The Survival Kit to Feeding Kids on Pesach (Passover)
Pesach. Passover. Help.
On top of all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, more shopping, there’s the worry: what will I feed my kids?
If you have little children who are particular about their food (they only like one flavor of yogurt or only eat oats for breakfast), or even older kids who are particular about what they eat, it can be extremely stressful and worrying. My two year old is already asking where the oatees are and I am not sure how many times he’s going to cry when I say we don’t have!
Last year, I took my kids to trampoline land and my 3 year old was so starving he started crying for the ice cream cake in the nearby store. Luckily, I had stashed some nosh in the car, but it was a stark reminder that Pesach is challenging.
Then there was the year when there was a yogurt shortage and I was so worried that my kids would not have anything to eat that I lined up at 7am and bought yogurt for exorbitant prices. Obviously my kids would not eat it.
These 8 (or be honest 10 – 12 days) days take more effort – my children live on bread and crackers and stuff like that, so coming up with filling alternatives needs some creativity. I am pretty relaxed about it this year, because I have learned what I can and can’t control. Here’s how I plan to get by:
Don’t buy expensive substitutes It’s so tempting to spend a fortune on imported cereals and other things because “cereal is the only thing my child will eat for breakfast”. Unless you are 100% fine with wasting money or you know 100% they will eat them, I would not count on your kids eating them. Rather, make do with regular foods which can be eaten, and trust that they will make a plan with what’s there. I may buy one or two, but they are never the same, and I will likely get annoyed that I bought them and they going to waste. I won’t rely on them or force my kids to eat them.
Write down a list of regular, familiar and accepted foods your children already eat. Here’s my list (not all kids eat everything on this list):
- Potatoes – salad, wedges, chips
- Sweet potatoes
- Baked/ roast chicken
- Grilled steak
- Fresh fruit & veggies – cucumbers, carrots, apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, papaya.
- Smoked salmon
- Cheese – yellow and white
- Chicken soup
- Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs
- Some nuts
Plan meal by meal To know what to shop, and where are the gaps, I like to write down meal by meal what we can eat, and see if everyone will find something they like. Having a plan makes me feel less overwhelmed and calm – there is food and even though some may complain, they can find something they like from what I offer.
For example – Breakfast:
- Eggs – scrambled/ omelettes
- Yoghurt & banana & strawberries & honey
- Matza meal porridge with honey and butter
- Matza and spreads (cheese, honey, chocolate spread)
- Cut up fruit
Truthfully none of these are a sure thing. But hopefully if I put a few different items on the table, they will find something they like
My regular meal planning works just great for Pesach too.
Protein (not legumes on pesach) + starch/ carb + fruit/veg + fat = GO.
Since things like pasta, bread and crackers aren’t available, it is harder and more time-consuming to get meals together quickly. Most meals will require a bit more prep/ cooking, even lunch time. If your kids like matza, its much easier, but I find matza is not always a favorite especially with little ones, so some prep goes a long way (eg having boiled potatoes in the fridge).
Don’t go all out and get fancy and try new dishes just for your kids. They may not like them, and you will likely get irritated by preparing and cooking for nothing. I am all for trying new things, but Pesach is such a limited food times for children who may already be struggling to eat, so you don’t need add stress or anxiety.
Prepare the regular foods you enjoy, as well as some basic staples for the kids, and if they choose to eat the more adventurous/ less known foods – wonderful.
Weekday Pesach dinners will be something like this: chicken/ steak, potatoes/ sweet potatoes, salad, fruit, avocado. Repeat
Pesach cake, brownies, potato crisps, nuts, dried fruit and the like are also food. If your little one is super picky, they may eat a very limited range of foods and live on brownies and yoghurt the whole holidays. You keep doing your job – providing variety with NO pressure at structured times, and trusting them to eat what they need. They may surprise you 😊
Keep as much structure as you can When we are worried our kids are hungry, we tend to offer snacks every time they cry or at any time. Structured meals is the key to children eating well. Kids who snack all day never get hungry, and then don’t eat at meals. I know you may be worried, but stick to offering snacks every 2 -4 hours and let your kids build up an appetite
Do not verbalize your anxiety Even if you are feeling it please do not say out loud “I am so stressed, I don’t know what Racheli will eat on Pesach, she’s so picky, she lives on noodles”. You will create anxiety in your child, as well as label the child and let her know that you don’t believe she can manage and make do with what is available. Trust that we have survived Pesach for thousands of years, and it is just 8 days and your child will be okay!! .
It’s just one week If your child’s eating is rather unbalanced over the 8 days – do not panic. Keep doing your job and providing a variety of foods at structured meal times, and trust that they will make up for missing nutrients in the other 357 days of the year.