My husband I got married two weeks before Pesach, so that first year we were guests. After that, we’ve been making Pesach ever since. As the COO of Jew in the City, part of my job is being organized, having a plan and executing it, which is really the key to making Pesach. While the cleaning, cooking and preparing is a lot of work, I’ve learned some tips and tricks over the years that I hope will be helpful whether you are making Pesach for the first time or you are a seasoned pro!
There are some people fortunate enough to have a separate kitchen just for Pesach so that they can start cooking weeks ahead and stock their freezer. I also have a Pesach kitchen. It’s a corner of my basement set up with a table, my instant pot, my knives, Pesach spices (which I save from year to year) and cookbooks. You can also use a crockpot. Make soups, roasts, gefilte fish, and any recipe that cooks in an instapot or crockpot and freezes well. Then, as you get closer to the sederim you can just worry about salads and baked goods.
One of the most physically challenging parts of turning over your kitchen is moving out your non-Pesach dishes to make room for your Pesach dishes. When turning over your kitchen, use your dishwasher for storage of your non-Pesadik dishes to save on trips up and down (I store whatever doesn’t fit in my dishwasher in an extra closet in my basement). You can fill it to the brim since you aren’t actually running it.
It would cost a fortune to outfit your entire kitchen for Pesach in one go, so I started out the first year with inexpensive items to just get me through and then slowly replaced them over the years. One year I bought a good mixer. Another year I bought a great set of knives (which stay super sharp since they are only used one week a year). A bought Pesach china one year, and a food processor another. After 13 years, I’m pretty well stocked. Also a great idea is to keep an inventory of what you have and after Pesach, think about what was missing and what next year’s big purchase will be.
This is a great tip for throughout the year so that you have less dishes to wash, but I find it especially helpful when serving lots of meals and being able to get things to the table quick. Some glassware even comes with lids that fit so you can store leftovers in the fridge after the meal too, all in one convenient package.
Everyone is always scrounging around for food the afternoon before the first seder since many foods are not allowed. Hotdogs, hamburgers, pickles and fries are all allowed, and everyone is excited to eat them. You can whip this pre-seder BBQ up without too much effort and have less food-induced anger by the time the seder rolls around.
Save your menu and shopping lists on your computer, iCloud, Google Drive or somewhere safe and reuse it every year. Have certain special things that you only make on Pesach – I have a great lemon square recipe that my kids always look forward to and I only make it on Pesach. This way, even if I make the same menu from year-to-year, no one gets bored.