Shelftember Month Challenge and Printable Calendar

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!

I cannot even tell you how many trips we've been on this summer where we come home and just really crave a good home cooked meal! 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.

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 2 years! We're kicking off the 3rd year straight and we're ready to rock it in the kitchen.

You in!?!

Did we forget to mention we're giving away a FREEZER this month for all those who participate!?! Don't forget to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of this post!!!

You in, now!?!?!


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 new 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 healthy, balanced, nutritious meals this way! Yes folks, you've heard it here first! Woo hoo! Such trend-setters we are!

After filming and posting my very first official shelf cooking video, you Freebs came up with a way better hashy so it's now #Shelftember! Use it and love it, folks!


First of all, we have some exciting news to share! We've just launched a brand new site complete dedicated to Shelf Cooking – the art of cooking from your pantry to provide delicious, nutritious meals all while sticking to a budget! We're going to be diving in and sharing some incredible recipes, inspirational ways to use your leftovers, creative ways to stick to your grocery budget, awesome kitchen hacks and so much more.

To learn more about shelf cooking, join the challenge from Fun Cheap or Free

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 $25/week in fresh groceries and consumables, and otherwise make our meals based around what I have on-hand!

I understand that $25 is very tight for some. I want this to be hard, but realistic. If you absolutely can't do $25/week, feel free to go up to $50 – but to make it a challenge, you really can't exceed $50/week that. To keep to that amount, I recommend pulling out $25 cash from the bank every Monday, 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 $25 limit.

Use this list HERE 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??


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 its done!


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!


In order to successfully decrease the amount of time you spend in the kitchen, be smart and use the time your 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 lunch time.


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!


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!

For our mini challenge this week, establish a weekly leftover night that allows you to use up all those leftovers in the fridge!


Take this family date to the next level by using ingredients from your pantry to create a fun family dessert! MMmmmm. Make sure to share what you create on social media with the #Shelftember hashtag! We want to see your yummy creations!


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!


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 the video above for TONS of ideas.

Keep tabs on this blog, my YouTube channelFacebook, and especially Instagram. I will be sharing DAILY tips about how we are making this challenge manageable. And don't forget about our brand new site – you've GOT TO check out

Join me by posting your pictures on FB or IG, using #Shelftember to enter to win a freezer!


If you scrolled all the way through this ginormous post, you deserve to be entered into our #Shelftember giveaway! Kudos to you!

At the end of the month, we're giving away a deep freezer! Log in and enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget that posting on social media using the #Shelftember gives you extra entries and you can post daily! We'd love to see how the shelf cooking challenge is going for you.

Check out these posts for more tips on getting started with your shelf cooking challenge:

Happy shelf cooking!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free


  1. AvatarSarah says

    I wish I could purchase a planner with your block schedule for productivity and meal planning inventory and calendar in it already. I don’t have a printer and having everything all in one place would be amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and tips, they have literally changed my life!!!

  2. AvatarJenna says

    Jordan, I have been following you for forever now and I have got my mom on the #freebs train!!!! Our deep freezer recently broke while we were in some financial trouble… perfect timing, I know ?. So I would LOVE to win this freezer for my parents so they don’t have to worry about getting a new one. I know you can live without, but we do a lot of freezer meals and meat, so we can’t live without. Thank you for all you’ve done to help our family. Congrats on the babies. I was praying for twins ❤️❤️

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      That’s so fun to hear that you’ve gotten your mom onboard! I hate that your freezer broke, that’s the worst! Make sure that you follow the instructions in the post so that you can get entered to win in the freezer giveaway! Good luck! 🙂

  3. AvatarStephanie Martindale says

    I don’t know which one I’m excited about more… That it’s shelf cooking month, or that you started the shelf cooking web page!!

  4. AvatarAlicia says

    Oh man girl, here I am thinking that $700 a month for all of our groceries and consumables would be a good stretch goal and now I see this!! ??? Years ago I had a little blog called real life food storage where I chronicled our adventures using up things like wheat and beans, canning applesauce and the like, so I definitely have some things I can tap into there, but we also spend $60/week on fresh produce alone!

    And with total love and respect, I have to ask, can you really do this pregnant? I always say I have to bump up my grocery budget at the beginning of a pregnancy because I just need a little more convenience food!!!

    I have to say, nearly every budgeting, money saving article I’ve read hasn’t been much help—we were already doing most everything three! That is until I found Jordyn! Now I’ve actually found some super helpful tips! Thanks girl!!

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      This month is alllll about using up what you have, so definitely try it out! If you can’t go without fresh produce, try only shopping for what’s on sale and in season and see if that helps you out! Doing this pregnant is definitely hard. It is definitely hard doing this pregnant, but I barely want to eat anything anyways because nothing sounds good, haha! I’m glad to hear that you’re loving all of my tips! I’ve definitely worked hard to make them work for everybody! 🙂

  5. AvatarCheryl Walker says

    Hi! I think there is supposed to be a link in there to a meal planning sheet, but it’s not clickable/showing up! 🙂 Thanks for all the tips!

  6. AvatarSkyla says

    Hi i love this idea but i’m i doing it wrong. My doctor has told me due to my medical history until things improve i can only eat turkey chicken fish and veg no red meat no processed and most dairy so for myself ( not including hubby and teens) we roasted a large chicken and instead of making a 2nd meal from that then a 3rd from the 2nd. Meal 1 was roast chicken then using what was left it was divided up to make chicken tikka masala , a Sweet and Sour chicken and then chicken pasta salad. all using what i already had. P.s love this website and just joined your Facebook shelf cooking community following from UK

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      You’re not doing it wrong, you’re just doing it the way that it works best for YOU! The key to shelf cooking is to use up whatever food items that you have on hand. You did great by turning your roasted chicken into 3 different meals using things that you already had!

  7. AvatarLisa says


    The link for the fridge, freezer and pantry inventory checklist isn’t clickable. HELP, I really want to use these.

    Thank you

  8. AvatarAmber-Brooke says

    I pretty much shelf cook all the time whenever I go to the grocery store I see what’s in my pantry and fridge and use that as dinner inspo, So at the end of the week my pantry looks like Old Mother Hubbards’ LOL

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      Haha, I feel you on that! The only reason that mine doesn’t look bare all the time is because I stock up when things are on sale or when I have some room in my budget to get a few extra things 🙂

  9. AvatarMichelle says

    Since I didn’t really check out the “fun cheap or free” website until this month, I decided to try the shelf-cooking in October. Gotta start sometime, am I right? I have also been binge watching the Food Network GO lately, I think I may like this as I am trying to make different stuff I have never made before. Yesterday I made banana bread using bananas that I would have normally thrown out. Turned out well if I must say so myself. I also managed to stretch out two chicken breasts into 3+ meals: (we don’t eat much at any given time) Anyway, Meal 1: roasted chicken with Salad; Meal 2: Chicken Salad Sandwiches; Meal 3: Chicken Pot Pie (I made chicken pot pie pockets with the rest)…This was my first time making the pie crust from scratch! It turned out well my family liked both the banana bread and the pie crust. Thank you Food Network App! Now all I gotta do is keep it up,

    • AvatarFun Cheap or Free says

      That’s so great! I love to hear how you’re stretching meals and using things that you wouldn’t normally, that’s what shelf cooking is all about. Keep up the good work! 🙂

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