The biggest pain
For anyone looking into getting food stamps, the biggest question people search for is “WHAT CAN I BUY?” The link included in that question will pretty much have to suffice, as the FDA made the guidelines (and those will require an act of Congress to change), and the pdf the FNS site provides is extremely lacking. It’s safe to say that the restrictions are pretty simply this:
- DO NOT attempt to buy from a restaurant
- DO NOT buy from the section of a store in which the store prepared the food items, hot OR cold (several food items were prepared hot and chill in the store for immediate consumption)
- DO NOT buy if there is a Supplement label instead of Nutrition label
- DO NOT attempt to buy alcohol, tobacco, or nonfood items
- If you have a question if you’re buying something ineligible, it’s better safe than sorry
- A store’s POS system will not always reject an ineligible purchase, as item codes vary between stores, so the responsibility lies on the buyer
The website information is run by the government, so it’s pretty easy to say it doesn’t update often. That said, the real difficulty is not being restricted, but being particular–find what fits with your household, your eating habits, and create something that works both at saving money and fulfilling your appetites.
It has been three weeks since the adventure started, and it has been worth it.
The first trip detailed in Part 1 was significant, and lasted for most of two weeks. Since then, grocery trips have been for maintenance of our household’s food groups:
- Tacos-more cheese/salsa/guac is always needed
- Sandwiches/Nutrition Bars-one package of deli meat or cheese lasts a week
- Yogurt Parfaits-need more fresh fruit/toppings each week
- Cereal-you don’t know how delicious Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes is
- Waffles/Pancakes-one package of mix can last a month, but need more syrup/topping
Not strictly healthy food options, but we go for the freshest, least processed options that we can for each meal. Since I am the sole cook in the household, and my partner is picky like a five-year-old (and has ridiculous cravings due to their chronic illness), this list of foods was what our supplies came to when looking at ease of cooking, amount of ingredients needed, and # of meals produced.
*The Foodstirs Chewy Oat Bar Mix was both tasty and provided a good formula for further nutrition bar creation. The mix was listed as making 16 bars, but I ended up making 12, which should still last through the week between myself and my partner.*
I did attempt a few veggie/fruit runs throughout this adventure, but a bunch of broccoli, a large bag of kale, and countless strawberries went bad too quickly, so my purchases have lacked in greenery after the first two weeks. We were gifted an air fryer about a week ago though, and have already made french fries and fried pickles (I know…but at least it’s not slathered in oil).
I did err on the side of caution and health by making the conscious choice to make one particular “fun” trip each week. As seen below, I got a large clearance bag of gummies and a Halo Top ice cream pint for each of us for the week. This eased the pain of having the same meal types throughout the week and was interesting to see where the value lies in groceries. The sweet items here were the cheapest per unit (the ice cream is usually $4 a piece, but got them 2 for $5). The Daiya “not cheese” sticks tasted all right, but were not worth the 6 sticks for $5.19 price tag-again, unfortunately proving vegan is not an option in this household.
With the SNAP food budget nearly gone, we’ll go over recipes, politics, and the data behind the purchases soon (I saved every receipt!) and explore what this month means for our future. Thanks for reading! If you love this, give it a FOLLOW for updates or SHARE anywhere you’d like!