Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Good Reason for Shopping Early

People like to moan and groan when I happen to mention Pesach too early, or at least too early for them. Purim has not yet arrived and I'm already pushing Pesach.

Let me give you one good reason for thinking about Pesach well before it looms in sight. I mentioned last week that many of the major markets in our area have already had the bulk of their Pesach items out on display for sale for the past few weeks. One friend mentioned that her market got those Pesach items out early in February.

While in Shoprite last week I went down the Pesach aisle to see what this year's prices are going to be. A bit of sticker shock there, except where there wasn't. Some of those items were with sale stickers on them. Those luscious extra large chocolate bars, both bittersweet and milk chocolate, were on sale for $1 each. I have a cabinet where to store them so I bought a bunch. This week I went back down the aisle to see if anything different was on sale and just happened to glance at those same chocolate bars--the regular price sticker was back up and they are now $3.99 each--yes, you read that right.

In a different market the largest canisters of potato starch were on sale for $1.89 a canister--haven't seen that price in years.

So yes, talking about Pesach now can result in some real savings. Anyone really have money they don't mind throwing away?


Abba's Rantings said...

hmm. that chocolate bar sale sounds tempting. but it would likely cost me more money in the end if i bought them now. no way they'd last till pesach. i'd have to go back and buy more. and then again more. price per bar might be cheaper, but overall i'd spend more money (and consume more carlories, sugar, etc.)

"People like to moan and groan when I happen to mention Pesach too early"

moan. groan.

tesyaa said...

Chocolate bars are a bad example. I can take them or leave them. At $1, I guess I'd take them. At $3.99, I'd leave them. What do you really need for Pesach? Matza, matza meal, fruit, vegetables, eggs, sugar, meat, chicken - things that don't go on sale much. (exception for the big box of matza that you get with a coupon). The sweets, potato chips, etc are extras. Sure, I'll buy some chocolate for baking, but if I don't get a good price, I'll just buy what I need. If it's on sale I'll probably buy more than I need.

I too used to get all exercised about Pesach early in the season, but I found that even if I don't start most things until 3 weeks before, it gets done. The early worrying didn't do me a whole lot of good.

ProfK said...

Lots more than is on your list that you "need" for Pesach. Try things to drink--coffee, tea, juices, milk. Try condiments and spices and flavorings. For me it's the potato starch since we don't brok. Candles and yahrzeit lecht. Any and everything needed for baking since I don't buy ready made. Then there's oil--I purchased the grapeseed oil and hazelnut oil I prefer at half of what I paid for it last year--still expensive but way cheaper now than it will be.

Then there's the stuff that you need to use new on Pesach but that never seems to go on sale right then, like sponges and scrubbers and detergent and foils and plastic bags and wraps.

My downstairs fridge freezer is already pessachdik and yes, there are already chickens with the hechsher for Pesach available now and trust me on this, meat isn't going to get cheaper right before Pesach.

Obviously some things you can't buy yet, but if you use it or would use it if it were cheaper look for it now.

tesyaa said...

Milk? You're already buying milk? :)

Foil, sponges, plastic wrap - I have plenty in my basement bought at Costco. I don't buy for Pesach, just go downstairs and get a fresh package.

Oil is expensive, so I agree if it's on sale it's a good time to buy. But I'm not going to take a day off from work to shop. I'll fit it in when I have time...

ProfK said...

I wasn't suggesting that you necessarily have to take a day off to shop. But most people shop every week for regular groceries so I'm suggesting to check the Pesach products for what is on sale. No, I'm not buying milk yet--just an item to expand the list you gave.

I also stockpile items like sponges but eventually that stockpile starts to run low and now is when many stores are doing their "Spring cleaning" sales on these types of items.

Abba's Rantings said...


"there are already chickens with the hechsher for Pesach available"

according to the standard pesach guides, raw meat, chicken and fish don't require any special hechsher for pesach. there are variations (e.g., some except ground beef, some say only packaged, others say its all good).

same for extra virgin olive oil (OU specifies cold pressed, but i don't think i saw that in the other guides)

and candles

and milk (unless you buy it on pesach, in which case there is a minhag to buy with a pesach hechsher)

and unflavored/caffenated coffees/teas

and bags, sponges, foils, etc.

and this it just from the list of items you mentioned above. obviously it goes on and on.

i think it's great that you can take advantage of these early sales (and the group buying), but i think for many of us who for whatever reason won't do this it is more important to understand what really does and doesn't need a special hechsher.

just because the caustic toilet cleaner has an OU-P doesn't mean you can't use one without it.

of course the best way to save money is to visit the parents, although it sounds like you're at the other end of that deal :)

ProfK said...

I'll grant you Abba that a lot of things don't need a special hechsher for Pesach, even if they are used on Pesach. I once posted on toilet paper that carried a hechsher for Pesach--absurd. But if you are going to use those items for Pesach anyway why not buy now when the sales are on?

Some of the things you mentioned are in a gray area--some rabbanim say use a hechshered product and some don't. Take the raw chicken for instance. To be kashered salt is used on the chicken. Salt, however, requires a hechsher for Pesach because you aren't supposed to use iodized salt. So was the salt used in kashering iodized or not? It's one reason why some people only take meat that has a Pesach hechsher. Also re the meat, some of the bulk producers also produce, in the same factories/processing plants, products which contain echt chometz or kitniyos. They also sell their bulk meat to middlemen who sell to the consumer. Many of those middlemen aren't "pure" butcher shops but are stores and take home food places that handle echt chometz within the same place as the pesach meat is handled. A Pesach hechsher in these instances allows the consumer to know that the meat was kept separate and did not come into possible contact with any chometz.

Re the unflavored coffee, yes and no. Many coffee companies produce their non-decaf and unflavored coffees on the same production lines that produce their other products. And yes, there are some coffee companies that use wheat-based filters in the process of making their coffee, both caffeinated and decaff.

For some things having the Pesach hechsher takes the guess work out of buying.

Abba said...

if major kashruth organizations echoed by local shuls state something isn't a problem, i'm not sure why we have to start wondering about what if's.

"For some things having the Pesach hechsher takes the guess work out of buying."

for some things spending ten minutes looking over the standard guides takes the guess work out of buying and saves money (and times too)

Abba said...

"for some things spending ten minutes looking over the standard guides"

i.e., to see what doesn't require a pesach hechsher

ProfK said...

Which leasds one to wonder why the OU gives and OUP on Empire Chicken if it doesn't believe that raw chicken needs a hechsher. And yes, some of those plain non-decaf coffees under the OU carry an OUP.

Abba said...

"Which leasds one to wonder . . ."

no wonder. it's a business decision, plain and simple. businesses think it will increase sales (and they think of it as a good housekeeping seal of approval, as the OU explained once in a public forum). the OU's policy, similarly for business reasons, is not turn away anyone who wants a hashgacha (they have to pay for ncsy and other worthwhile programming, or if you want to be cynical you can take it in a different direction).

do an expirement. go the section in the OU guide listing items that don't require an OU-P hechsher. then go to the list of OU-P items and see how many are there.

listen, if someone's personal rav tells them something needs an OU-P hechsher, fine. but otherwise why he/she suddenly start guessing the OU et al? of course in any matter of doubt consult your personal rav.