It’s no secret: Feeding a family costs a lot — and even though SNAP benefits can be a lifesaver, they usually can’t cover everything. Not without a little creativity, at least! That’s where we come in. Here’s how to get the (healthiest) bang for your buck.

Before You Go Grocery Shopping

  1. Scan your schedule — and make a plan.

If you’re busy later in the week, choose quick, easy recipes like these 20-minute meals. Or make two portions of your meals on slower nights. Eat one and freeze the other for later!

  1. Make a SNAP-friendly shopping list — and stick to it
    Start here:


  • Buy oats, whole-grain pasta/breads and brown rice in bulk.
    • TIP: Browse the bakery for discounted, day-old (whole grain) breads. They haven’t actually expired yet, so they shouldn’t be stale … but they will be cheaper!


  • Buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables that are low in sodium and/or sugar.
    • TIP: Want to keep it fresh? Double your SNAP dollars at the farmers market!


  • Buy low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese in the largest size you’ll be able to use before it expires.
    • TIP: Freeze your shredded cheese!


  • If you can afford to, buy chicken and ground turkey in bulk — then, freeze it!
  • Find dried or canned beans that are low in sodium.
  • Choose canned tuna that’s packed in water.
    • TIP: Light tuna is typically lowest in mercury.
  1. Hunt for coupons — but only for healthy items you already plan to buy.

Coupons are a huge help … but they can also be a huge trap! They work best when you plan your meals and snacks first, then look for any coupons that apply.

  1. Eat a well-balanced meal or snack before you go.

Another trap? Shopping hungry! Fueling your body with healthy food first can keep your blood sugar in check — and impulse buys at bay.

snap tips
Tips for Your Trip

  1. Sign up for the store’s rewards program.

Many supermarkets offer discounts for frequent shoppers — and the savings can really add up.

  1. Compare cost per ounce.

The store’s “off” brand is often cheapest — and if you can afford it, buy in bulk.

  1. Investigate dates.

Sometimes, stores will discount items that are approaching their “sell by” or “use by” dates. This is a great way to save money if you know you can use the item quickly … but be realistic!

  • “Sell By” Date
    • It’s typically safe to use poultry 1 – 2 days past the “sell by” date, beef for 3 – 5 days and eggs for 3 – 5 weeks … but rely on your sense of smell and our other food safety tips.
  • “Use By” Date vs. “Best if Used By” Date
    • The “use by” date is the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming the food due to safety. “Best if used by” is about quality.

at home food storage
Try This at Home

  1. Get organized.
  • Refrigerate fresh foods immediately — and keep the items that expire first front and center.
  • Freeze or store bulk items you won’t use right away.
    • TIP: You can freeze bread and tortillas!
  1. Get cooking!

Try these healthy, SNAP-friendly meal and snack recipes from Shape Your Future:





Staying within your SNAP budget isn’t always easy, but it’s well within reach! Browse more of our healthy, budget-friendly tips and recipes.