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Ways to Save with SNAP Benfits (food stamps)

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Many people are misinformed about their ability to use coupons along with their SNAP (food stamp) benefits and some people do not know what exactly they can purchase.

Let’s start at the beginning.  If you want to know if you qualify for SNAP benefits you can check the official guidelines.

If  you have SNAP benefits you may not be fully aware of what you can actually purchase with your benefits.  This is the thing that surprises most people.

You can purchase these items with your SNAP benefits:

  • Breads and cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meats, fish and poultry
  • Dairy products
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat
  • Energy drinks with a nutritional label that are not marketed as a supplement
  • Edible pumpkins
  • Gift baskets that contain food and non-food items IF the price of the price of the food items included in the basket are more than 50% of the baskets price.  (Yes this does include some Easter Baskets)
  • Birthday and special occasion cakes as long as the price of the decorations on the cake do not exceed more than 50% of the price of the cake.
  • You can also purchase items from Schwann’s Delivery service

You have read that list correctly.  It is Spring and many people are planting their garden.  Take advantage of the fact that you can use your SNAP benefits to purchase seed and plants that produce food and start a garden.  You are still going to have to purchase the soil with cash.  Just think of the savings over the summer on fruits and vegetables if you have your own garden.  This would be a great time to stockpile some meat and other staples while you are not spending your SNAP benefits on those items.  I like to purchase extra meat towards the end of summer with my savings (you can leave the extra SNAP benefits on the card from month to month – you do not lose them)  This gives you the ability to have a greater variety of foods in your diet.

Also, many Farmer’s Markets also accept SNAP benefits as well.  Be sure to check with you local Farmer’s market to see if they are accepted there.

Sam’s Club takes SNAP benefits also.  I am unsure if BJ’s and Costco take SNAP benefits since we do nto have those clubs here in Oklahoma City.

Now with regards to coupons.  In The Food Stamp Training Guide for Retailers put out by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services on page thirteen (13) says:

If you accept in-store coupons from cash customers, you must also accept them from food stamp customers.  You must treat food stamp customers as you do cash customers.

This means you may use coupons on your purchases exactly as if you were paying cash for your purchase.  The ONLY snag in using coupons with SNAP benefits is that some stores may charge you tax on the savings you received.  For example if your city has an 8% tax and you used $1.00 worth of coupons you could end up owing $0.08 cash.  To me it is well worth it.  After a few trips you will know if your store will charge you tax on your savings.  It depends on the registers at the stores.  From personal experience I can tell you that even among the same store name in the same city there is a difference.

Remember if you return an item the store DOES have the ability to credit that purchase back to your SNAP benefit card just as if you had paid with a credit card and obtained a refund on your credit card.

Are there any other questions you have with regards to using SNAP benefits?  Feel free to ask me (Princess Karen) since I do receive SNAP benefits for myself and my children.  You may want to check this post frequently since I keep coming back to edit it with things I forgot!


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About the Author

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Karen is a Princess and is our Frugal Expert! Karen also works on CQ Charity Events and administrative details. Karen also writes for

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  • Belinda Gamboa via Facebook April 1, 2012, 7:52 PM

    Seeds! Who knew?

  • via Facebook April 1, 2012, 8:00 PM

    Exactly….when I was talking with Melissa the other day she told me she did not know that and I should do a post to let others know. There are some things that are not advertised. ~Princess Karen

  • Amanda Marsh via Facebook April 1, 2012, 8:50 PM

    Thank you very much! I never would have known that I could actually have a garden when money is so tight today and every penny is precious. Thank you!

  • via Facebook April 1, 2012, 9:00 PM

    Remember you cannot purchase soil with SNAP but you can the plants ~Princess Karen

  • Ana April 1, 2012, 9:13 PM

    I did not know you can purchase seeds n plants..i been contemplating doing a garden but the cost is what has stopped me..know i will move forward..thanks..also didnt know about the farmers markets either..there are a couple around will call to find out..thanks..

  • Amanda Marsh via Facebook April 1, 2012, 9:19 PM

    Yes but every little bit helps.

  • via Facebook April 2, 2012, 9:42 AM

    I updated it again ….I forgot something important!!

  • Jodi April 2, 2012, 10:29 AM

    I’m in AZ and we have both Sam’s club and Costco here. Both clubs to accept SNAP benefits. I use mine on occasion at Costco since that is where we have our membership.

  • Mary Yeager April 2, 2012, 4:31 PM

    I did not know Schwann’s took Snap! That’s great info! Thanks for this post!!

  • Bobbi December 18, 2012, 1:22 PM

    I was informed not sure how true but in WV if you receive SNAP you get free membership at Sams Club.

    • Princess Karen December 20, 2012, 11:49 AM

      I called Sam’s Coorporate Office and several of my Local Sam’s Club and even one in WV and they state they have never heard about this. I am unsure where you heard that people that get SNAP benefits get a free membership at Sam’s club but I cannot confirm this. I get SNAP personally and my Sam’s membership expires in July so I was very interested. If you got yours this way you were lucky.
      ~Princess Karen

  • Kady January 3, 2014, 1:20 PM

    I receive ebt in NC for myself, husband, & kids. He works while I am a fulltime student. We have a SAMs club membership and shop with EBT there often. And once in awhile, (without coupons), the register will tell them to give me cash back! It’s not a huge amount, maybe 1-4 dollars at a time. But I’ve tried to find an answer why and cannot. The employees seen upset when this happens too, but have to give me the cash. I am really just wondering how and why this happens. Do you have any idea?

  • Chraw January 23, 2014, 2:38 PM

    I am disabled and don’t get out much. I have found amazons subscribe and save to be very helpful since it is delivered to my doorstep.
    Is there a way to use snap for those types of food services?

  • chris July 24, 2015, 10:39 PM

    In NC anyone listed on the EBT benefits can also get a free fishing license from the EBT office or County Social Service office.


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