Find Out About Expensive Foods to Avoid While on Food Stamps

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly referred to as food stamps, is a program that helps low-income individuals and families afford food at the grocery store. However, eating a healthy diet and living on a food stamps budget can be difficult for many families. In fact, many families on food stamps opt to purchase unhealthy foods that will last the month because food stamps are allotted every month. For example, six percent of food stamps purchases are spent on sugary drinks each year.

Processed foods are more popular when a grocer is shopping using food stamps because they last longer, and it is perceived that fresh, healthy foods cost more. However, even though it is difficult, it is possible to eat a healthy diet while on food stamps without breaking the bank. Start here by learning about the expensive foods residents should avoid while on food stamps, and some alternatives that will help families stay healthy.

Tip 1: Avoid Expensive Cuts of Meats

Overall, meat is one of the most expensive items at the grocery store, but individuals and families on food stamps do not need to avoid meats entirely in order to save money. One way to save money on meats is to compare the price per pound, especially with items such as beef. Another way is to purchase the cheaper types of meat, such as chicken or turkey. While protein is important in any meal, meat is not the only source. Remember, many fruits and vegetables are excellent protein substitutes, such as beans. Other inexpensive sources of protein include eggs, peanut butter, and whole grains. All legumes have high amounts of proteins and can be substituted for meats in a daily diet.

Tip 2: Avoid Brand-Name Products

Brand-name products are normally placed in the middle of the shelves because that is eye level for adults, so be sure to look around while at the grocery store. Finding generic brands will help save a lot of money in the checkout lane, and generic items are just as nutritious and healthy as the brand name foods. In fact, chefs have been known to purchase generic brand foods for restaurants.

Tip 3: Do Not Purchase Fruits and Vegetables Out of Season

Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more nutritious and have better prices when they are in season, so be sure to purchase only the fruits and vegetables that are in season in your state at the right times. If storage is a concern, be sure to store fresh fruits and vegetables in a refrigerator as soon as arriving home. If it is possible, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market and save money. Farmer’s markets can have better prices, and many of them are now accepting SNAP EBT cards.

In addition to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables in season, purchase canned or frozen vegetables when the fresh produce is not in season. The nutrition value of frozen and canned vegetables may be a little less than fresh, but not so much so that it justifies paying twice the amount for the same amount of fresh produce. Whenever one of these items is on sale, be sure to stock up on them. Lastly, if a fresh produce item is on sale and can be frozen at home, be sure to stock up during the time it is in season and freeze any extra. This can save even more money in the long run.

Lastly, when making a shopping list for fresh produce, be sure to plan for any leftovers being snacks or being part of another main dish. Oftentimes, a recipe will call for only a small amount of a specific produce item, and the leftovers are thrown away because they are forgotten and not used for another purpose. Eat the leftover head of cauliflower with some homemade dressing as a snack for the rest of the week, or steam it as a healthy side dish for dinner one night.

Tip 4: Do Not Purchase Refined Grains

It is tempting for shoppers on SNAP to purchase refined grains because these items seem cheaper. However, whole grains are much healthier for food stamp participants, and these items can be bought in a way that makes them the same or less costly than purchasing refined grains. For example, purchase whole grains in bulk when it is possible. Use brown rice, oats, and whole wheat pastas as these are healthier and more filling than refined grains. Substitute the expensive grains for the less expensive grains in recipes, such as substituting brown rice for wild rice or millet rather than quinoa.

Tip 5: Stop Purchasing Items That Can Be Made At Home

If the item can be found dried at the store or it is an item that can be made at home and frozen, then do not purchase it. For example, dried beans are less expensive per pound than canned beans, and they are more nutritious. Broth and stocks are easily made at home on the stove or in a slow cooker, and these are much less expensive when made at home and frozen in smaller quantities than purchasing the canned or boxed store versions. Salad dressings are simple to make and less expesive when made at home. Homemade granola cereals and bars are much less expensive than when purchased already made at the store. Wait for sales at the store and purchase the ingredients for these items in order to make them at home for a much lower price.