How to Feed a Family of 5 With Food Stamps
This information is current as of April 28, 2022.
Putting healthy food on the table isn’t always easy, especially if you have a big family. Luckily, there are some tips you can follow to learn how to feed a family of five with food stamps.
First, you’ll need to determine your benefits and create a budget. If you’ve never budgeted before – don’t worry – we explain it in detail below. Then, you can use money-saving strategies like the Double Up Food Bucks program, coupons, and buying in bulk.
Keep reading for the hot take on providing hot meals for your family of five.
Feeding a Family of 5 With SNAP
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal program that used to be called food stamps. It helps low-income families buy nutritious food using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card reloaded with money each month.
This card works like a debit card and can be used at thousands of grocery stores and retailers across the U.S. It can be swiped just like a regular debit card at any authorized store.
To feed a family of five using SNAP benefits, you’ll first need to make sure you’re eligible and determine the benefits you can receive. Then, you will need to create a budget and make your money stretch using tried and true saving methods.
1. Determine Your Benefits
To receive SNAP benefits, you must apply in your current state. You must also meet specific requirements based on income limits. In most cases, households must meet two income limits: gross income and net income limits.
Gross income means a household’s total income before any deductions have been made. The standard gross income limit is $3,363 per month for a family of five.
Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions. The net income limit is $2,587 per month for a family of five. If your household includes an elderly or disabled person, you will only need to meet the net income limit.
Suppose all members of your household already receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or another type of general assistance. In that case, your family may already qualify for SNAP benefits.
If your family is eligible for SNAP benefits, your household will receive money each month called an allotment. The way to determine your monthly allotment can seem tricky at first, but there is a simple equation to figure it out.
SNAP households are expected to spend around 30% of their resources on food. To calculate your monthly allotment, you’d need to:
- Multiply your household’s net monthly income by .3
- Subtract the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size
- For a household of five, the maximum monthly allotment is $992.
SNAP households are expected to spend around 30% of their resources on food, so to calculate your monthly allotment, you need to multiply your household’s net monthly income by 0.3 and subtract the result from the maximum monthly allotment for your household size. For example, for a household of five, the maximum monthly allowance is $992.
For example, if your net monthly income is $2,587, you multiply by 0.3 to get 776.1 (round up to $777). Then subtract this number from the 5-person household monthly maximum allotment of $992 to get $215. Your SNAP allotment for an entire month would then be $215. These numbers can vary by state.
To learn more about SNAP eligibility, income limits, and allotment, click here or contact your local SNAP office.
2. Create a Budget
It’s essential to create a budget, so your SNAP allowance stretches to feed a family of five. A budget is a spending plan based on income and other expenses like rent, insurance, and transportation. It’s a way to estimate how much money you’ll make and spend over a specific time, such as a month or a year.
To create a budget, the first thing you need to do is calculate your net income. Your net income is the total amount you make in a month minus deductions for taxes or items like employer-provided health insurance.
If you earn money under the table, you don’t have any official deductions unless you report that money to the IRS and pay taxes on it at the end of the year.
Once you have determined how much money you have coming in, you need to figure out where it’s going. First, create a list of your regular monthly bills, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, or car payments.
Next, list expenses that change each month, such as groceries or gas. It will also help to look at old credit card and bank statements since they list what you’ve spent in the past.
Then, it’s important to set short and long-term financial goals. Short-term goals take around one to three years to achieve and could be something like setting up an emergency fund or buying a car. A long-term goal could take decades and include saving for a house or retirement. It’ll be easier to cut spending with goals in mind because you’ll have something to work towards.
Now that you know how much money you have coming and going each month and what you are working towards, you can make a plan and be prepared for the future.
A typical budget plan has the 50/30/20 rule. 50% of your income should go towards “necessities” such as rent or mortgage, car payments, utilities, and groceries each month. Thirty percent can go to “wants” such as streaming services or vacations, and 20% can go to savings or paying debts.
Now that you have a plan, you can find places to cut spending if needed. Cut money from the “wants” section first, then look at the “needs” section and see if you can adjust something like shopping around for a cheaper rate on car insurance. Remember to review your budget regularly to stay on track and see if you need to change anything.
Use the Double Up Food Bucks Program
The Double Up Food Bucks program lets families who receive SNAP benefits get double fruits and vegetables at authorized grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Best of all, this is at no extra cost to the SNAP recipient. It’s available in more than 25 states and matches the monthly allotment on a SNAP EBT card spent on fruits and vegetables. To find out if this program exists near you, click here.
4. Buy in Bulk
A great way to save money when grocery shopping is to buy in bulk, but it’s essential to be strategic so you don’t pay for something that goes unused.
Some products to buy in bulk are coffee beans/ grounds, pet food, paper towels, diapers, shampoo, conditioner, butter, toilet paper, nuts, batteries, school, and office supplies, dry pasta, laundry detergent, toothpaste, trash bags, soap, rice, lightbulbs, cereal, and vanilla extract.
While not all these products are available to purchase with an EBT card, it will still save you money in the long run.
5. Use Saving Strategies
Using saving strategies is a great way to cut costs each month. For example, you can wait for sales, use coupons, and get free memberships to certain grocery stores that give you discounts. In addition, you may want to avoid buying prepackaged or processed items.
These products are usually more expensive, compare prices between stores, buy generic brands, and download a rebate app to get cashback.
6. Find Cheap Recipes for Large Families
When searching for cheap recipes for large families, Google is your friend! There are thousands of healthy, delicious meals for less than $10. include pasta, rice, or beans which you can buy in bulk, and meals with lots of vegetables. You can also have a few meatless meals a week as meat is more expensive.
Tips for Grocery Shopping With Food Stamps
Some common saving tips are to avoid shopping when you are hungry and to look closely at red or yellow stickers on food. This advertising trick makes you think they are a sale item, but it may not be.
Never buy products at eye-level as they stock the most expensive things there. Also, have your calculator out while you shop and keep rounding up. This lets you keep track of what you spend and leaves you pleasantly surprised when it’s less at check out.
You may also get a discount if you bring your shopping bag. Here’s a tip: shop the outside aisles of the store rather than the middle. Outer aisles usually have cheaper fruits and vegetables versus the prepackaged, expensive items in the middle aisles.
Figuring out how to feed a family of five on food stamps can seem daunting. Luckily, with a few tricks and a little preparation, you can stretch your monthly allotment to get the most out of your money while feeding your family the healthiest options.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
When you qualify for government benefit programs like SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Both Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.