Like so many others, I try my best to stretch a dollar as far as it can possibly go. I look out for bargains, I haunt the clearance racks and I cut coupons religiously. But when it comes to Pesach, an old adage my father used to quote comes to mind and I can still hear his voice saying, “There is a time when a dollar is a penny and times when a penny is a dollar.” In simple English, that means that while we all do our best to save, save, save, there are times when you just have to bite the bullet and spend, spend, spend. It seems to me that when it comes to Pesach, when the work is plentiful and time is at a premium, it might just be the time to loosen up the purse strings a little and splurge on some well-chosen items because, while they might cost more, they will save you oodles of time. And if time is money, then saving time does save you money.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you run to the nearest supermarket and stock up on a week’s worth of prepared foods or the newest Pesach food item. (Frozen pancake batter, Pesach flatbreads, granola bars…seriously?) But some well-chosen purchases can be real timesavers and can simplify your life.
My number one favorite splurge for Pesach? Disposable plates. I confess, I do own one or two plates and bowls, but we pretty much use disposable for the entire Pesach. Years ago my mother-in-law begged me to take her Pesach dishes and while I was touched by the offer, I very politely refused. I still have very vivid memories of Pesach in my parents’ home, where after the men went to shul on the first Seder night, we would spend an hour taking down, washing and drying every single dish before we could set the table. I also remember my mother spending half the Seder in the kitchen washing dishes. Call me crazy, but I have zero interest in spending much of what is supposed to be a holiday that celebrates freedom washing endless dishes and, even with disposable plates, there are still plenty of pots and silverware that need to be cleaned. Disposables come in all varieties, from the not so pretty but economical, to truly gorgeous table settings that look real but are meant to be tossed. (For those of you who are seriously economy minded and wash those plates, I take my hat off to you, but even I don’t go that far.) Want to really spoil yourself for the Yom Tov meals? Get the disposable cutlery that looks like real silverware but is really just plastic in disguise. Use it, toss it and enjoy spending less time up to your elbows in soapy water.
Another ingenious item I am absolutely in love with? Non-iron dress shirts. While cotton-polyester blend shirts don’t need ironing, they just don’t have the rich look of all-cotton shirts. Unfortunately, keeping those 100% cotton shirts looking great is either costly (if you send them out to the cleaners) or time consuming (if you iron them yourself). I invested in one non-iron dress shirt for my son several years ago and while the cost, about five dollars more than the shirts I normally bought for him at the time, was a little intimidating, it was money well spent. My son wore that same shirt on Shabbos week after week and while it never came within ten feet of my iron, it always looked crisp and freshly pressed. Since then I have yet to buy him a single dress shirt that isn’t non-iron, because the amount of time they save me far outweighs the slightly higher price. Non-iron shirts can be found just about anywhere, from conventional stores to mail order companies and even Costco. Give them a try – you’ll be happy you did. Just a word of caution: never send a non-iron shirt to the dry cleaner or you will ruin the finish forever.