The Shelftember challenge has been one of our favorite annual traditions, and it’s a guaranteed way to get your grocery budget back on track! Here’s your how-to guide to join us this month – and there might even be some fun surprises included!
WHAT IS SHELFTEMBER?
Every September, we issue a challenge to Freebs Nation. This is our seventh year publicly hosting Shelftember! We’re going to break down the details in this blog post, and even share some tips from Freebs who are Shelftember veterans. Here’s a past Shelftember YouTube video where you can walk through the meal planning process with Jordan during this challenge!
For the month of September, your grocery budget is $75/week for the whole family. Yes, that is probably much lower than you're used to, even if you're sticking to our recommended grocery budget. If we can do this with a family of 10, then so can you! Shop your own fridge, freezer and pantry FIRST! Focus on using what you have and using the grocery store to supplement areas you might be lacking in.
Since it may be hard to stick to this Shelftember challenge budget, it may be a good idea for you to take $75 cash out before heading to the store! Leave your credit cards in the car so there's no temptation to go over the budget.
Sometimes it takes a little creativity, scrimping and sacrificing a gourmet meal, but it’s definitely possible!
Shelftember is what we like to call a “juice cleanse for your grocery budget.” It’s not necessarily something meant to be long-term sustainable, but it’s a solution to help get some money back in your pocket and reign in your spending habits.
This last year we've all seen inflation do a number on our grocery budgets, so while in the past we have stayed between $25-$50 per week, this year we are getting a little more lenient with a $75 per week budget. We're all feeling the pinch and doing our best, which is why we love budgeting and keeping our habits in check with the Shelftember challenge.
Shelf cooking is planning meals around what you already have first.
Random stuff in your freezer? The stuff shoved in the back of your pantry? The half-empty bottles in the door of your fridge?
DO SOMETHING WITH THEM! You can make meals a lot easier than you think.
SHELFTEMBER TIPS & TRICKS
- Start by taking inventory of your kitchen – pantry, fridge and freezer. There are bound to be plenty of items you totally forgot existed that you can incorporate into your September meal plan.
- While taking inventory, keep an eye on expiration dates and prioritize anything that’s nearing expiration.
- When meal planning, especially towards the end of the month when the bulk of your good protein and grains are getting low, focus on frugal meal planning. This isn’t the month to be savoring king crab legs and truffle fries.
- Think through substitutions. Don’t go to the store for one or two missing ingredients from a recipe; find ways to make them from scratch, make an alternative, or do without!
- It's going to make you focus extremely hard on what you're buying at the store to supplement for the month! This isn't the month to stock up on kitchen staples. It's the month to really focus on what you already have.
- Keep your eye on the prize: It's going to save you some major money for the month! You'll be able to put the money you save toward paying off debt, your financial goals, the holidays, or placed in your slush fund account. It's totally worth it for this reason, alone!
- It'll help you get really creative with your meals! Double and freeze for later in the month or repurpose those leftovers into a new meal for later in the week.
- You'll have the support of over 33 THOUSAND members in the Shelf Cooking Community! They are a wealth of knowledge, and even we are always learning new things from our community.
FREEBS COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE: YOUR BEST SHELFTEMBER MOMENTS
The Freebs Community Collective is a weekly series where we share life hacks, tips, advice, favorites and recommendations on a topic of your choice. Each Monday, we share the topic of the week over on Instagram (follow here!) for you to submit your answers! As always, we will share your responses as well as Jordan Page's and the entire Page Company team's responses. Come back every week to join the fun!
This week, we asked the Freebs Community for your Shelftember tips and tricks! Here’s what you shared:
- Make sure you write out your weekly menu, so you’re not tempted to get fast food last minute!
- Consider trading foods with neighbors for some of the ingredients you are lacking.
- My go-to Shelftember dinner meals revolve around spaghetti and chili variations.
- It’s totally okay to eat sandwiches for dinner!
- Hit up your deep freezer FIRST while the momentum of the challenge is most exciting because that’s your oldest food.
- I like making casseroles and frittatas, where a little bit of a few different ingredients goes a long way!
- I look forward to this challenge to clean out my freezer so that I can restock with newer foods.
- Don’t forget to lean on the Shelf Cooking community group on Facebook for advice and ideas!
- Try treating it like you're on an episode of Chopped when you're feeling your motivation start to dip!
- Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach, and avoid impulse buys.
SHELF COOKING 101 CAN HELP!
Don't forget to check out Shelf Cooking 101 – so much more than a cookbook! Hundreds of pages on how to substitute ingredients you might be missing, how to store food to last longer, creative ways to repurpose leftovers, the best tips for freezing nearly everything and so much more!
HAPPY SHELFTEMBER! Let us know in the comments below how you're doing with this challenge!