Food Stamps

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Being on food stamps is supposed to supplement a person’s weekly grocery budget, but often times, it still doesn’t go far enough. Going without food isn’t really an option the way canceling cable or turning the thermostat down is, but a few handy tips can make food stamps go a little bit further than before.

Swamp Soup

This meal idea is so called because, like a swamp, it has a bit of everything in it and doesn’t look the same twice. You can put just about anything you want in it—it’s sort of like the ground beef or bran muffins of the soup world—but there are a few base elements that usually go in to Swamp Soup.

Add tomato sauce or tomato soup to give it a slightly liquidy consistency and a bit of coloring. After that, protein- and fiber-rich foods should get added: lentils, pot barley, potatoes, green beans, peas, chickpeas, rice, or ground beef. It’s a hearty soup that lasts days and days, and only costs a few dollars to make (price: about 50 cents a bowl).

Beef Roast

Buying beef on food stamps can seem like an awful lot of money to spend on one item, but it doesn’t have to be. We'll share a few old butcher tips, the know that the best beef deals (in terms of cost, balanced with yield) are:

  • Boneless blade roast, slow roasted at 250F for a couple hours

  • Inside round roast if families prefer a lean, inexpensive cut

  • Boneless chuck braised or slow roasted with plenty of liquids covering it

  • Brisket that’s tenderized in brine, and then slow cooked at low heat

  • Other Meats

    Beef doesn’t have to be the only choice for meat in a family, with these other options also providing a cost-yield purchase:

     

  • Pork: Think butt or shoulder roasts (ask the butcher to slice the rind off) and slow cook them; center or rib roasts for something more tender and juicy; (boneless) blade roasts that are slow-cooked; and side ribs instead of back ribs.

  • Fowl: Whole chickens or turkeys can be bought for incredibly cheap, and make lasting meals that can be redone into a variety of leftovers.

  • Fish: Stay away from fresh filets and steaks, and opt for tinned tuna/salmon and frozen whole sides of fish instead. The price is a lot lower, and the protein isn’t going anywhere.

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    Spaghetti

    Using pasta and tomato sauce as your base, there are dozens of different ways to make spaghetti. Play around with spices, different ground meats, and vegetables to add a new twist to a favorite dish. But wait until pasta and tomato sauce go on sale to really save money, and then buy in bulk. And if you grow your own herbs inside, like basil, dill, oregano, and parsley, you can make the spaghetti really taste for even less money.

    Pizza

    Unless you’re skilled at making flour turn into dough, it’s usually a better bet to just buy premade dough. But after that, well after that, anything goes. You can add tomato sauce or olive oil as the base, sprinkle it with cheese or go without, add or remove as many vegetables as you want, and make the crush as thin or thick as you’d like. The best part about pizza, though—besides its low cost to make—is how little time it takes to prepare (under half an hour, including baking time). Just remember to preheat your oven before you start on the ingredients.