You already know that using coupons, shopping sales, and trying to get the best deal on food is a great way to make your SNAP benefits stretch. You may also know that stocking up on foods and using proper storage methods will help you create a pantry of food for 3 to 5 years ahead, allowing you to get off of SNAP eventually. What you may not know is how to stock up properly using SNAP benefits and a combination of other methods.
The first step in building your pantry with SNAP is to use what you have. This means you need to use whatever is available such as coupons, store sales, specials, and even food banks and kitchens. Whatever food options and benefits are available to you, use them and maximize them. If you know your local store is having a BOGO sale, then take the opportunity to stock up on that item. Use one for the month and put the other in the pantry. If you have a coupon that takes half off an item use that. If you can combine that coupon with a store coupon and make the item free then get that item and get another one. It comes out the same as if you were getting the item as a BOGO promotion. Use store coupons, sales days, clearances, and store rewards.
You want to make sure that you are using proper food storage methods. This means different things for different foods. The key to proper storage is time. Make sure that you are using foods and other items before the expiry date. Make sure you are storing the foods and items with the earliest expiration date first so it is used first. If the item is frozen, make sure it is sealed and stored properly. If the item is canned at home, make sure you used proper sterilizing procedures and the food is being stored in a cool dry place.
When you are on SNAP every penny of your benefits count. You are on a tight budget and you don’t want to waste any food or buy food that is not going to be eaten. When you are using your SNAP benefits to cover not only the food for the month, but also food to go in the pantry, you want to make sure you are using the same logic. Buy and store foods that your family will actually eat. Yes, beans and rice is cheap and filling. However, if your family hates beans and rice and won’t eat it then you aren’t helping yourself or them by buying it or storing it.
Stocking up on food is viewed by some as a crazy endeavor. However, if you think of it as providing for your family then it isn’t crazy at all. Use sales, BOGO events, clearances, bulk stores, coupons, and anything else at your disposal. Stock up on items throughout the year and you will quickly see the light at the end of the SNAP tunnel.