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By Thea Theresa English

How to spend your SNAP benefits wisely

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an initiative from the federal government that distributes funds to needy families through the states' social service departments. There is a requirement to present proof of income, number of persons in your household and other documentation before your case is processed and before you can receive benefits. The amount in SNAP benefits you get depends on your income level and the number of people in your household. For unemployed recipients of benefits, there is a three-month limit after which your benefits might end until you are working again. Here are some tips on spending SNAP benefits wisely:

Stock up on the healthier foods

If you see certain fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods on sale, use your SNAP benefits to buy these items in bulk so that you will have adequate healthy foods instead of excess unhealthy foods in the pantry.

Take inventory of your pantry

Since you only get SNAP benefits once a month, you should look over your pantry and take inventory so that you are not buying foods that you already have. Once you do this, write a list of foods you need more of and purchase these with your SNAP benefits. Buy miscellaneous groceries with your own income.

Ration out the spending

When you receive the SNAP benefits each month, it is not wise to spend all of the funds in one shopping trip. Instead purchase just enough groceries for one to two weeks, and prepare meals that you can freeze and serve at another time. This makes your SNAP benefits last longer and you'll have extra for the lean times.

Only buy sale items and create meals with those

Another way to get the most out of your food stamps is to only purchase what is on sale and then get creative by preparing meals with those. This helps you conserve benefits for the month, and you become a better cook in the process.

Purchase the most economical foods

By doing this you spend your SNAP benefits more wisely. Some good economical foods include rice, beans, eggs, chicken, pork chops, canned vegetables, and store brand foods. Buy these in bulk and you will still have enough to last through the next round of benefits.

Don't cook too much food

Another way to make the benefits last is to not cook more food than you will eat. Only cook for the number of days you expect to eat the meals, because if food goes bad you will need to spend more benefits unnecessarily to replace that food. If you live alone, modify recipes so that you will not waste food.

Compare prices at stores

Some supermarkets are cheaper than others and you can compare prices at different stores to determine which place has the best prices and weekly sales. Once you find these stores, shop at them regularly.

SNAP benefits help you get the nutritious food you need, and with the above-mentioned steps you can maximize these benefits and have an adequate food supply each month.

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