Can you help me plan the time between now and Passover so I don’t get really stressed out and panic in the three days before the holiday?
Need a plan
The weeks immediately following Purim are known, colloquially, as Passover freak-out time. Sure, this rhythm of the year makes sense and may even bring with it a sense of comfort for some, but it can also be extremely anxiety-provoking. With the right amount of planning, though, it really is possible to sail through this month with your sanity intact and still show up at seder ready to go.
What follows is a day-by-day plan for getting your house ready for Passover, especially if you are someone who “turns over” your whole kitchen, as in, getting rid of all chametz (leavened foods) and cleaning everything thoroughly. However, even if that’s not your practice, you may still find this useful as a spring cleaning plan, or as a general Passover preparedness plan. (But please note: Passover cleaning is NOT the same as spring cleaning, and you really don’t need to tackle parts of your house that don’t involve food!)
This is not a spiritual guide by any stretch unless you find cleaning to be a holy act, but with everything mapped out, you’ll hopefully have more brain space available to reflect on the themes of the holiday and how to be emotionally, as well as physically, prepared.
Today, Thursday, March 23: Read this column, take a deep breath and know that you’ll be ready when the time comes. You have just shy of two weeks, which is way more time than the Israelites had to prepare.
Friday, March 24: Plan your Shabbat menu to maximize getting rid of chametz. Think pasta, challah, cookies, cake, etc. It’s carb-loading time. Clear off at least one shelf in your cabinet and one in your fridge in preparation for shopping.
Saturday, March 25: Shabbat shalom! Eat the chametz. Share it with friends.
Sunday, March 26: This is kind of a big day, I’m not gonna lie. Finalize your seder plans, whether that means inviting people to your home or knowing where you’re going. Check in with hosts/guests about timing and what to bring. If possible, also make your meal plan for the entire week of Passover. Depending on the above, make your grocery shopping list and get yourself to the store for Pesach-specific pantry and fridge items. Keep the cold stuff in bags on that one clean shelf.
Monday, March 27: It’s actually fine if you don’t do anything today. Mondays are hard enough without totally rearranging your house, too. But one day this week, be sure to clean and vacuum your car. Especially if you have kids. I’m looking at you, Cheerios.
Tuesday, March 28: Check your out-of-season coats and all of your bags. Remove any chametz lurking in pockets or deep recesses, including any hamenstaschen crumbs that may have stuck around. This is also a good day to check bedrooms, basements and other places that food probably shouldn’t be but might be hiding anyway.
Wednesday, March 29: Think about what other meals you may want to host during the holiday besides seder and invite guests as needed.
Thursday, March 30: Make sure you have a plan for selling your chametz, and complete any paperwork. Set up a grocery delivery order for Tuesday of next week to get all remaining dairy, produce, and egg products.
Friday, March 31: Any challah in the freezer? Use it up. Plan for an easy, chametz-filled Shabbat dinner. Try your best to keep the challah crumbs contained. Eat outside if possible or pick one designated place in your house where chametz is still allowed.
Saturday, April 1: Shabbat shalom!
Sunday, April 2: Today is for serious cleaning. Clean the rest of the fridge and your kitchen cabinets. Put any remaining non-Pesach food on a designated shelf or two and line the other shelves so they’re ready for the Pesach foods. Vacuum couches and carpets. Move all small countertop appliances to the basement or wherever they get stored. Empty the crumbs out of your toaster before you carry it anywhere. Then scrub those counters, floors, inside and behind the kitchen trash can (gross, but trust me, it’s worth it), microwave and stovetop. Depending on your observance level, be prepared to boil a lot of water. Wear shoes before pouring boiling water on anything! Plan to eat dinner outside. While dishwashers can be a controversial topic, if you plan to use yours during Passover, clean any visible dirt then run it on a hot, empty cycle.
Monday, April 3: Make a plan for what you and your household will eat today and tomorrow that doesn’t involve any appliances. Set your oven to self-clean or set your arms to “serious elbow grease” and get that oven done. Do NOT leave the house during the self-cleaning cycle, as oven-cleaning can pose a fire hazard. Do open your windows, though, as it can get hot and stinky and, if your smoke detector is sensitive enough, it can also get very loud.
Tuesday, April 4: Close up cabinets you won’t be using. Clean and kasher your kitchen sink. Bring Passover dishes out of storage. Cover any surfaces with foil or liners according to your custom, and get the kitchen in working order for the holiday. If you’re hosting seder, start cooking if you feel up for it, or make a timeline for tomorrow’s cooking extravaganza. Do bedikat chametz (ceremonial search for chametz) after dark.
Wednesday, April 5: If you’re not taking part in the fast of the firstborn, make sure you know what you’re eating today leading up to the seder. Many people have the tradition not to eat chametz or matzah the day before seder, so today is a great time to eat fruits and veggies, yogurt, and eggs while cooking or otherwise prepping for the first seder, which is tonight. Many people also burn chametz in the morning as a final ritual for ridding your home of leavened goods. Chag sameach!
Thursday, April 6: Second seder. Highly recommend leftovers for lunch.
Sunday, April 7: You’re on your own for the rest of the holiday, but save this plan for next year. Enjoy!