And while the Susie Fishbein’s of the world may disagree with me, I would like to suggest that Pesach is one of those occasions when you want to keep things simple. Unless you have a Pesach kitchen, an army of sous chefs and a full cleaning crew, you have a minimum amount of time to do a maximum amount of cooking. Save the Braised Shallot Glazed Chicken Breasts with Pistachio-Cranberry Stuffing and the Cashew Meringue Chocolate Torte for some other time when your schedule affords you the opportunity to fuss with more elaborate meals. Stick with the basics: roasts, baked chicken, broiled fish, stir fries, roasted veggies and lots of salads. There is a time and place to show off your gourmet cooking skills and Pesach just isn’t it.
Keep your menus for the sedarim as simple as possible. Is anyone really hungry for a five-course meal at eleven o’clock at night after eating all that matza and marror? After years of having to put away an enormous amount of leftovers after the sedarim I have started scaling back dramatically and have found that everyone at the table is a lot happier since no one is really in the mood to eat and the Afikoman is still looming ahead for dessert.
When it comes to baking, look for recipes that are simple and easy. I try to avoid any cake recipes that call for separating eggs and I double the recipe for every cake (and kugel) that I make so that I can knock off twice as much cooking with minimal effort.
Other helpful Pesach tips? Either get yourself a notebook or boot up your home computer so that you can keep track of not only your Pesach menus, but what you bought and in what quantity. Not only will planning for Pesach next year be a little easier when you have that information at your fingertips, but you will save money by not overbuying at a time of year where everything seems to cost more than usual and your credit card balance is already running high.
Be sure to enlist help from the troops: hand one family member a broom, another a potato peeler and give a third one a dishtowel. There is absolutely no reason for you to be doing everything on your own. If they can help you eat the food, they can help you make it. Most importantly, try to keep a sense of humor and a positive attitude so that you can enjoy your Yom Tov as much as possible. While Pesach may be labor intensive, it is also a golden opportunity to savor not only some totally awesome potato kugel, but some truly special moments.
Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full scale productions. She can be contacted at email@example.com.