SNAP Foods That You Can Get the Most Out Of

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Under the terms of SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you only get a set amount of monthly food stamp credits. It can seem like a daunting task to try to purchase all the food you need for your household on just your SNAP credits and whatever limited cash you have. But, you can make the process easier by knowing which foods covered by SNAP can be stored for long periods of time because you can stock up on them when they are on sale. Below is a list of some of the foods with long shelf lives that you can buy with food stamps.

Whole or Frozen Squash

Certain types of whole squash, like pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash, can last for at least two months after you buy them. Assuming that you are storing them in a cool, dark, dry place, they may even last for as much as triple that length of time. But, they won’t last nearly as long once you slice into them. That’s why it’s better to either plan on making a large batch of something, like pumpkin soup, when you use one, or to buy small squashes that are just big enough for you to eat in one or two servings.

Similarly, frozen squash can last for months in the freezer. You can cut up fresh squash and freeze it in servings that are just the right size for your needs. Alternatively, you can buy prepackaged, frozen squash.

Other Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

Frozen vegetables with long shelf lives are not limited to squash. Almost any store-bought frozen fruit or vegetable will last for months, including green beans, broccoli and carrots. But, be sure to reseal the bag well if you don’t use the whole portion at once. Otherwise, items can become freezer burnt. While you can also freeze your own fresh fruits and vegetables, they might cost more, and they probably won’t keep for as long. So, the already-frozen bags of them at your local grocery store are probably the better SNAP purchases.

Pasta

Any type of dry pasta stores well in an area that is both dry or cool. For the best results, store pasta in a sealed container, so it has no exposure to outside air. Also, consider buying vegetable pasta or whole grain pasta when it’s on sale. Those are healthier choices that store for six to eight months, just like regular pasta.

Rice

Storing any sort of rice is mostly like storing pasta, as far as method goes. The exception is that you should freeze or refrigerate dry brown rice. Most other types can be stored at room temperature. Rice and pasta are quite different in terms of how long you can store them, though. Rice can be kept for as long as two years in some cases, which means that you should definitely stock up on it when you see a sale.

Beans

Dry beans are the backbone of many recipes recommended for those who receive SNAP benefits. There are three main reasons for this. First of all, beans are cheap, to start. A second benefit is that they gain three times the volume when hydrated. A third reason to stock up on beans is that they last for many months. Of course, you can also buy canned beans of various types, which will keep in your cabinet for two years or more.

Hot and Cold Cereals

Rolled oats last for years, and even packets of dry cream of wheat or oatmeal are often good for many months. As for cold cereals, the shelf lives vary depending on the type of cereal, but almost all of them last for at least a couple of months.

Peanut Butter

You might not realize it, but peanut butter doesn’t necessarily go bad just because the oil separates. You can often give it a stir, and it will taste perfectly fine. Most peanut butters don’t become rancid for about two years after they are purchased.

Apples

You will hardly ever have to worry about your apples spoiling in under a month as long as you store them properly. They should be alone in your vegetable bin and sealed inside a plastic bag. You can make them last even longer by eating the largest apples first. The smaller the apple, the longer the shelf life tends to be. But, apples can spoil faster when surrounded by other rotten apples, so be sure to throw out any apples that start to go bad right away.

Certain Fresh Vegetables

There are many fresh vegetables that store for long periods of time as well, as long as they are kept in the right containers or environments. Among them are potatoes, carrots, cabbages and onions. You can take full advantage of that by combining some or all of those ingredients in dishes like stews, which can then be frozen for a while before you eat them.

This is only a partial list of long-lasting foods that you can buy with your SNAP food stamps. Nuts, cheeses and many other foods can also last for long times when stored properly. So do a little research, and you should be able to come up with a lot of SNAP foods that can give you the most bang for your buck.