Christine is sharing tips for how to stretch your SNAP and WIC budget to buy more groceries.
A tight food budget is really hard to handle and can cause a lot of stress. Many people on SNAP (formally known as Food Stamps) also get WIC and this can help quite a bit. While it can almost seem impossible to get through a month of meals even with these helpful programs, with a lot of planning, you can ease your mind a lot. Here are some tips to help you get the most food for your small budget.
How to Stretch Your SNAP and WIC Budget
Coupon. You can get quite a bit for free or nearly free with couponing and while it does take some definite planning, it is well worth it in the end. Make sure you check out my other post on couponing with SNAP to get the most out of them with the program.
Visit a local food bank, first. It seems a bit strange to visit a local food bank before you are completely out of food, but one way I was able to stretch our budget when I was on the program was to do just that. The idea is, you get what you can from the food bank and use your benefits to build meals from the bits and pieces they give you. For instance, let's say you get canned beans, tomato sauce and some crackers from the food bank. Use your WIC benefits to buy cheese and your SNAP to buy some ground meat and seasonings and you have chilli.
Don't buy WIC foods with your SNAP benefits. One reason people often do this is because they don't know what they are allowed to get on WIC exactly because the WIC checks are kind of vague. Check with your local WIC office to inquire what exactly you can purchase with WIC in order to not make this mistake.
Plan your meals around sales and what you already have in your cupboard. One way to make your food budget stretch further is to not let anything go to waste. Have a plan in mind for leftovers you may have from meals. Look at local grocery store ads to see what is on sale that week and get those items for meals. Use these tips to create meal plans that will help you save money and reduce food waste.
Have breakfast for dinner on occasion. Making things like pancakes and waffles is a lot cheaper than making a meal with meat as the star of it. Just doing this once a week can really help your budget. Another way you can help your budget and get your food stamps to stretch further is to have a meat free meal every week. Many of the meals people already like are meat free without anyone really noticing. Try doing meat free spaghetti for instance.
Supplement your meat in meals. Since canned beans or dry beans are often included on many WIC checks, use them to stretch your meat in recipes further. For instance, if you mash them up, you can add them to ground beef or turkey and get twice as much filling for enchiladas. Go meatless a few meals a week. Here are some frugal meatless meals.
Stop buying convenience foods. These are expensive and while they may be quick, they are often not healthy and you will pay more for them in the end than if you just made these items yourself.
Buy staples in bulk. Things like rice, dried beans, seasonings and baking supplies are often cheaper if bought in bulk. You can save so much money by not buying these items in the package as you are often just paying for a brand name and the actual packaging.
What are some ways you stretch your SNAP and WIC budget? I would love to hear about it in the comments!