Passover is Expensive!

Consider this a rant. Every Passover, Jewish families are stuck shelling out 3-4 times the ordinary amount of  money they spend on food just to survive the 8-day-long holiday. I mean, $7.99 for 6 processed and mediocre-looking chocolate cupcakes? You have got to be kidding me! Chocolate cupcakes might seem unnecessary for “survival” but I assure you there are many other more necessary Passover foods that are beyond overpriced as well. And I need to complain about it.

Before I go any further, I should explain what Kosher for Passover means. The basic definition for Kosher for Passover foods means no grains or foods that contain yeast, sourdough or anything that causes fermentation. This can be extrapolated this to mean: no bread, no pasta, no rice, etc. but a strict observance of Passover involves much more than simply omitting these foods from your holiday diet.

While products like applesauce or apple juice do not seem like they would breach the basic definition, it’s possible that the apple juice you’re used to buying is not kosher for Passover. For instance, the conventional recipe might incorporate grains or other non-kosher for Passover ingredients OR the juice could have been processed on equipment used to process non-Kosher for passover products as well. But how would you know?

Enter: the Kosher For Passover symbol. Like all kosher foods, in order to identify a product as truly Kosher for Passover, you need to look for a symbol on the packaging. This symbol is called a “hechsher” and it indicates that the product was supervised by a Rabbi and made in accordance with kosher laws. This is what distinguishes “Passover food’ from any regular food that might not seem unkosher for Passover. And these foods have the prices I’m complaining about.

Back to my rant:

Is it the supervision that costs so much? Why would Passover supervision cost more than regular kosher supervision? I do recognize that there is much more cleaning and scrutiny involved, but if you think about it…Passover is not a surprise every year and they should have separate equipment ready to go.

It’s just frustrating when you spend $70 on one tiny trip to the grocery store and all you have brought home is some matzo, wine, cookies and a can of mushrooms. And believe me, the portions weren’t large either. Or how about the other time I spent $25 on some hot cereal, almonds, brown sugar, ground walnuts? The stuff adds up! Neither of these grocery trips was enough to feed a family, let alone put a seder together for guests.

I just don’t understand why a bag of potato chips that has 2-3 servings has to cost $3.69 ($3.99 at a more expensive store).  While regular food prices have fluctuated due to the economy this past year, most prices have been back down for months. And the ingredients used in most Kosher for Passover products shouldn’t be too different from the potatoes or oil (for this example) we use normally.

Sure, instead of buying that Passover cake for $11.99, you can make your own Passover Hazelnut Chocolate Viennese Torte. But the problem is: your ingredients are still going to be expensive.  It just seems like some companies are taking advantage. Consumers expect prices to go up for Passover but this year’s  prices are unreasonable. Maybe companies should factor in expensive Passover supervision in products throughout the year to make the prices on Passover more manageable?

The sad thing is there are people who want to observe Passover but can’t because of these prices. An organization called Maot Chitim asks for donations every year to send Passover food to religious families who can’t afford it. Believe it or not, the donation requests have increased 25% to feed the same amount of people  as last year. What costs $72 last year to send a food package to a family of four now costs $90. If that doesn’t reflect the huge increase in food prices, I don’t know what does.  To make a donation, click here.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you share in this frustration? Do you know why Passover foods are so expensive? Do you have a solution to avoid this problem in the future? Post in the comments!

Passover Recipes and Tips:
Preparing for Passover
Honey Passover Cheesecake
Passover Hazelnut Chocolate Viennese Torte
Passover Pickled Fish
Passover Rolls

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  • http://simplyscrumptiousfoodie.com Jessie

    I do not understand why the prices are high when the economy is doing poorly and people keep getting laid off!

  • http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com Melissa

    I have no idea why the prices skyrocket so much for the holiday. But it’s sad that religious people who want to celebrate are unable to do it. Truly maddening. The grocery trip examples you used are just unbelievable.

  • http://www.theperfectpantry.com Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    From the time I was a little girl, my parent complained about the high price of kosher-for-Passover foods, feeling that we were getting ripped off. Nothing has changed, except the prices have gotten even more outrageous. There are few options, except to buy as little as possible and make as much as you can at home.

