If you are one of the millions of people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to help you purchase the food you need for good health, you likely want to make your monthly allotment stretch as far as it can.
While hundreds of thousands of retailers accept SNAP benefits, some of them offer better prices than others. For instance, convenience stores often accept SNAP benefits, but you’ll have a much more limited selection of items and often pay higher prices if you shop there.
Out of the 248,000 retailers across the nation that participate in SNAP, here are some of the ones that have proven to be the most budget-friendly.
According to “Dunnhumby’s 2020 Retailer Preference Index: U.S. Grocery Channel Edition,” German grocery chain Aldi ranks No. 1 for the cheapest grocery store, which means your SNAP benefits will stretch further. The chain has rock-bottom prices that often beat Walmart’s. While it does not offer as wide of a selection as larger grocery stores, you can find the basics and even some specialty items.
Aldi is able to keep prices low because of its practices. For example, it requires customers to leave a quarter deposit to use a grocery cart, which cuts down on theft and employees having to retrieve carts from the parking lot.
Additionally, checkers do not bag groceries, which reduces labor. Customers are expected to bag the items themselves in another area of the store, but the bags aren’t free. Aldi also has streamlined employee labor in other areas, including stocking, which means it needs fewer employees.
While customers are required to pay at least $60 for an annual membership at Costco, the investment can easily pay off due to the savings you can reap there. Plus, Costco accepts SNAP benefits.
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Costco is able to keep its prices low for a variety of reasons. For example, Costco stocks a limited selection of inventory — about 4,000 products compared to the 30,000 products a grocery store typically stocks. Even so, you can buy basics such as dairy, eggs, meat, produce, canned goods and paper goods — some of which are Kirkland Signature, the warehouse’s private-label brand that rivals national brands, often at a lower cost.
Costco also has the ability to buy in bulk, which allows it to pass on the savings to customers. And it offers employees a higher level of pay than its competitors do and an attractive benefits plan, which reduces turnover and employee theft — two things that can eat into a company’s bottom line.
While there are some products you might want to avoid at Dollar General, the store does accept SNAP and is budget-friendly. You can typically find products at Dollar General that sell for 20% to 40% cheaper than at grocery stores and drugstores.
To keep costs low, Dollar General states on its website that you won’t find every brand, just the most popular ones, including its private label brand Clover Valley. Among the products Dollar General sells are household cleaners, paper goods, canned foods and beverages, snack foods, dairy products and laundry detergent.
Dollar General also keeps its stores small in size and doesn’t need as many employees as larger stores, which helps it save money. Plus, it buys many of its limited number of products in bulk and passes savings on to its customers.
You’re likely to be within driving distance of a Walmart, which has 4,742 locations across the U.S. Walmart is well-known for its low prices, so there’s no doubt you can save. Some of the ways Walmart keeps its prices budget-friendly: It strives to keep operating costs low, it’s able to score huge wholesale discounts due to being the largest retailer in the world and it has a vast product selection, which allows it to be a one-stop shopping destination for many customers.
WinCo Foods is another grocery store chain that accepts SNAP benefits. It’s located largely in the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Like warehouse clubs, WinCo Foods buys many of its products in bulk, which helps customers save money. But, unlike warehouse clubs, it doesn’t charge a membership fee.
WinCo Foods keeps its prices low by spending as little as possible on advertising, not employing baggers and not accepting credit cards, which helps it avoid credit card processing fees.
At WinCo Foods, you can find all of the standard products you’d expect to find at a grocery store, with many items labeled with green price tags signifying extra savings.
Ways To Make the Most of Your SNAP Benefits and Budget When Shopping
Finding a budget-friendly store where you can use your SNAP benefits definitely will help you save. However, you can save even more (and fill your cart with additional nutritious items) if you use these smart shopping tips from the United States Department of Agriculture the next time you buy groceries.
- Buy in-season produce because it’s cheaper; buy only what you can use before it spoils.
- Rice and pasta are budget-friendly examples of grains.
- Buy family-size value packs of lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, and freeze what you don’t use.
- Beans, peas and lentils are another low-cost way to provide your family with protein.
- Always check the “sell-by” date of dairy products to make sure you’re buying the freshest items possible.
- Skip aisles that feature items such as chips and cookies, which are high in sugar, sodium and fat but low in nutritional value.
- When considering buying an item in larger quantities, always compare the unit price (not the retail price) of the same item in a smaller quantity to make sure you are getting a good deal.
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