According to Yahoo News , “Beginning in November, a temporary benefit from the 2009 economic stimulus that boosts food stamp dollars will no longer be available. According to the Agriculture Department, that means a family of four receiving food stamps will start receiving $36 less a month.”
It goes on to note that, “The benefits, which go to 1 in 7 Americans, fluctuate based on factors that include food prices, inflation and income.”
While this cut could be a painful cut to some, it doesn’t mean that it has to be insurmountable. Our own family isn’t on SNAP benefits; however, this doesn’t mean that we don’t utilize certain shopping tactics to help us keep our average food expenditures well below many of those who are.
Our expenditures versus SNAP recipients
According to a table found at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website, the average monthly SNAP benefit a family of four during fiscal year 2011 was $489.
Meanwhile, our family averages about $275 a month, and this number includes things like diapers, formula, wipes, and similar baby supplies for our littlest one. And since we’ve recently moved to a new area of Chicagoland, we don’t even have the opportunity to grow our own food anymore, which has pushed our grocery bill even higher.
Finding ways to cut
So how to we keep our bills so low and continue to look for ways to cut? Well, it’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun having to restrict ourselves in what we’d like to eat versus what we do eat, but we manage by using several tactics.
First off, we utilize a shopping list. It might seem a simple tactic, and it is; however, it keeps us from forgetting things that would lead us to make multiple trips to the store each week and it helps us avoid impulse buys. We make one trip to the grocery store every week, and that’s it.
Another huge help in slashing costs is by avoiding name brands. We generally cut anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off our grocery bills by doing this. We also shop discount grocers like Aldi and Wal-mart to help us keep our bills down. And finally, we create meal plans that help us use up items that are nearing their expiration date or that are leftovers, which in turn helps us keep food waste down. Our overall food waste is only about 1 percent.
In these ways we keep our grocery bills well below the average SNAP benefit even after the program’s upcoming cut.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.