In light of recent news that there will be federal food stamp program cuts, millions of Americans are getting ready to cope
with less money to spend on groceries. For food stamp recipients and their
families, just getting by on a paltry monthly food budget is difficult enough,
but, despite the cuts, thriving on food stamps is possible as long as you’re
open to alternative ways of stocking your pantry.
In wake of the economic recession, more and more stores are
offering deals, either to customers who sign up for their loyalty program (if
your local store offers one, join it) or anyone who shops there. To stretch
your dollars even further—assuming you’re not like the lucky Louisiana food stamp recipients who temporarily had an unlimited balance on their EBT
cards due to a glitch in the system—consider changing some of your habits, like
eating more canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, buying generic brands, and buying
more items in bulk.
You might have seen “Extreme Couponing” on TLC before. You
know, where people spend hours each week, clipping newspaper coupons and
spending a few dollars for hundreds of dollars’ worth of items when they
finally go shopping. Even if this “extreme” aspect doesn’t sound too appealing,
investing more time in coupon clipping could greatly reduce your overall food
expenses each month. There are millions of coupons out there: in newspaper ads,
websites like SumoCoupon, and there
are even dozens of smartphone apps that let you use digital coupons while
checking out at the store.
Organizing potlucks with friends, family, or neighbors is
another way to reduce the cost of food while adding variety to your diet. Not
only will buying in bulk (to make enough food for everyone) save you money, but
you also might have leftovers to cover a few meals for your family.
Grow Your Own Food
Although winter is approaching, growing your own produce is
possible year-round in many areas. It may involve an initial investment of
pots, soil, and seeds, but with the cost of fresh (not to mention organic) food
on the rise, you could save quite a bundle on produce over time.
Food banks and churches are always busy around November, but
this year is expected to be especially busy with the food stamp cuts and
continuing economic woes. Don’t let this deter you, however. There seems to be
a social stigma against accepting free food, but your family’s nutritional
needs come first, so be on the lookout for other opportunities for free food,
such as church or community events, free samples, fast food promotions and
Did you know that Americans throw out approximately 40% of
the food we buy every year? This equates to nearly $165 billion worth of wasted food. With this startling statistic in mind, some
frugal, anti-consumerist people have taken up something called “freeganism” in
which they look for uneaten food and use it to feed their own families. While
we’re not going to recommend scavenging through neighbors’ stockpiles of tossed
food, dumpster diving is not the only way to embrace the freeganist lifestyle.
You could barter or share food with friends and neighbors, as well as check
grocery stores for food they’re throwing out after the day’s end (they can’t
ethically or legally sell expired food). It’s definitely not for everyone, but
worth considering if food stamps aren’t doing enough for your grocery budget.
Kelly Kehoe is a staff writer for Money Street Smart and works with SumoCoupon.com, a site full coupons and coupon codes.