Buying Long lasting, Low-Cost Groceries While on Food Stamps in Florida

While providing a great help to low-income families, SNAP benefits are limited and only distributed once every month. Florida SNAP beneficiaries need to master budgeting and planning to make sure food stamps can feed their household for the entire month. Here are a few tips to help make your SNAP benefits last.

Planning: Planning your meals while on food stamps in Florida is not only a great way to make healthy food choices, it can also make your household’s Florida SNAP benefits last longer. For example, you can plan a few meals that share overlapping ingredients. Taking this approach will ensure that your fresh grocery items get used before they expire.

To stretch your SNAP benefits even further, consider making larger portion meals, like spaghetti and meatballs, that make for great microwaveable leftovers. You can also try freezing leftover soups and stews for easy re-heating anytime.

Before hitting the grocery store, check to see what you already have at home. Think about your favorite recipes or research recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand.

Use coupons, get store discount cards and look out for sales: You can find coupons and sale announcements in the newspaper, mailbox, on the internet and in stores. Many stores will also match competitors’ coupons. A free store membership or discount card can help you save money as well.

Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables: Buying fruits and vegetables that are currently in season can help extend your monthly Florida SNAP benefits. In season fruits and vegetables cost less for farmers to produce, and therefore are cheaper for you to purchase. As an added bonus, produce tastes much better when in season.

Seasonal fruits are available at many kinds of SNAP-approved retailers, but a SNAP-approved farmer’s market will be an especially great place to find variety and deals. Here are just a few examples of seasonal fruits and vegetables to demonstrate the variety available every season:

  • Winter: brussels sprouts, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, pears, potatoes and yams
  • Spring: apricots, broccoli, greens, lettuce, mushrooms, peas and strawberries
  • Summer: bell peppers, blueberries, cherries, corn, lima beans, mangos and tomatoes
  • Fall: cauliflower, grapes, kale, radishes, raspberries, spinach and sweet potatoes

Some items, like apples, bananas, carrots and celery, are always in season, while others, such as cabbage, collard greens, garlic, onions, pineapple and turnips are in season during three different seasons.

Try store-brand items: Store-brand items cost less, but they often have the same ingredients as brand-name items. You’ll notice a price difference between name-brand and store-brand items like canned fruits and vegetables, but you won’t notice a difference in taste.

Buy in bulk and separate portions yourself: Generally,larger-sized products have lower unit prices than smaller ones. Even though you may be paying more up front for bulk items, you will get more value for your Florida food stamps. You can find the unit price listed right next to the regular retail price that appears on the grocery shelf below a product. While the retail price tells you how much the item costs in total, the unit price lets you know how much the item costs per ounce, quart, pound or a similar measurement. This unit price allows you to effectively compare the price of different sized items.

Rather than buying yogurt in small cups, you can buy a large container of yogurt and split it up into your own plastic containers to grab on the go. Likewise, you can wash, cut, and divide a large bag of carrots into small bags instead of buying more expensive carrots that come pre-washed in individually wrapped packages.

When buying a large container of an item that spoils quickly, like dairy, be sure that your household will eat the product before it goes bad. Ultra-pasteurized dairy products last longer than others.

When possible, you should always buy bulk versions of non-perishable food items like dried beans, dried peas, rice and oatmeal. Keep these items in a tightly-sealed container to preserve their freshness and prevent insect infestation. You can also buy bulk versions of freeze-able items like meats, breads and vegetables.

Keep a garden: You can use Florida food stamps to purchase seeds and plants for growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs. If properly taken care of, a garden – or even just a few srpouts in pots - can be a very low-cost way to produce super fresh foods for your household. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are particularly easy for new gardeners to grow.

Stretching your SNAP benefits can be a challenge, but the Florida SNAP program also provides cost-free education on low-cost shopping.

What Is the Florida Food Stamp Program?

The Florida Food Stamps Program, also known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, provides low-income individuals and families with funds to obtain groceries. A wide variety of foods are covered under this programs guidelines, from various types of meat to fruits and vegetables. However, certain items cannot be purchased with food stamp benefits. Find out which foods you can and cannot buy through the SNAP program by downloading our guide.

Can Anyone Get Food Stamps in Florida?

There are various eligibility requirements Florida applicants must meet in order to obtain SNAP benefits. These qualifications include income requirements, resource requirements and more. To find out if you or your family is eligible to receive food assistance in Florida, click here to download our comprehensive Food Stamps Guide.