Expensive Foods to Avoid While on Food Stamps

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

Processed foods are more popular when a beneficiary is shopping using food stamps because they last longer and it is perceived that fresh and healthy foods cost more. Although it seems 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 Coloradoans should avoid while on food stamps and some alternatives that will help families stay healthy.

Avoid Expensive Cuts of Meat in Colorado

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 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. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent protein substitutes, such as beans. Additional 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.

Avoid Brand-Name Products in Colorado

Brand-name products are usually placed in the middle of the grocery store shelves because that is eye level for adults. 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 brand-name foods. In fact, chefs have been known to purchase generic brand foods for restaurants.

Do Not Purchase Fruits and Vegetables out of Season in Colorado

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

In addition to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables in season, purchase canned or frozen vegetables when fresh produce is not in season. The nutritional value of frozen and canned vegetables may be a bit less than fresh, but not enough to justify paying twice the amount for the same fresh produce. 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 as snacks or 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 a leftover head of cauliflower with homemade dressing as a snack for the rest of the week or steam it as a healthy side dish for dinner one night.

Do Not Purchase Refined Grains in Colorado

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. Purchase whole grains in bulk whenever possible. Use brown rice, oats and whole wheat pastas because they 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 for quinoa.

Stop Purchasing Items That Can Be Made at Home in Colorado

If an item can be found dried at the store or can be made at home and frozen, 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. They are much less expensive when made at home and frozen in smaller quantities than when canned or boxed store versions are purchased. Salad dressings are simple to make and less expesive when made at home. Homemade granola cereals and bars are much less expensive to make at home than to purchase 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.