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6 Tips for Putting Away Your Passover Stuff in a Purposeful Way That Will Help Keep You Sane

About twelve years ago, I graduated from putting away all my Passover stuff haphazardly to putting it away purposefully, and I noticed how much easier doing it that way made the following year's preparation.

Of course, I don't want to rush you through enjoying the second half of this wonderful Pesach holiday, but the time to start thinking about you will put everything away is actually now.  So just consider it, and then have another piece of chocolate-covered matzoh.   Here we go:

Starting with the last day of Chol HaMoed, stop using containers and store leftovers in ziplocs.  Or, store it in containers that you don't mind rotating into your chametz kitchenware.  This way, there is never a Pesach container that inadvertently becomes chametz because you forgot to remove the contents, and you are not stuck with washing out tupperware after Pesach. Along the same lines, I always use disposable paper and plastic tableware for our last Pesach lunch.  This way, I don't have a huge pile of dishes to attack right after Pesach.  Right after Pesach, start with a clean kitchen and don't start ripping off foil and shelf liners yet.  Wash and dry all the dishes, silverware and pots and pans.  Put all the aluminum pans in the recycling bin.  Wipe down all of your counters.

Then take out all the food from your Pesach pantry and put it all out on the table.  Make three piles:  1) save for next year 2) give away or discard 3) use for chametz.   Next, you need to store the non-perishable food that you are putting away for next year properly and triage through the stuff that's old.  When you are deciding what to save for next year, be brutal.  Have you had that can of tomato sauce for more than two or three years?  Rotate it into chametz, because you really don't want to be eating old food, and yes, even canned stuff degrades.

Write the year on top of any cans that you bought this year, so that next year, you'll know just how old something has been in your Pesach stash.   Saving tea (not coffee) and spices from year to year is fine, as long as they are dry.  Do not save open boxes of anything, whether it's potato starch, matzoh meal, or cake mixes.  They will be stale next year and taste old.  (I actually don't save even closed boxes of cake mixes, because I think they degrade and get moldy and yucky.)  I will save closed boxes of cake meal and matzoh meal, which I store in freezer ziplocs on a special shelf in my garage freezer year-long. I don't save any cans that came from Israel (like Osem pickles or olives) because I've had Israeli cans start to leak or bulge after a year and that can give you a serious case of food poisoning, so rotate those into your chametz pantry right away.  I give away non-gebrokts stuff I won't use to my gluten-free friends, who will make good use of it.  Open potato starch can be used in Chinese food recipes (substitute for corn starch).  Open matzoh meal and cake meal can be used for breading (mix with panko crumbs) or for making matzoh balls.

If you have concerns about food safety in terms of saving things from year to year, I've compiled a list of food storage articles that you might find to be very helpful:
Get out your laptop and record everything that you've decided to save for next year's Pesach in a spreadsheet.  You don't need details, just something like : "2 cans cranberry sauce" will do.  You will be so happy you did this when it comes time to make your Pesach shopping list next year.

Whatever you're giving away should go in a box and put it in the trunk of your car now. Get it out of the way.  Wipe down your shelf liners from the pantry and label them on the back (3rd shelf, right side, etc., so that you can use them next year) and put back in the pantry whatever you're rotating back into chametz.

Make copious notes on what worked and what didn't this year, what broke, what you need to buy next year, what you bought too much of, what you should have bought, save recipes that were good, discard recipes that were not.  Write the notes on your computer, not on paper, and save the file with the name Pesach Notes and then the year.  That file is going to be a lifesaver next year.  If you've never done this before and don't know where to start, download and print my basic Post-Pesach notes file here to help you get started!

As you put away your Pesach kitchenware, make sure everything is labeled for meat, dairy or pareve. Don't trust yourself to remember next year, especially on new things that you purchased this year.  We use red, blue and white nail polish to label our kitchenware.  If you have stuff that never got toveled or used, label it, so that you know that you need to tovel it next year.

Get rid of those kitchen items you don't need or aren't working for you. As you're putting Passover stuff away, take your time and weed out all the items that you have no use for. Is there any reason to have 3 graters, none of which really grate all that well (been there, done that)?  Wouldn't it be nice to have a can opener that actually opened cans?  How much longer do you want to hold on to that broken mini-food processor?  Is that cheap, non-stick extra frying pan that you bought last year peeling and not really usable any more?  If you've got kitchen wares you'll never use, throw them out, donate them, freecycle them, bring them to Goodwill, but get rid of them.  You'll recover storage space (and a little sanity), and ultimately, disposing of stuff that's not working for you always saves you money in the long run.

Use up your perishables or give them away.  Go through the fridge, audit your produce and perishables and make sure nothing goes to waste.   We overbought eggs this year, so I'm going to bring those over to a friend's house this week.  My extra potatoes will also get used; before those things start growing eyes and turning yucky, I'm processing all but 6 potatoes and making potato kugels, which will go right into the freezer. If you baked too much and don't like to keep fattening sweets around the house, send them to work with you or your spouse.  You can freeze extra bricks of cream cheese and margarine.   Don't wait until the end of next week to discover wilted produce and spoiled perishables in your fridge.
Have you got any must-do Passover pack-up tips that I missed?

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