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Jordan Page has made a living showing people how to make things fun, cheap or free! She's a frugal expert and her new book, Shelf Cooking 101, focuses on how to save money in the kitchen. 

If you're new to the concept of shelf cooking, Jordan explains that it's cooking with what you already have in your pantry and fridge as opposed to going shopping first. "Most people find a recipe first and then go and shop for the ingredients," she says. "Shelf cooking is about taking inventory of what you have and creating a recipe from that. Not only is it a huge money saver, it also reduces waste, teaches you how to cook from scratch, is healthier and teaches your kids really good habits." 

This beef, bean and corn tamale casserole from the book is a crowd-pleaser in her house. "It's the yummy, savory corn appeal of tamales, but way easier," she says. "Plus, it uses ingredients you're likely to already have on hand." Serve it with chips and rice, or even over salad. 

For more budget-friendly recipes, check out Rach's Tuna Casserole and Chicken Casserole Dinner


  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup corn (frozen or canned), drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
For the Topping:
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Sour cream


Serves: Makes one 8 x 8-inch casserole


Preheat oven to 375°F. 

In a medium pan over medium heat, brown ground beef. Add onions, stir, and cook until onions are soft. Stir in spaghetti sauce, corn, kidney and black beans, salt, and taco seasoning. Add water and stir. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. 

Add the cheese; stir until melted. Pour into a greased 8 × 8-inch baking dish or pan that can go in the oven. 

For the topping, in a small saucepan, combine water, salt, and cornmeal. Stir. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until thick. (Watch carefully, so it doesn't burn.) Remove from heat and stir in butter. 

Spread cornmeal mixture evenly on top of casserole. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serve immediately topped with dollops of sour cream. 

Excerpted from Shelf Cooking 101 by Jordan Page. Copyright © 2023 by Jordan Page. Used with permission by The Page Company, LLC. All rights reserved.