Today’s grocery shoppers are sharpening their skills for stretching their purchasing power, especially when it comes to food shopping.  Unfortunately for the elderly and lower-income group of buyers, the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused food prices to rise as much as 50% (and more).

One major problem facing low-income shoppers is their dependence on their SNAP – EBT (Formerly Food Stamps) income assistance. Especially for large families. Many of these shoppers need to buy as much of their food online as possible. Perishables such as fresh veggies, dairy, bread, and other products in this category must be purchased in person.

But those that are dependent on rides from their senior center vans, buses, Uber, and individuals may have time constraints when shopping and need to make minimal in-person purchases necessitating the need to make online purchases for their other needs.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Major retailers are realizing that there is a huge national market for their non-perishable grocery related products. Especially for EBT shoppers. The problem until now has been a lack of availability of stores accepting EBT and inflated pricing. But believe it or not this situation is changing. The only grocery online retailer I’ve found that accepts SNAP-EBT nationally is amazon.com.

Walmart accepts SNAP-EBT in a small number of states. There are several other retailers but they only deliver to a few (or less) states. I live in Tucumcari, a small New Mexico town with a population nearing 5,000. There’s only one major food shopping option here with a couple of minimal ones like Dollar General, or Family Dollar. Prices here are now insane. I’ve seen items I purchase regularly raise 20% to 60%.  

Many grocery related products are now cheaper online than in stores. Many grocery stores, especially those in small towns, realize that may popular items like toilet paper, Hand sanitizer,  home cleaning products, paper towels, hand soap, diapers, thermometers, water filters, and the list goes on-and-on.

Even items for home baking have gone way up in price since people have become more cost-conscious, and baking means fewer trips to the store. So what’s the “Light at the End of the Tunnel?”

Amazon.com has two departments for buying online groceries and related products. Their standard grocery department where you can purchase individual items in small quantity, and their “Pantry Dept.” where you can purchase bulk items. Though I used cash to make my purchases, I’ve saved over $100 over the last two months on minimal purchases.

For example, you can purchase from amazon.com “Hormel Compleats Chicken Breast with Rib Meat and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, 10 Ounce, Pack of 6″ for $12.51. That’s only $2.08 each (They were only $10.97 or $1.82 each last week). The $2.08 is still about $.60 cheaper than in our local grocery store. And I discovered dozens of products that accept SNAP-EBT cards, and free shipping, all at reasonable prices. 

And many of their products are EBT eligible including FREE SHIPPING (with a minimum purchase) but not all.  As I researched this issue, I found that, when paying by cash,  visiting multiple stores online can really save you money. Each store has its “Loss Leaders” or “Super discounted products,” while many of their other products are high in one store but reasonable in another. It’s up to you to do comparison shopping to find these online gems (bargains).

To make life easier for you, we’ve added links to amazon.com grocery programs on our homepage at https://tucumcaribargains.com so you won’t need to search through the myriad of departments on Amazon. It took me about 15 minutes to finally locate bot grocery departments. If you are a SNAP-EBT buy, BE SURE that the food items you are interested in list they ACCEPT SNAP-EBT. Many don’t. Check your shopping cart and you should have Free Shipping. If you see a shipping charge, you have something in your cart that’s not SNAP-EBT eligible. Be willing to pay cash for this item or delete it.

I found the best online grocery stores offering national free delivery (Only for credit card/debit card buyers) are Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Don’t be frustrated when you see some items you want to purchase that are ridiculously priced, not available, or just only available to in-store shoppers (No delivery). There are many in these categories. But once I got the hang of this type of shopping, I purchase a couple of hundred dollars in items online and it makes my shopping experience much easier. Empower yourself through research and wise shopping.

Remember, “It’s Your Business.”

Maverick