Is this your first time making Pesach? Keep reading…

By Vera Newman @marblespoon

Making Pesach for the first time can be overwhelming and intimidating. This year, many people are making Pesach for the first time, from newly married couples to couples that have been married for 25 years… 

We have 2 weeks until Pesach comes and if we get organized and start tackling it step by step, room by room and you break down the process this is really doable and approachable. Start by making a timeline. If you already started cleaning, good for you, if you are a last-minute type of person like me, start now. 

CLEANING: 

BINS AND GARBAGE BAG METHOD (B&GB method): 

This is what I call the method I use for fast and effective cleaning and I will be mentioning it a few times throughout this guide. 

Before you walk into a room to start your speedy cleaning process, grab a few clean bins and a garbage bag, open one cabinet and drawer at a time; remove items inside and wipe down using antibacterial wipes or surface cleaning with a paper towel, spray, wipe down and put items back in. If there’s any chametz or crumbs, throw into the garbage bag. Move on to the next cabinet or drawer. Don’t be tempted to reorganize.

BEDROOMS: 

This is not the time to do a spring cleaning, organize books, sort out outgrown clothing, redecorate. Leave that for some other time. Walk in with a goal in mind, tackle it and scratch off your list. 

  1. Open one cabinet and drawer at a time and follow the B&GB method. 
  2. Wipe down surfaces, dressers, beds, cribs and any other furniture you have in the room. 
  3. Do an overall checking in the closet, where typically chametz its not stored, remove any chametz visible and move on.
  4. Move beds, sweep and mop, done.

Congratulations, you’ve just tackled your first room and can now call it, Kosher for Pesach. No one is allowed to bring in chametz back in at this point.

Continue with the next bedrooms, following the same process.

BATHROOMS:

We don’t eat or drink in bathrooms, so these rooms don’t need to be cleaned for Pesach, again don’t be tempted to reorganize your make up, or discard expired products, leave that for some other time.

LIVING ROOM/DINING ROOM: 

I clean these rooms the sunday before Pesach for obvious reasons, it shouldn’t take too long and as long as I’m organized and on schedule this should be a breeze and not take more than 30 minutes.

  1. Move all couch cushions and wipe off all visible crumbs. Wipe down pillows and chairs.
  2. Wipe down surfaces, lamps, decor, side tables, coffee table, etc. 
  3. Move couch, sweep and mop, done.
  4. Wipe down dining room chairs and check for crumbs.
  5. Strip down dining room table from any tablecloth or table protector pad and wipe down well. 
  6. Move dining room table, sweep and mop, done.
  7. If you have a china cabinet and/or credenza/buffet table, follow the B&GB method. If you are able to, move the piece of furniture to sweep and mop under. 
  8. Vacuum carpet/rug well and you are done. 

FAMILY ROOM/PLAYROOM:

This room, besides the kitchen is the most chametzdik room in the house, as we eat breakfast and dinner there during the week, and it’s the designated living room area in our house.

I find that it’s not practical to clean it up well too far in advance as it is not realistic to keep the kids out of there for too long. I will leave these rooms for the sunday before pesach to do a general wipe down and vacuum, I would clean the toys before that though. Do what’s best for you, there’s not right or wrong here. 

  1. Using the B&GB method, remove toys from their box/container, wipe down and return to the box. If you see any visible chametz toss into the garbage bag. Don’t be tempted to organize toys as this can be very time consuming. 
  2. Wipe down surfaces, lamps, decor, side tables, bookshelves, briefly check for chametz and remove.
  3. Move all couch cushions and wipe off all visible crumbs. Wipe down pillows.
  4. Move couch, sweep and mop, done.
  5. Wipe down chairs and check for crumbs.
  6. Strip down table from any tablecloth or table protector pad and wipe down well. 
  7. Move table, sweep and mop.
  8. Vacuum carpet/rug well and you are done.

BASEMENT:

Bedrooms/Bathroom:

  1. Do a general check for chametz in the bedrooms as typically chametz it’s not brought down there, wipe down as needed.
  2. Vacuum or sweep/mop bedrooms, done.
  3. Unless there’s a specific chametz product like soap containing oats in your bathroom, you might as well skip this room.

Playroom:

  1. Using the B&GB method, remove toys from their box/container, wipe down and return to the box. If you see any visible chametz toss into the garbage bag.
  2. Wipe down surfaces.
  3. Vacuum or sweep/mop, done.

