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Cheap eats: What to do before the food stamps run out
Karen House
Jan. 21, 2019, 12:24 a.m.

Jan. 20, 2019 – The federal government has been shut down for several weeks, and reportedly if the shutdown continues through the end of February, there will be no food stamps issued in March for the 1-in-10 Americans dependent on them for food. Many of these people are disabled veterans, retirees on Social Security, and single moms.

If you or someone you know is reliant on an EBT card for some or all of their groceries, the following information may prove helpful.


If you use an EBT card or SNAP benefits to buy food, plan ahead now for buying what you need in February – it may have to last you for two or more months.

Make a list of what you plan to get in February, and stick to the list. Avoid buying empty calories or food high in sugar, because sugar stimulates the appetite, giving a person the “munchies,” meaning more food will be consumed.

Stick with the essentials, avoiding processed foods, which cost more. Buy ingredients, instead, and cook your own food.


Here is a suggested list of the top 15 basics, with which two adults might prepare simple meals for six to eight weeks:

  1. Salt
  2. Corn meal mix
  3. Self-rising flour
  4. Lard
  5. Canned milk (4 cans)
  6. Eggs (3 flats)
  7. Canned vegetables (3 flats)
  8. Rice (4 lb.)
  9. Dried beans (4 lb.)
  10. Bananas
  11. Oil
  12. Spaghetti noodles (4)
  13. Canned fish (tuna or sardines – 6)
  14. Onions or garlic
  15. Cheese (2 pounds)

Based on the prices at Dunlap Save-A-Lot, all these would cost under $100.

Cornmeal, eggs, and canned milk makes cornbread. Self-rising flour with lard and canned milk becomes biscuits. Rice and dried beans make a complete protein that is as good for you as meat (and if you wash the beans several times in the process they will not cause terrible gas).

Even perishable items like bananas can last longer than you think. If they start to turn brown, throw them in the freezer – peel and all – and take them out later when you are ready to make banana bread.

When buying on a budget, be sure to check the price per ounce. For example, if a 5-pound block of unsliced cheese tallies up to $4 a pound, and the 1-pound sliced cheese is $3.68, the sliced cheese is a better bargain, as well as going further because it is already sliced.

Perishable items that can not be frozen, like bread, simply will not last more than a week or so. That is where the cornbread and biscuits come in.

Onions or garlic are simply to season up a meal so it does not taste so bland.

And don't forget the salt if you don't have some already in the cabinet.

If you buy the essentials and have some money left on your EBT card, you might get some hamburger or other low-cost meat to divide up into small amounts of a pound or a half-pound to put in the freezer. Ration it out and cook it in a casserole or stew, to make it last longer. Chili is an easy meal, with just a couple of cans of chili beans, a can of tomatoes and a little bit of hamburger browned with onions.

But be sure to hold a little bit back on your card, in case you run out of something . . . or the government shutdown lasts longer than any of us expect.

Last Week's Feature
Miss Tennessee visits schools in Sequatchie County
Karen House
Jan. 15, 2019, 9:17 p.m.

Jan. 15, 2019 – Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson visited local schools Tuesday, Jan. 15, speaking to several groups of youngsters during the day.

Williamson won the 2018 Miss Tennessee pageant as Miss Chattanooga.

Representing the state of Tennessee and Gov. Bill Haslam, she is traveling the state, visiting schools and other public facilities, and this week she visited the schools in Dunlap.

Speaking on the importance of respect, Miss Tennessee addressed several groups of students at Griffith Elementary School and an assembly of fourth- and fifth-graders at Sequatchie County Middle School.