Pesach on a budget! Planning your Pesach Menu for Seder Night
Each year after Purim - and often even before - everyone (OK, usually the women…) switches to panic mode regarding preparations for the upcoming Pesach holiday. It’s not as if it’s the first time it’s happened! Each year it comes around and the same panic and tension permeate every Jewish home around the world.
One major aspect of pre-Pesach panic is meal-planning and the high costs involved. Just preparing items for the Seder – wine/grape juice, matzot (not even talking about hand Shmura matzot), and various Seder plate items – is an additional expense, and then we have to deal with the holiday meals, usually involving a larger number of guests than on regular Shabbatot.
While catering may be the way to go to make things easier for the Pesach host and hostess (more on that below), here are a couple of suggested menus for those do-it-yourselfers among you, or those who are carefully trying to balance their Aliyah budget, two menus for 6-8 people, one for carnivores, the other for vegetarians, each under 500 NIS.
|Chicken soup with kneidelach||Using chicken wings, a few aromatic vegetables and instant kneidel mixture, this course should cost around 40 shekels|
|Fresh carrot salad with pineapple & raisins||Canned pineapple pieces are much cheaper than fresh. The estimated cost of this salad is 15 shekels|
|Green salad with dressing||10 shekels for the green salad. Ready made salad dressing 10 shekels or make your own vinaigrette for less than 5 shekels|
|Whole roast chicken||50 shekels for a 2kg fowl. Just before the Chag, some large supermarket chains discount whole chickens to 10 shekels/kg. If you can hold out till then, your cost here could be half.|
|Cooked broccoli or cauliflower
||The current market price of cauliflower is around 5 shekels/kg and broccoli is in the region of 10|
|Roasted or pan-fried potatoes & onions or potato kugel||The price of potatoes usually goes up before Pesach. Never going beyond 5 shekels per kg, these dishes will cost between 10 and 15 shekels|
|Baked apples or apple cobbler||Pink Lady are the tastiest but are more expensive. Dark green Granny Smiths give an excellent result at half the price.|
|Brownies||Brownies, whether for Pesach or not, can be a bit pricey to make especially if you use real top-quality chocolate instead of cocoa and selected nuts. Use good ingredients for a great result. Brownies can cost anywhere between 20 - 40 shekels for a suitable quantity to make on your own. You can buy very tasty KLP brownies in the supermarket, made by one of the large Israeli food companies. Pour over melted chocolate and your guests will think they are home-made.
Chef's Tip: Hard-boiled eggs are part of the Seder Plate. Eggs are inexpensive and an excellent source of protein. A bowl of hard-boiled egg and salt water, before the soup is economical, filling and in keeping with Jewish tradition.
|Vegetable or orange soup.
||A huge pot of vegetable soup is filling as well as delicious. 40 shekels for this course, and you'll have left-over for the next day as well.|
|Fresh carrot salad with pineapple & raisins||As in the first menu|
|Green salad with dressing||As in the first menu too|
|Broiled salmon or baked/steamed sea bass (labrac) or other fish||Splurge here for good quality fish. Fresh is always best. Fresh salmon is around 90 shekels/kg but frozen is less.|
|Cooked broccoli or cauliflower||As in the first menu|
|Roasted or pan-fried potatoes & onions or potato kugel||As in the first menu|
|Baked apples or apple cobbler||As in the first menu|
|Brownies||As in the first menu|
Money saving tip: The earlier you buy your meat and fish, the lower the prices, as they automatically go up closer to the holiday. The same is true for fresh fruit and vegetables, even in the shuk.
Kosher for Passover food items are available in supermarkets even before Rosh Chodesh Nissan so plan early, plan wisely and save money.