Kitchen:

Most people that have a kitchen in the basement keep it for Pesach, this is not the case for me, as my catering kitchen is actually what I use my basement kitchen for, but this probably doesn’t apply to you. I will actually “sell” and lock this kitchen for Pesach as it’s too chametzdik to even attempt. If your kitchen in the basement is Pesadik there’s nothing to clean there.

LAUNDRY ROOM:

Some people have pantries in their laundry room or use it to store chametz utensils, china and things of the sort, I will be just closing off and “selling” these cabinets. 

  1. Do a general check for chametz, wipe down as needed.
  2. Sweep/mop, done.

KITCHEN:

There’s many different ways to clean a kitchen for Pesach I will break down the way I will be doing mine.

This week (2 weeks before pesach): 

  • Remove all the food from the fridge and freezer and do a deep cleaning/sanitizing. 
  • Toss all expired, unwanted products.
  • Place back in only what I absolutely need/want to keep.

Next week (1 week before pesach):

  • Transfer the items from the cabinets I will be designating for Pesach to the basement and store away. Clear 3 or 4 shelves to use as a pantry and 2 or 3 drawers for pesach utensils, pots and pans.
  • Clear 1 or 2 in my dairy side for my pesach dairy utensils, pots and pans. 

Week of Pesach:

  • Clean and wipe off counters very well according to halacha (ask your LOR) and cover with counter covers.
  • Clean and wipe off the outside of all the cabinets and drawers.
  • Clean and wipe off all stainless steel (fridge/freezer, dishwashers, etc).
  • Clean well according to halacha (ask your LOR) your stove top and oven (self-cleaning, etc).
  • Close off and “sell” all cabinets and drawers containing chametz.
  • Clean floor well, sweep/mop.
  • Place pesach items into the designated cabinets and drawers.
  • Kasher sinks according to halacha (ask LOR). 

I personally have a fridge/freezer in the basement and in the garage where I will be transferring my chamentz to and “sell” it, but if you don’t have that just cover and “sell” or toss, according to your minhag.

SHOPPING:

I already ordered my pesach utensils, pots, pans and judaica. As many of you know, you can shop via the Metziahs Pesach section for items that will arrive on time!

China? Real silverware? Not this year! I will be using paper goods for everything. I will be buying nice yomtovdik plates, bowls, cups and silverware. A good way to calculate how much you need to buy is by breaking down how many people you will be having per meal plus some extra.

For example, for a family of 5: there’s a total of 10 yom tov meals, 6 on the first round and 4 on the second round. So technically I need at least 50 complete sets of paper goods, I calculate to have at least 50% more then what I need just to be on the safe side, in case something breaks or a kid wants another “clean plate”. 

75 dinner plates, 75 salad plates, 50 bowls (not every meal will have soup), 75 nice cups, 150 forks (calculating for the meals I will serve fish and dessert), 75 knives and 75 spoons. 

Weekday paper goods, for a family of 5 I will be getting 100 of each: dinner plates, smaller plates, regular size bowls, small bowls, plastic forks, knives, spoons, cups and coffee cups. 

Aluminum/Foil pans and miscellaneous:

Buy 9×13 pans, 9” round and square pans, full-size pans and baking sheets in bulk. 

Don’t forget to buy Pesachdik parchment, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil, as well as zip-lock bags. 

TIPS: 

  • Papergoods can get expensive but think about it this way, whatever you have leftover you will use year-round and its better to buy some extra than to run out. 
  • If you are sensitive to the recycling aspect of using disposables, there are beautiful paper plates cups out there available and there’s no need to use plastic. 

Food Shopping:

Come up with a simple, but detailed menu. Create a shopping list based on the menu, plus basic things like matza, drinks, snacks, breakfast items, dairy items, extra produce, and fruits. 

Purchase non-perishable items first. The way I do it, since my kitchen is done very close to pesach and I don’t want to risk my local store running out of the items I want, I open up a clean cosco type table in my basement and display the items in the table until I’m ready to move them up to my designated kitchen cabinets. Some people store in the garage, Do what’s best and what works for you. 

Purchase dairy items and frozen items next, store in your clean fridge/freezer and cover up so no one touches it until pesach, if you have an extra fridge/freezer, store there. As well as produce that lasts nicely, like onions, potatoes, garlic and certain fruits. 

Purchase meats, chickens and fish closer to pesach. If your local kosher butcher allows it, place an order in advance, this way your are not scrambling to grab whatever is available, if you have a specific order, you can just go in pick up and not waste time. In some places delivery is available, same advice, be sure to order in advance so they can successfully fulfill your order. Same goes for more delicate and easily perishable produce. 

