Meal Planning for Paleo Diets on Food Stamps
SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, includes food stamps. Since the food stamp program is somewhat limiting as far as what you can buy with your credits, you might think that it would be difficult or impossible to stick to a Paleo diet on food stamps. But, it is actually possible. Below are some tips that can help you on this dietary journey.
Know the Point of Eating Paleo
The Paleo diet is also known as the Caveman diet because, in the strictest sense, it is based on what our ancestors ate. They were gatherers and hunters surviving on whatever they could find in the wild. However, today’s Paleo dieters often want to eat Paleo to stay generally healthy or to avoid health problems like allergies and stomach cramps due to indigestion. If you are one of those people, you don’t necessarily have to eat all Paleo foods.
Understand That Paleo Rules Can be Flexible
Even if you do want to eat all Paleo foods, which can be done on food stamps, know that different people have different opinions of what Paleo foods are. There are some broad guidelines, like avoiding grains and not eating processed foods, but each person handles his or her own Paleo diet differently.
One key example is potatoes. Strictly speaking, potatoes are a farmed crop. Since Paleo-era humans didn’t farm, they are considered off-limits to some Paleo dieters. But, others feel that potatoes are perfectly acceptable, and they are also generally inexpensive, making them a good food stamp budget purchase for you.
Use Both Your Food Stamps and Your Money Wisely
Food stamps, alone usually don’t make up the entire grocery shopping budget for a family. If you are serious about staying Paleo on food stamps then you will need to learn to manage both your money and your food stamps. For example, you might be able to get deals on fresh vegetables at your local farmers market at certain times of year. Many farmers markets in certain states actually take food stamps, as well. You can save money, food stamps or a bit of both by shopping with local vendors whenever you can.
Know That You Can Coupon on Food Stamps
If you have never seen others submit regular coupons while also using food stamps, it’s only because a lot of people don’t realize that they can. If you want to try it yourself, make sure you familiarize yourself with individual store policies and your state’s laws, especially regarding taxes. While your food stamp balance may cover the cost of your groceries, you may have to pay the taxes on the items you have used coupons for out of your own pocket. It may only be a few cents here and a few cents there, but it adds up. Be prepared for this, and make sure you have the cash to cover all of your food expenses.
Freeze or Jar Fruits and Vegetables for Later
Farmers markets typically only run at certain times of the year. In addition, grocery stores offer deals on certain fresh fruits and vegetables seasonally. Since fruits and vegetables are essential to Paleo diets, you should take advantage of that, but obviously, those sorts of products don’t last forever. In fact, they have very short shelf lives in their natural forms. But, you can easily take advantage of seasonal products and sales by jarring vegetables for later or by putting them in your freezer. Many fruits taste great frozen. Among them are bananas and grapes. Remember that if you have the space and time, you can even grow some of your own fruits and vegetables in a garden or in flower pots in your home to cut back on your spending and by sticking to your food stamp budget.
Stock Up on Expensive Items When You See a Sale
One of the hardest parts about sticking to a Paleo diet while on food stamps can be purchasing meats and other expensive foods that you like, such as shellfish. If you have freezer space, stock up when you see sales. That might require a little creative budgeting once in a while, but the savings will allow you to get other food items during later shopping trips that you would otherwise have to cross off of your grocery list.
Use Vegetables Creatively to Save Stamp Credits and to Stay Healthier
Vegetables are the linchpins of good Paleo diets, but eating the same ones the same way every time can get boring. This can lead you to be tempted to buy other more expensive Paleo-friendly foods, or worse yet, to go off your Paleo diet, entirely. You can avoid that problem by finding creative uses for your vegetables, such as making your own zucchini pasta or doctoring up a spaghetti squash, since grains are frowned upon by Paleo dieters.
By combining all of those techniques, you can make your food stamp credits stretch further and have more wiggle room when you make out your Paleo meal plan each week. You can also combine the techniques above with keeping a list of what is already available in your fridge or freezer to make your food stamp budget-based Paleo meal plans even more efficient, both financially and in terms of your family’s health.