If there’s any holiday my family and I have dreaded shopping for, it’s Passover.
Why is grocery shopping for Passover such a big issue? Partly because, just to make sure our Passover foods, dishes, cookware, etc. are not contamminated by the least possible touch of anything that is forbidden over the holiday, everything we eat (except most fresh fruits and veggies) and everything we clean with must be pre-checked by someone highly trained in Passover dietary laws, sealed, and stamped with a sign that it’s OK to use on Passover. Partly because, just to make sure something originally good for Passover use was not contaminated by anything not good for Passover during the year, everything has to be purchased new. (It’s to some degree like shopping for your first apartment – all the staples, all the cleaning supplies, all the everything else that you can just go to the cabinet and grab to season your food, or to whip up something fresh at a moment’s notice. Repeat annually.) And partly because of the crapshoot called “finding everything you need at the supermarket”. It’s here that any attempt at budgeting for Passover flies out the window, perches on the neighbor’s roof long enough to stick out it’s tongue at you, and proceeds to impersonate you at the ATM machine en route south.
(Should I bother to mention that kosher-for-Passover certification has a significant effect upon the purchase price?)
Time, money, effort, and duplication of efforts. AND duplication of efforts.
You see, most supermarkets only get Passover-specific deliveries once each year from each vendor, and when that inventory sells out, consumers are out of luck. Some, who have a large Jewish clientele, may get a few extra deliveries… but if you plan on waiting until the last minute, everything will have sold out. So there is significant incentive to shop early and to purchase everything in sight that one might conceivably need for the entire holiday. Whether or not it’s on your shopping list. And to overbuy, so as not to fall short.
On top of that, vendor Passover deliveries are staggered, so you may not be able to find everything you need all at once – but you can’t be certain if the items you can’t find have not yet come in, or if they’ve already sold out.
Shop early, shop often, and give that budget birdie some nice departing gifts.
I just dropped about three weeks’ food budget on staples for Passover – half again over what I was expecting to spend. And I still haven’t purchased meat, milk, grape juice, or wine. That’s next week’s challenge. And another full week’s food budget.
I think that budget birdie is laughing at me as he feathers his nest egg in shredded Benjamins.
On the other hand, I did manage to secure a box of hard-to-find whole-wheat handmade shmurah matzohs. And a backup box of normal shmurah matzohs. And machine-made whole wheat matzohs. And machine made low-carb matzohs. And low-carb Passover yogurt. And so on…