Time to shop from your pantries, fridges, and freezers for a whole month! The Shelftember challenge has begun… We've got some exciting things in store for those who participate!
Now that the kids are all back in school, at least in my area, it's time to crack down and really start to get back on track with our budgets and our eating habits!
This summer has been just a little bit crazy, to say the least… But a nice home-cooked meal has always done the trick to make us feel better. Luckily, I can always dig through my pantry and freezer and whip up something healthy and surprisingly delicious in less than 30 minutes! Due to my habits in the kitchen, I can use shelf cooking to make this happen without fail.
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If you've been around for a while, you know that September is all about food around here! We host this #Shelftember challenge (you may have heard of it) that has been pretty big 'round these parts for the last 5 years! We're kicking off the 6th year straight and we're ready to rock it in the kitchen.
WHY SHELF COOKING?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. One of the greatest financial challenges I see on a daily basis is that people pay too much for groceries, but more importantly, they are not utilizing their food to the fullest potential. So much waste, too much stress and hassle, way too much eating out.
If you're new around here, shelf cooking is a phrase I've coined to describe a frugal style of cooking that bases your meals primarily around ingredients you have on-hand and supplementing with ingredients from the store, rather than the other way around. Yes, you can cook delicious, homemade, down-home-cooked meals this way! Yes folks, you've heard it here first! Woo hoo! Such trendsetters we are!
SHELF COOKING IS A BIG DEAL
First of all, you've got to check out our site that's completely dedicated to Shelf Cooking – the art of cooking from your pantry to provide delicious, homemade meals all while sticking to a budget! We dive in and share some incredible recipes, inspirational ways to use your leftovers, creative ways to stick to your grocery budget, awesome kitchen hacks, and so much more.
We really felt like Shelf Cooking deserved its own platform as we've seen how it has transformed the lives of thousands in our Shelf Cooking Community. Have you joined yet?
Don't be scared! You do NOT have to be a talented home chef to learn how to shelf cook… We'll teach you all the things you need to know! But first, let's talk #Shelftember challenge deets!
If you haven't been following along with our monthly challenges, it's so easy to get started!
Step 1. Print the monthly calendar. If you're not already on the mailing list, SIGN UP HERE to get the #Shelftember calendar emailed to you.
Step 2. Follow along! Each week there is one main challenge for you to focus on all week. Plus a bonus challenge, tip, or helpful habit to keep you focused half-way through the week. Then, of course, wrap up the week with a simple date or family night to help keep you focused on the people that matter most.
Step 3. As always, adapt the calendar to work for your needs and help you get the most out of the monthly challenge.
For the entire month of September, I'm challenging all of us to take the #Shelftember challenge. I'm pledging to feed my family on just $30/week in fresh groceries and consumables, and otherwise make our meals based around what I have on-hand!
I understand that $30 is very tight for some. I want this to be hard, but realistic. If you absolutely can't do $30/week, feel free to go up to $50 – but to make it a challenge, you really can't exceed $50/week. To keep to that amount, I recommend pulling out $30 cash from the bank every week to spend on supplemental groceries. Or use grocery pick-up and order online so you can watch your total and make sure it doesn't go over the $30 limit.
Use this kitchen inventory printable to track your inventory and see what you have on hand, already. When planning meals, use what you have first, and then supplement with your grocery budget.
I know this may seem a bit daunting, but Freebs everywhere are excited and have already joined the challenge.
Have absolutely NO food in your freezer, pantry, or fridge? We need to chat. Because I don't believe you. 😉 Or, maybe it's true, and you just don't like to eat. Either way, you need Mama J's help! Watch closely all month long and learn how to stock up so that you can be a rockstar in the kitchen, too!
Seriously guys, are you so excited or what??
SHELFTEMBER WEEKLY CHALLENGES
Let's break it down real quick for ya! Every Saturday we suggest prepping breakfast for the whole week. Not sure how to do this? Check out this make-ahead breakfast ideas post that will walk you through how it's done!
