Pantry Staples

The Arizona SNAP Experience is ACAA’s own version of the well-known Food Stamp Challenge. We hope that this week will give participants a tiny glimpse into what life is like for individuals and families trying to eat healthy meals on a meager budget.

One key component of the Experience is deciding which items to purchase with your weekly budget and how to plan meals around them. In keeping with how many other organizations have handled ‘food already on hand’ we created the Pantry Staple rule. FRAC (the Food Research and Action Center) has created a Tool Kit which advises participants that they should use ONLY items purchased during the week, with the exception of spices and condiments. ACAA’s SNAP Experience allows participants to use condiments and spices as well as other ‘Pantry Staples’. We do this in recognition that an individual or household may enroll in SNAP before exhausting their supplies of other staples in the household aside from spices and condiments. Each person has a different definition of a ‘Pantry Staple’ and we’re happy to provide guidance, but suggest participants use their best judgment in deciding what items they have on hand already and can use during the Experience without purchasing new.

Remember, this is the SNAP Experience, not the SNAP Challenge. Your goal this week is to attempt to experience what life might be like if you suddenly found yourself relying on SNAP to eat; your goal is not to ‘win’.

To help you decide if something is a Pantry Staple or not, ask yourself:

– Is this something I always have on hand? If so…

– Is this a main component in a meal or dish?

Items such as pasta, rice, peanut butter, and canned goods may be items you always have on hand, but for most households on a tight food budget, they become main components of a meal. In those cases, we ask that you count them as purchased items, not as a Pantry Staple, and that you include their cost in your weekly budget.

For some ideas of items you may decide to count as Pantry Staples, you can use this list as a starting point. It is not a complete list, and you may use your discretion in deciding if something should be taken from your budget or is a staple. If you’re having trouble deciding if something is truly a Pantry Staple, consider not counting it as one and including its cost in your budget. And happy shopping!

– spices

– condiments including mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, ketchup

– cooking spray or oil

– baking items, uncluding flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugars

– butter or shortening



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