Can You be Chametz-Free in 29 Days?

chametz-in-the-pantry

Now that Purim has passed (unless you live in Yerushalaim or another walled city and celebrate Shushan Purim),the countdown begins. There is a full lunar month between Purim (the 14th of Adar) and Pesach (the 14th of Nissan). Which really isn’t very much time at all, especially when you’ve just been inundated with major chametz! Prior to Pesach, a Jewish home must be free of chametz. So, ideally that means you get rid of all your chametz. Uh-oh. Couldn’t resist that humungous tub of pretzels that was on sale at Costco the week before Pesach? Rest assured, the Rabbis have you covered. You can “sell” your chametz to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday, keep it in a cabinet labeled “off limits” and “buy it back” when the holiday is over. I realize that sounds extraordinarily strange, but it saves you from say, having to toss a whole bunch of cookies. (Click here to learn more about selling your chametz-on line!)

While I was baking for Purim, I scoured my pantry looking for a small bottle of vanilla extract that I knew was hiding back there somewhere. Well, I finally found it, but during the search, I realized we have a whole lotta chametz! (See photo at top of post for a peak inside my pantry.) Flours, grains, legumes, beans (we’re Ashkenazi and don’t eat kitniyot on Pesach), several different varieties of rice, popcorn, and three (!) opened bags of polenta,  So, what to do if, like me, you’ve got a pantry full of chametz and only 29 days to consume it all?

Here’s my challenge for you all: (I realize I run the risk of sounding like SELF magazine here-“The 30 Day Challenge to Thin Thighs…”) But hear me out. Can you “live of the fat of the land” (or your pantry) for the next 29 days and try and consume what you’ve got? The next time you’re tempted to order take out for dinner or feel you “need” to go food shopping because “there is nothing to eat in the house”, pause. Take a look deep in the pantry, and see what you’ve got. I’ll bet you can you whip up a quick and healthy meal with out buying new stuff. Try it.

My husband derives great pleasure from finishing something that’s been hanging out in the cabinet or fridge for a while, and I have to admit, it is kind of freeing and nice to see some empty space on the shelves. Aside from this satisfaction, you’ll be spending and consuming less, and be just a bit closer to becoming chametz-free.

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7 Responses to “Can You be Chametz-Free in 29 Days?”

  1. phyllis Says:

    how funny, i was planning in the next few days to write almost exactly this post – realizing how full my freezer and pantry are and how short the time is between now and (gulp) then….we’d better get eating and not shopping! i found 3 frozen challot…oy vey.

  2. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster Says:

    I’m a little insanely type A about this, and also, having read the Wasted Food Blog (http://www.wastedfood.com/) I know how important it is to eat down your pantry from time to time in order to make sure that food doesn’t expire. So I’ve been trying to reduce my pantry since Chanukah….That’s a long time, but we’ve actually made some headway. I keep a running list of “purchase after Pesach.” And given we have a Whole Foods opening up here soon, it will also give me a chance to replace some of my pantry staples with organic stuff (flour, rice, beans, etc).

    It’s been an interesting endeavour, as I try to figure out exactly how old some of the legumes (the kinds we eat less often) actually are. And it isn’t always easy. Tonight’s recipe to use up the chickpeas resulted in me purchasing more couscous! But overall it is a great way to save money, prevent food waste, and get in the spirit of Pesach.

    I actually know a few people who don’t sell their chametz and really eat or get rid of everything. But that’s too much scotch to drink or pour down the drain!

  3. suzette Says:

    So true! In our house we call this “the big use-up” – sometimes I peak too soon though, and there’s not much left and there’s still a week or two to go!

  4. Ahavah Says:

    We are on track…. mind I have been planning/cleaning/clearing and my poor dodi has been eating some of the ermm most interesting dinners since December. :0D

  5. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    “I actually know a few people who don’t sell their chametz and really eat or get rid of everything. But that’s too much scotch to drink or pour down the drain!”

    RRKT – there’s actually a difference between the chametz and kitniyos such as flour and legumes (all the stuff in the pantry) where’s it’s meritorious to finish them before Pesach and the “good stuff” which potentially causes a “hefsed m’rubah” – a significant pecuniary loss – in other words, now is not the time to take advantage of the 2-for-one hamantaschen sale – but the SMS collection (which should be savored and favored) could be sold under the heter of mechiras chametz

    As usual, consult your local green rabbi:) (say hi to LT for me)

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