INVENTORY YOUR PANTRY
This is huge folks, you cannot shelf cook if you don't know what food you have! Take the time to make an inventory. We have these updated handy dandy inventory sheets that will make your life a gazillion times easier. Print 'em, use 'em, and get ready to use up all that food! Inventory everything.
After you successfully inventory your fridge, freezer, and pantry – you can plan all your meals for the week. Need a meal planning sheet? HERE YOU GO!! Need some ideas of what to make for dinner? Check out this huge list of dinner ideas!
For our mini-challenge this week, establish a weekly leftover night that allows you to use up all those leftovers in the fridge!
DOUBLE AND FREEZE
In order to successfully decrease the amount of time you spend in the kitchen, be smart and use the time you ARE in the kitchen to get MORE done. Double your recipes and freeze half for later – here are some great freezer meals to get your wheels turning. Don't forget to plan out all your meals to use up ingredients you have on hand before hitting up the grocery store.
Another helpful habit to start is making sandwiches in bulk to freeze for lunches. Kids (and adults) can just grab a sandwich in the morning and it will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.
FAMILY DATE NIGHT
This weekend we encourage you to get the family involved in prepping next week's meals together. Be creative, make it a fun challenge! Spending time with your family in the kitchen will help get everyone excited about shelf cooking! Make sure to share what you create on social media with the #Shelftember hashtag! We want to see your yummy creations!
UPDATE YOUR INVENTORY
By now you've probably used up a lot of the ingredients on your shelf. Time to do a big update of your inventory so you can plan out this week's meals!
For our mini-challenge this week, repurpose some leftovers to create a brand new dinner! Turn chicken noodle soup into a casserole, use leftover rice to make ham fried rice, leftover tacos make a great taco salad, you get the idea!
FAMILY DATE NIGHT
Take this family date to the next level by using ingredients from your pantry to create a fun family dessert! Mmmmm. Make sure to share what you create on social media with the #Shelftember hashtag! We want to see your yummy creations!
DOUBLE AND FREEZE AGAIN
All I can say is that this is a pretty big deal with shelf cooking! Use that freezer! This week's challenges are repetitive because shelf cooking is really about creating a new kitchen lifestyle. Think about food differently and you'll see different results!
Hopefully after the challenge ends, you'll continue the pattern!
TIPS FOR #SHELFTEMBER
Shelf cooking is extra challenging if you don't have a freezer, so I highly recommend you get an extra one. Put it in your garage, basement, closet, guest room, get creative! Watch this video for TONS of ideas.
Keep tabs on this blog, my YouTube channel, Facebook, and especially Instagram. I will be sharing tips about how we are making this challenge manageable. And don't forget about our site, ShelfCooking.com!
Join me by posting your pictures on FB or IG and tagging me so I can see your progress this month!
THE BEST TOOL FOR A SUCCESSFUL SHELFTEMBER
Ok, so maybe Shelftember sounds like a good idea, but it still feels a little intimidating? We've got you covered there, too! My team and I have put together the most amazing Shelf Cooking Subscription Meal Plan that does all the planning for you! Each week we'll email you a carefully curated meal plan, with recipes and a grocery list, that utilizes all our best shelf cooking principles.
Not only that, we are releasing a new and improved meal plan that is so amazing it will knock your socks off! After months of work we've been able to create a customizable meal plan that allows you to enter in what ingredients YOU have on hand so you can select the recipes that work for you! Whaaaaat??! Game. Changer!
But wait, wouldn't that amazingness be so expensive? NO WAY! You can try the meal plan for 7 days for only $1, friends! After that, you'll pay less than $10 a month for this life changing tool that will make Shelftember so much easier than you imagined!
Check out these posts for more tips on getting started with your shelf cooking challenge:
- Learn how to inventory your freezer, pantry, and fridge!
- Get some great tips for how to meal plan.
- And don't forget to check out ShelfCooking.com for tons of ideas, recipes, hacks, and more awesome content to help you be a boss in the kitchen!
Happy shelf cooking!