Surviving SNAP (food stamps) cuts: 10 healthy ways to feed your family

Surviving SNAP (food stamps) cuts: 10 healthy ways to feed your family

On November 1st, 2013, SNAP went “snip” on Federal food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cut their budget by 5 billion dollars. Nearly 48 million Americans are now affected, 22 million children.* Approximately 76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits**.

Unfortunately, there is talk in Congress about additional SNAP cuts. If you were affected by the November reduction, or a decrease in household income, adequately feeding your family may be a real challenge. How do you survive SNAP (food stamps) cuts on a string budget? Notice I didn’t say shoestring, the shoe has already dropped.

Holistic nutritionist Terisa Hammond of Biolum Wellness workshops on Chicago’s South side, says that eating healthy is the cheapest way. “Eating healthy on a budget is a conscious choice that requires you to intentionally go outside of your comfort zone to learn new ways of shopping, cooking and eating."

Terisa and I came up with ten ways a family can eat healthy on a reduced SNAP budget:

1. Change your eating habits. You can’t keep eating the same way you did before the cuts. You have to ration your meals. Your food selections and intake will have to be more prudent and strategic.

2. Change your cooking habits. Boxed foods are convenient, but expensive and highly processed. Terisa notes, “It may save you some time; but in addition to wasting money, it will also jeopardize your health.”

3. Learn how to cook. Time to go to Mama and Granny for some lessons in home cooking. They knew how to stretch a dollar back in the day. They can teach you some delicious old school recipes to stretch your dollar. If that’s not an option Terisa suggests other free resources," If you have access to the internet, you can search and watch videos that show you how to cook virtually anything. If you don’t have internet access at home or on your mobile device, access is available for free at your local public library.”

4. Make a grocery list. Trust me, if you know what you're buying before you go shopping, you're less likely to blow your budget buying things you don't need. Consider this: If available, eat something before going shopping so you won't be so hungry when you see all that food. That will help curb impulse buying.

5. Shop at deep discount stores like Aldi or Sav-A-Lot. Some major supermarkets might be a bit too pricey. There is talk of Whole Foods coming into the ‘hood. That’s exciting. But it will be interesting to see how this natural and organic supermarket chain balances budget shopping with their premium prices.

6. Cut out fatty fast foods. Don’t let the value meals fool you. It costs more in the long run. Your families health and wellness is at stake.

7. Cook big meals and freeze them for later. Just like the old folks do. Cook dried beans, greens, cabbage, spaghetti and freeze portions for future meals.

8. Reduce your meat intake. In fact plan two or more days to serve meatless meals. Homemade Mac and cheese made with whole grain macaroni is filling and delicious.

9. Shop at food pantries. Due to the cuts, pantries and churches are stocking up (and running out of) goods, so find out the best times to shop before the pickings get slim.

10. Eat more fruits and veggies, less fries and chips.  Bananas, apples, carrots and celery to name a few are good to munch on to fill you up - especially when you dip it in peanut butter. Fries and chips may come from the potato, but the way it's prepared makes it a no-no.

Do you have suggestions on how to eat healthy on limited funds??

*Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
**Feeding America

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    I pursued a satisfying career in the advertising industry, served as a volunteer mentor and parent educator at my two (now grown up) sons' schools and have actually stayed happily married for over a quarter of a century. However, my most gratifying achievement was raising my sons well. I'm not saying there wasn't a little bit of hell raising going on, but you live and learn. Now I'm passing the knowledge on to you. My goal is to turn these nuggets of wisdom into reference books for parents.

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