Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Amazon's Prime Day for the Newly Orthodox

It's Amazon Prime Day! Christmas for modern commercialism! How wonderful, right? Of course it would fall on a Jewish fast day. What two different energies to a day could there be? But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of Prime Day. 

There is no problem with buying things on Prime Day when it's also a fast, even if it may not be quite in line with the spirit of the day. Like all things, Amazon is a tool we can use for better or worse. Use it to enhance your life, not to add stress and feelings of deprivation and want-want-want.

When you're building a new orthodox life, Prime Day can be a great way to affordably get some of the items you need or want. Here are some suggestions of items I've personally found useful. You can find more general-use items on the site of a blogger you should know and support, Kosher on a Budget.

(You do need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of these deals. I've been one for many years now and can't say enough good things about it! Become a Prime Member today and you can take advantage of all these deals right now! Even better, this link gives you a 30 day trial to check it out! Have you seen the Amazon Prime video selection, especially for kids??)

Mandatory disclaimer: remember that a deal is never a bargain if you can't afford it. Becoming orthodox is expensive enough, and it's very easy to get caught up in all the things you could get to make your life easier. And on a different practical level, especially if you're still single, remember that you'll have to move all the stuff you buy one day! Minimalism and frugality are all the rage today for very good reason! We need it, especially in the economic situation most Millennials have been put in! 

Without further ado, your potential shopping list:

Books! We must always start with books. Physical books (not e-books) get $5 off if you spend $15 with the code PRIMEBOOKS17. Some books I would recommend: a siddur (prayerbook), Tanach or Chumash, Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering, the Aryeh Kaplan Anthology (there are two volumes), Jewish Literacy, and Rebbe (about the former Chabad Rebbe). Enjoy!

The Intant Pot (I believe many varieties are available today, with different sizes and features. It seems most of my readers are single, but if you have a family to feed, this 8 quart IP is the way to go! This ain't your mama's terrifying stovetop pressure cooker. It's very safe, quiet, and beyond convenient. I'm in love with mine. You can literally cook something without defrosting it! When you're as forgetful as me, that's a lifesaver. There are lots of resources to learn how to use it, from YouTube tutorials to the kosher Facebook group to specialty Facebook groups (like my personal two favorites, the Instant Pot Vegan Recipes and the Indian Vegan Instant Pot Recipes - all kosher when you make it yourself!). Prime Day is usually the lowest possible price you can find on Instant Pots.

The natural next product is the crock pot! The essential Shabbat lunch item. It's not just for cholent anymore! The crockpot needs a few adjustments for use on Shabbat, but its use is pervasive in the community and fully permissible when done right. You'll need to ask your posek or mentor how to properly adjust your particular model since each one is a little different. As a general rule, you'll be covering or somehow disabling the temperature mechanism so it can't be adjusted. The linked crockpot is quite large, six quarts.

My Kindle is my second child. I read...a lot. But when you're becoming more religious, you are often still moving a lot. I have happily moved 20+ boxes of books nearly every year for over a decade. I can't imagine how many boxes it would be with the thousands of books on my Kindle! Many Jewish books are available on Kindle now, and I love being able to highlight and make notes on it. I can't bring myself to do that in the physical Jewish books I own.

Smart lightbulbs! One day, we'll be able to get rid of all those timers and have lights that are the timer. I haven't made this switch yet (and also don't use timers because I always somehow mess up the times), but I hope to one day soon. I had the chance to play with these Philips Hue lights, and they're quite frankly magical. You can do so many fun things with them, but I think having them turn on and off at pre-determined times will be how most people use them. (The market is heating up, as I see another brand has released a similar product!)

Along those lines, you can do the same thing with outlets plugs! I can't wait to replace my (un-used) old-fashioned timers with ones that my computer or phone will program for me. I am apparently incapable of pushing the buttons right, so maybe my computer will do a better job. (There's are a couple of different brands available: SkyRoku and Insteon!)

If you want a full wall switch instead of a timer box, Insteon has you covered! I think this looks a lot nicer, but I'm not sure I'm up to tinkering with electrical work yet!

I found several deadbolts you can install on your door so you don't need to carry a key on Shabbat (like this), but you have to be very careful with those. Nowadays, most varieties have light-up buttons and can't be used on Shabbat. That seemed to be the case on all the ones I found on Amazon today. But if you find one today or another time, remember that the return policy is very generous! It might be worth trying since many of the descriptions aren't clear whether the deadbolt uses electricity or not.

Knives. What kosher kitchen doesn't need more knives? Here's a beautiful set of Cuisinart knives. There are two "colors," jewel and bright (pastel), so you can designate a different set for meat, dairy, or pareve. Too bad there's not a third color set! There are lots of other kitchen utensils to be found, like tongs in a million colors and a Kitchenaid 17 piece kitchen tool set!

You know what else there's never enough of? Tupperware with matching lids! (Ok, that's my Southern roots showing through, this is actually Rubbermaid brand. What do normal people call these? Reusable food containers? That's such a mouthful.) Other colors and sizes are available too.

A non-necessary but oh so useful thing in my kitchen is the mandolin slicer. Thankfully, going kosher and Shabbat meals in particular greatly increased my fruit and vegetable intake. Over the years, I've become much faster and more accurate at chopping them, but it still takes time. A mandolin slicer cuts uniformly and fast. There are two styles of mandolin slicers, and Amazon has the other type too!

Ah, pots and pans. We had to get here eventually. There are a lot of deals here, so look around. You can find one-off pans, pairs of frying pans, and whole sets. Here's a 14 piece red-colored set that looks like a good deal from Greenlife. There are also a lot of great deals on Rachel Ray-branded cookware, but they're a more expensive investment. If you need a Lodge Cast Irom dutch oven, they've got you covered too!

One Rachel Ray item I heartily endorse is this baking set! I like it so much I've bought it twice! I already mentioned I'm forgetful, right? I left them in the oven drawer when I moved out of an apartment, and the cleaning crew had throw it out (really?) by the time I remembered and called my prior landlord that afternoon! So I bought it again. It comes in two colors if you need separate dairy and pareve pans.

This list will definitely keep you (and your wallet!) busy for a while. Did you find anything else you'd recommend to a newly kosher home? Happy Prime Day, and may you have an easy and meaningful fast!