  • http://dcgluties.com Samantha

    Uh, welcome to the lifestyle of a gluten free eater that’s allergic to wheat, barley and rye. We have to put up with those prices all year long. And the selection? It’s better and cheaper at passover than it is the whole rest of the year. In some countries specialty foods are subsidized. If you can itemize your deductions, you can claim the cost differential between products when you do your taxes.

  • http://healthy-delicious.com LK- Healthy Delcious

    my thoughts are… I’m glad I’m not Jewish? sorry, that sounds like a pain. I think they just charge more because they can.

  • http://www.saltnturmeric.com Farina

    I find all kosher food in general expensive. I really would like to buy them esp meat as it is also halal for muslims but they usually cost between 50% to double than regular meat. Sorry that you have to fork out more to celebrate your holiday.

  • http://alittlefoodie.blogspot.com/ Juliette

    It’s soo frustrating! Prices are really ridiculous, and of course they can get away with it because there’s no alternative. The one thing I would say is that, at least in the UK, meat at Passover is no more expensive than kosher meat is the rest of the year. But kosher food generally is costly!

  • J C Superstar

    There’s a simple answer to your dilemma – Reform. Join the bacon-eating jewish reform group. dietary and symbolic observations like this should be retired along with the archaic beliefs of our naive and ignorant ancestors.

  • http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com Hannah

    It’s true, but prices are outrageous across the board for me at least. Our food bill has sky rocketed lately!

  • Renee

    Basically, here’s what I think is the thought process: Kosher for Passover means A) You have to check that it is Kosher AND that it is Kosher for Passover! So they have to pay people for that because they got to make a living. Then, it is the entitled price gouging. YOU get food for Passover. YOU are lucky. Woop. It’s available. There’s some money tacked right there. Different recipe and changing machine functions? More money. People desperate to keep Passover no matter what? Might as well charge ya. You WILL buy it, no matter what. Might as well goue up the price. People are not going to boycott Passover products and just buy veggies. They are too stuck in their cookie-eating, marshmallow-eating soup-eating ways. Bam. More price gouging. We will pay anything. And since it is a limited time, they milk up the price. To pretend it is something “rare.”

    What we need is a boycott from a large percentage of the Jewish population that keeps the Passover. Just gefilte fish, matzah, vegetables, and seder things. They are toying with the uncommon beliefs of Judiasm to make a couple of hard-earned bucks. And maybe the store’s willingness to carry the item holds some weight on price. But if you eat rather healthily on Passover, the price won’t be that bad! And if you eat your food in moderation, the price can carry its weight in gold. And maybe that is the price to pay for being able to eat chocolate in such a delicate alimentation cycle.

    The gouging of the food has certain allusions to the Jews’ persecution before 1939 . . . but thing is we have freedom, so THIS is okay . . . yet during Passover, we are celebrating freedom as it says in the Hagaddah. . . it really is disgusting :-(

  • Shoshana

    t’s true that Passover is expensive. However, with some careful research, it can be a bit cheaper. For example, some products like white, granulated sugar and extra virgin olive oil don’t need special Passover certification (check with your Rabbi first to confirm this). Also, certain spices in this category that are unused the rest of the year with non-Passover food may be saved from year to year (put away in a place so that it won’t be used with non-Passover food). We also used fruits and vegetables for many main and side dishes. From a local fruit market, we were able to get most of our fruits and vegges for about $20 and it lasted the whole week. Another thing mentioned was making things from scratch – we used a lot of potato starch and matza meal (we could have used cake meal too, but none of my recipes called for that this year) and didn’t buy as much processed stuff. We even made our own mayonnaise this year! The bottom line, I believe, is that even though the prices are high, it is still possible to save money and have enough food to eat. Hope this helps for next year!

  • Anna

    So far it’s been a lot of raw nuts (also allowed without special cert.,supposedly) and fruit for me-could we call it the FAST of the unleavened bread?

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