives the text of the standard questions. I stay "standard" because it would be legitimate to ask any number of other questions about the procedure and interpretation, and in a sense the ritualized questions printed in the haggadah are just the springboard to that.

Also, in some families only one question is asked, although it is asked four times: "When do we eat?"
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Oh thanks for the link.

I enjoyed listening!

Cheers,
-gs

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Sadie,
My macaroon recipe, in case you want to make some. They are very easy.

6 cups shredded coconut (I like medium unsweetened but it's hard to find)
1 15-oz can of sweetened condensed milk (this is an old recipe. 14 oz will work.)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix ingredients. Drop from a teaspoon onto well-greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate over (350o) 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly; remove to rack. Makes 4 dozen.


Vickifool
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A girl of my own heart. I love macaroons.

If only they could figure out how to leave out the transfats. I don't mind the rest of the bad stuff nearly so much.


Shicali,
check out my recipe. The only bad fats are the ones that are actually in the coconut!

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=20566928

Vickifool

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check out my recipe. The only bad fats are the ones that are actually in the coconut!

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Vicki. Certainly does sound easy enough (and good!). I think I'll make some.

Shicali
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