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?
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, March 28: Read this column, take a deep breath and know that you’ll be ready when the time comes. You have more than two weeks, which is way more time than the Israelites had to prepare.
Tuesday, March 29: Check your out-of-season coats and all of your bags. Remove any chametz lurking in pockets or deep recesses, including any wet hamenstaschen crumbs that may have gotten stuck during this year’s rainy Purim.
Wednesday, March 30: Check bedrooms, basements and other places that food probably shouldn’t be but might be hiding anyway.
Thursday, March 31: 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.
Friday, April 1: Plan your Shabbat menu to maximize getting rid of chametz. Think pasta, challah, cookies, cake, etc. It’s carb-loading time.
Saturday, April 2: Shabbat shalom! Eat the chametz. Share it with friends.
Sunday, April 3: Clean off at least one shelf of your fridge to make room for what you’re about to buy, then go grocery shopping. This is the time to get all the Pesach-specific pantry and fridge items. Keep the cold stuff in bags on that one clean shelf.
Monday, April 4: 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, April 5: Think about what other meals you may want to host during the holiday besides seder and invite guests as needed.
Wednesday, April 6: Make sure you have a plan for selling your chametz, and complete any paperwork.
Thursday, April 7: Set up a grocery delivery order for Wednesday or Thursday to get all remaining dairy, produce and eggs.
Friday, April 8: 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.
Saturday, April 9: Shabbat shalom!
Sunday, April 10: 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.
Monday, April 11: Make a plan for what you and your household will eat for the rest of the week that doesn’t involve your oven. 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.
Tuesday, April 12: Vacuum couches and carpets. Pick one designated place in your house where chametz is still allowed.
Wednesday, April 13: Today and tomorrow are for serious cleaning. 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 yours and run it on a hot, empty cycle.
Thursday, April 14: 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. Do bedikat chametz (ceremonial search for chametz) after dark.
Friday, April 15: 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 and Shabbat shalom!
Saturday, April 16: Second seder. Highly recommend leftovers for lunch.
Sunday, April 17: You’re on your own for the rest of the holiday, but save this plan for next year. Enjoy!