COOKING:

This might not be doable for some people but this is what works for me. Some people are “in advance cooks”, I prefer to cook every day and not necessary slave away in the kitchen for 2 or 3 days. I try not to stress about the cooking part. As long as I have what I need, usually the cooking is easy.

I like to mostly bake and roast my food on yom tov. I bake the meats and chickens and roast potatoes and veggies in the oven. I try to avoid time consuming or multi-step recipes. I lean more towards the things that take very little prep time and can be made in the oven. So my yom tov lunches will be made the morning of and the food for my night meals will be made on erev yom tov, as well as my baked goods/desserts.  

Salads are made fresh, I make sure to stock up on loads of fresh fruits and vegetables to have on hand. 

SAMPLE MENU:

Wednesday Dinner (Seder #1)

  • Seder
  • Gefilte Fish
  • Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
  • Minute Roast with Mushrooms
  • Kishka Stuffed Chicken
  • Potato Kugel
  • Mixed Roasted Vegetables 
  • Sweet Potato Kugel

Thursday Lunch (Yom Tov)

  • Creamy Broccoli Soup
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken Poppers 
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Broccoli
  • Fresh Salad

Thursday Dinner (Seder #2)

  • Seder
  • Gefilte Fish
  • Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
  • Pastrami 
  • Roasted Chicken 
  • Roasted Potatoes 
  • Spinach Kugel 

Friday Lunch (Yom Tov)

  • Lamb Kebabs
  • Schnitzel 
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Israeli Salad
  • Roasted Cauliflower 

Friday Dinner (Yom Tov) 

  • Gefilte Fish
  • Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
  • Sherry Wine Roast
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs 
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Potato Kugel 
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Asian Broccoli 

Shabbos Lunch (Yom Tov)

  • Yapchik
  • Schnitzel 
  • Fresh Salad 

Motzae Shabbos (Chol Hamoed)

  • Matza Pizza or Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Sunday Lunch (Chol Hamoed)

  • Chicken Fingers
  • French Fries
  • Fresh Salad

Sunday Dinner (Chol Hamoed)

  • Cheese Lasagna
  • Lemon Butter Salmon
  • Greek Salad

Monday Lunch (Chol Hamoed)

  • Hot Dogs and Potatoes
  • Fresh Salad

Monday Dinner (Chol Hamoed)

  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Pan-Fried Tilapia 
  • Caesar Salad with Matzo Croutons 

Tuesday Lunch (Erev Yom Tov)

  • Sautéed Ground Beef with Mushrooms and Onions
  • Mashed Potatoes 
  • Fresh Salad

Tuesday Dinner (Yom Tov) 

  • Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls
  • Garlic and Herbs Roast
  • Kishka Stuffed Chicken
  • Mixed Roasted Vegetables 
  • Sweet Potato Kugel

Wednesday Lunch (Yom Tov)

  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Pesto Salmon
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables
  • Fresh Salad 

Wednesday Dinner (Yom Tov) 

  • Corned Beef
  • Chicken Poppers
  • Mashed Potatoes 
  • Broccoli Kugel 

Thursday Lunch (Yom Tov)

  • Vegetable Soup with Flanken 
  • Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Fresh Salad 

Make a few desserts and baked goods to have, as well as cut-up fruit!

Sharing my favorite and most requested pesach recipe:

Chicken Poppers – @marblespoon

  • 2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut in 1 inch cubes 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce, General Tso sauce or Sweet Chili sauce
  • Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken cubes, add salt, sugar, and white pepper; mix well. Mix in 1 cup of potato starch a little bit at a time until the chicken cubes are well coated. 
  • Heat oil to 375 degrees. In batches, carefully drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil one by one, cooking until they turns golden brown and begin to float, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to cool as you fry the next batch. 
  • In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, pour the sauce (add a couple tablespoons of water to the bottle to pick up all remaining of the sauce). Mix well. When the sauce starts to simmer, add chicken and mix well so all the chicken is well coated in the sauce. Top with sesame seeds and enjoy! 

Vera Newman Is the creator of the popular Instagram page @marblespoon. She is an avid recipe collector and creator. She prides herself on her knowledge of all things food and has built a loyal following. Her recipes have been featured on kosher.com, between carpools, Mishpacha, and Binah Magazine. She will be Debuting her very own cookbook this year!

You can contact Vera via email veramarblespoon@gmail.com And can follow her for more recipes and tips @marblespoon


Regarding cleaning this year being different than previous years, your local rabbi should be consulted as to what he deems necessary per Halacha. Metziahs.com does not yet Pasken.

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