The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program that gives benefits to low-income individuals and families, enabling them to purchase food at retailers nationwide. Though the specific benefits vary from state to state, in general, to be eligible, a household’s income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. For a family of three, that’s around $1,830 a month or less.
While SNAP benefits provide much needed food assistance, inflation is driving up the cost of groceries and services exorbitantly right now, impacting folks on SNAP benefits more than the average household. Here we talk to some experts about how to make the most of your SNAP benefits.
1. Buy Seeds or Seedlings
One way to stretch your SNAP benefits is to use them to buy food-growing seeds or plants that produce food, suggests Gerrid Smith, Director of E-commerce of Joy Organics. “This is allowed under the program’s guidelines and has the ability to stretch your budget quite a little further than it would go in any other case. This is an excellent start toward establishing food sovereignty, and it has the potential to be the most lucrative investment option that is now accessible.”
2. Make a Shopping List
Shopping intentionally, rather than on impulse, by making a shopping list, “will allow you to buy only what you require and avoid overspending at the store,” says Ricardo Pina, a money expert and founder of The Modest Wallet. “To determine how much is in your basket, you may use the shopping list tool in Fresh EBT — adding prices of things as you add items to your cart — or you can use the calculator app on your phone.”
3. Look for Specials on Meat
If your household includes a lot of meat as a staple, “Look for the manager’s specials on meat,” says Caleb Chen, a financial preparedness advocate at Am I Prepped? Additionally, he urges, “Avoid beef, buy pork and chicken. Specifically, 10-pound bags of chicken quarters which have raised in price by [more than] 15% but are still well under $1 per pound around the country.”
4. Find Walmart’s Clearance Items
Chen says that Walmart, already a low-cost place to shop, “always has their clearance shelves located near the dairy section.”
5. Don’t Forget Costco
Costco may not be the first retailer you think about if you’re using SNAP benefits, but according to Chen, they take EBT and you can get discounts on food in bulk, saving money.
6. Avoid Small, Individually Wrapped Items
According to Provider.com, items that come individually wrapped are often more expensive. Instead, they recommend you buy larger packages of food items and wrap them yourself. If the food might expire soon, consider freezing what you can’t use immediately for later use.
7. Skip the Meats, Love Legumes
While meats are tasty and full of protein, they’re also just more expensive and don’t go as far as some other non-meat forms of protein, such as legumes and beans. Provider.com recommends you invest in bags of lentils and other legumes, which make huge batches for less cost and provide you healthy proteins to boot.
8. Compare Prices
Just because you may be used to shopping at one store, don’t assume you’re getting the best prices. According to the blog SlapDashMom, she recommends you compare prices at the key grocery stores that you are inclined to shop from before committing to a purchase.
9. Shop Once a Week
If you shop only once a month, according to SlapDashMom, you may be buying all your food at full price. Instead, the blogger recommends you shop around once a week or so, which allows you to find and take advantage of more sales.
10. Take Advantage of Double Dollars at Farmers’ Markets
“Programs at farmers’ markets across the country are designed to encourage those who rely on food stamps to purchase fresh, healthful foods from local farmers,” says Matt Weidle, business development manager of Buyer’s Guide.
“Double Dollars and Double Your Food Bucks are two names for these initiatives. In most cases, you’ll need to bring your SNAP card with you to the market’s information booth. After determining how much money is available, booth employees will swipe your credit or debit card in order to complete the transaction. After that, you’ll get twice as many food tokens to spend.”
11. Look for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
For Seniors using SNAP, you should be provided with a coupon booklet giving discounts on fresh fruits and veggies, as well as honey and herbs. Many farmers’ markets and outdoor veggie stands accept these coupons, according to the National Council on Aging. Check the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website to find locations in your state.
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