Extension and Ag Research News


Extension Program Helps SNAP Participants Stretch Food Dollars

The Family Nutrition Program provides tips to stretch your food budget.

During the holidays, many spend extra money to buy gifts and food for celebrations. For the more than 80,000 low-income North Dakotans who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to provide food for their families, this can be an especially challenging time.

A national effort called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed, equips SNAP recipients with the knowledge and skills to stretch their limited food dollars in healthful ways. In North Dakota, this program is called the Family Nutrition Program (FNP).

The North Dakota State University Extension Service runs FNP in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Human Services. FNP teaches participants about nutrition, food resource management and food safety at sites across the state with the highest concentrations of SNAP participants.

Here are some tips from FNP that you can use year-round to help stretch your food dollars in healthful ways:

  • Plan smart, plan ahead. Plan your menu early to take advantage of sales and coupons on the items you need. Check to see what you have on hand and make a list of what you need to save time and money at the store.
  • Save money and time on fruits and veggies. Compare prices of different forms of fruits and vegetables. Frozen and canned versions often are good buys, can save on prep time in the kitchen and provide the same great nutrition as fresh. Rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium, and select canned fruits in water or 100 percent fruit juice.
  • Be flexible about your meat choice. The meat dish can account for nearly 40 percent of the cost of a meal. Prepare a whole roasted chicken or lean pork roast for a special but less expensive meal. Factor in defrost time; frozen meats usually cost less. Buy according to your family’s tastes for white or dark meat; turkey breasts or legs can be a cost-effective option (and easier to cook than a turkey).
  • Substitute as needed for dollar (and calorie) savings. Be prepared to choose a similar but less expensive item if the cost of a food is up. Use reconstituted dry milk or diluted evaporated milk to save money (and calories if substituting for cream) for cooking and baking. Compare unit prices on similar products.
  • Make it yourself. Cooking is generally less expensive than buying a ready-to-go dish at the grocery store. As a bonus, you can control the amount of salt, sugar and fat. Enlist family members to help and make it fun.
  • Invite others to bring food. Ask family members and friends to bring a dish to share when they join your celebration.
  • Be creative with leftovers. Create fun and healthy lunches and dinners from your leftovers, and save money on grocery store trips the rest of the week. Use leftover meats and veggies for sandwiches and soups. See http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/foodwise/recipes-1 for a variety of inexpensive and delicious recipes.

For more information about Family Nutrition Program events in your area, contact your local Extension office. For general information on the FNP, contact Megan Ness, the program’s coordinator, at (701) 231-6515 or Megan.L.Ness@ndsu.edu.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Dec. 29, 2013

Source:Megan Ness, (701) 231-6515, Megan.L.Ness@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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