Can You Spice Up Your Meals with Food Stamps?

Food stamps, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), is a federal program that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food items. The program aims to help people have access to nutritional food and live a healthy lifestyle. However, people often get confused about what they can buy with their food stamps. One of the frequently asked questions is whether they can buy seasonings or spices with their food stamps.

What is SNAP?

The SNAP program provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families. The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture and helps over 42 million Americans. People who are eligible for the program receive an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card that they can use to buy food items at authorized retailers. The program aims to help people who cannot afford nutritious food and help them lead a healthy lifestyle.

What are Food Stamps Eligible for?

Food stamps can be used to purchase food items such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Snack items and non-alcoholic beverages

Can You Buy Spices and Seasonings with SNAP?

Seasonings and spices are not listed specifically on the eligible food items list. However, people can use their SNAP benefits to purchase any food item that is meant for human consumption. Therefore, if the seasoning or spice is used to enhance the flavor of food and for human consumption, it is eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

The USDA Guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updates its guidelines for SNAP beneficiaries regularly. Under the program rules, consumable seasonings that do not contain any nutritional benefit or are used exclusively for cooking-like salt, pepper, and spices- are eligible to be purchased with SNAP benefits. Seasonings that do not fall into these categories are generally considered luxury food items and are not eligible under the program rules.

What Other Items are Ineligible for SNAP?

While SNAP benefits provide great assistance, there are restrictions on some goods that you are not allowed to purchase using your EBT card. Some of the ineligible items include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco products
  • Prepared meals, except for those authorized under special circumstances
  • Pet food
  • Household items, like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products

How to Make Your SNAP Benefits Stretch Further

While seasoning and spices are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits, they can be costly for people on low incomes. Here are some tips and tricks to make your SNAP benefits stretch further:

  • Plan your meals for the week and buy groceries in bulk.
  • Try to buy seasonal local produce, which is often cheaper.
  • Look for deals, compare prices and make use of sales.
  • Buy generic brands instead of the name brands.
  • Use recipes that require fewer ingredients that are easy to find.


Seasonings, spices, and herbs can help you add a lot of flavor, but before you head to the store, it is important to know what you can buy with your SNAP benefits. As long as the seasoning or spice is intended for human consumption and is not a luxury item, you can purchase it with your SNAP benefits. By making smart choices when shopping, you can stretch your benefits further and make them last longer.


Can I receive STAP benefits if I am currently receiving unemployment benefits?

Yes, you can still receive SNAP benefits if you are receiving unemployment benefits or other forms of assistance

Can I purchase vitamins or supplements using SNAP?

No, vitamins and supplements are not eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits.

Can I use my SNAP benefits to purchase cooked meals from restaurants?

Generally, cooked meals are not allowed, but there are special programs approved to allow purchases of cooked meals under specific circumstances.

Can I use my SNAP benefits to purchase organic food or foods from farmer’s markets?

Yes, organic foods and foods from farmer’s markets are eligible for purchase using SNAP benefits.


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