7 Weird Things You Can Buy With Your Food Stamps

weird things you can buy with food stamps

7 Weird Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps (including lobster)

In this guide, I will share a list of 7 weird things you can buy with your food stamps card.

If you’re on food stamps, you already know that you can purchase groceries to feed your family, but some of the things you see on this list may surprise you. We’ve compiled a list of some of the weirdest items we could find to help those on food stamps get more creative with how they spend their money.

Continue reading to learn about some crazy things you can buy with EBT food stamps.

1. Fast Food

Fast food is the first item on our list.

You can purchase fast food using your EBT or food stamp card. Many fast-food chains accept food stamps like McDonald’s, Subway, and Taco Bell. That being said you also have to live in a state that allows these restaurants to accept food stamps.

The federal program that regulates whether your state’s Mcdonald’s can accept your EBT Card is called the Restaurants Meals Program. This program isn’t available in all areas or for everyone. This program is just accessible in a certain number of places.

The Restaurant Meals Program was created to assist homeless people, the elderly, and disabled individuals who cannot prepare their own meals at home.

This program is governed by the Food Stamp Act. However, it is not available at a national level. The authority for a restaurant to join or leave the association is granted to each state. In fact, several states choose not to participate. In states that participate, each county has the choice of whether or not to join this initiative.

It quickly becomes extremely complex. The quickest method to find out if your favorite fast food restaurant accepts food stamps is to look for an EBT accepted sign, such as the one shown below. 

2. Seafood (Lobster and Shellfish)

Seafood like lobster and shellfish can also be purchased with your food stamp card.

Just because you can purchase lobster, doesn’t mean you should purchase it with your EBT card. Making a habit of eating lobster and shellfish can be expensive and this will quickly deplete your monthly SNAP benefits!

weird things you can buy with food stamps

3. Energy Drinks Can Be Bought With EBT Card

You can also use your food stamp card to buy some energy drinks.

To better understand which energy drinks can be purchased with a food stamp card, let’s break down the two types of energy drinks.

  • There are energy drinks that are considered to be food items. These have nutritional information on the label.
  • The other type of energy drink is considered a supplement. This type of energy drink has information about supplement information on its label. You can’t purchase supplements and vitamins with your food stamps card consequently, you won’t be able to purchase those brands of energy drinks with cards for food stamps.

Many people often wonder if you can buy a 5-Hour Energy with EBT and the answer is no. This is considered a supplement. 

List Of Energy Drinks You Can And Cannot Purchase With Food Stamps

Below is a list of energy drinks that can and cannot be bought with food stamps according to the I Am Going Vegan website.

Energy Drinks You Can Purchase With Food Stamps Energy Drinks You Cannot Purchase With Food Stamps
Monster Energy Drinks 5 Hour Energy Shots
Mountain Dew Kick Start CUT Energy + Weight Loss
Rockstar Energy Drink  Celsius Sparkling
Red Bull Energy Drink Fit Aid Recovery Blend
Starbucks Double Shot Energy Drink Jocko Go Energy Drink
X2 Natural Energy Drink Pureboost Clean Energy Drink 
Aspire Healthy Energy Zipfizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix
Amino Energy   
V8 + Energy   

Can I Buy 5 Hour Energy Drinks With Food Stamps?

No, you cannot purchase 5 Hour Energy shots with SNAP benefits according to the USDA.  A 5 Hour Energy drink is considered a supplement drink. You can determine whether an energy drink is a “supplement” or “food item” by looking at the label on the back of the bottle. If you see a label that reads “supplement facts” then it’s a supplement item, not a food item. 

can you buy 5 hour energy with food stamps
If the energy drink has a “supplement facts” label then it is not an eligible item to be purchased with food stamps.

Although 5 Hour Energy drinks are not an eligible purchase under the SNAP benefits program, some food stamp recipients have purchased this energy drink with their benefits.  This may be the case, but we do not want to encourage you to do anything that will jeopardize your food stamp benefits. 

If you do choose to buy 5-Hour Energy with your EBT card, just understand the risks of misusing your food stamp benefits. 

4. Birthday Cakes May Be Bought With Food Stamps

Some birthday cakes can be purchased with a food stamp card.

If you’re looking to purchase your child a special birthday cake from the grocery store, you could potentially do so using your food stamps card. The law states that it is permissible so that at least half the price of the cake lies in the edible portion instead of the decoration. Food stamps may cover if the cake requires a limited amount of decorating.

Now, if you try to purchase a fancy wedding cake, this is a case where the decoration will cost more than the actual edible portion of the cost. If you want to buy a cake, just make sure that the decoration isn’t extravagant, and you may be able to use your food stamp card to buy a cake.

5. Buy Gift Baskets With Food Stamps

Like cake for birthdays, it is possible to purchase gift baskets using food stamps as they are at least 50% of the price is edible. Here are examples of gift baskets that you can buy with food stamps:

  • You can purchase Easter baskets filled with sweets, but not Easter baskets filled with toys.
  • On Valentine’s Day, it is possible to purchase small bears with a large box of chocolates, however, you cant purchase a large bear with a small box of chocolates.
  • During the Christmas season, you can also buy large tin cans of popcorn.

6. Plants And Seeds To Grow Fruits And Vegetables

Plant seeds that are eligible include vegetable seeds and plants that produce foods, such as green pepper and tomato plants.  Other eligible items include food-producing trees, fruit tree roots, bushes, and bulbs like asparagus and fruit bushes. 

Seeds and plants that make cooking spices can also be available through the SNAP benefits. In this way, certain herb plants produce food for consumption and can be purchased through SNAP benefits, whereas others produce food items to be consumed and aren’t qualified for purchase through SNAP benefits.

Every plant that is available at the market has to be considered under this factor to determine eligibility for SNAP. For instance, the majority of mint, spearmint and cilantro, basil, sage, and oregano produce food items to eat and are eligible to purchase through SNAP benefits.  However, certain species of sage are strictly ornamental and not food-producing that can be eaten and are ineligible to purchase using SNAP benefits.

It is important to note that any seed or plant bought with SNAP benefits should be bought to cultivate foods for the SNAP household, not used to sell.

7. Purchase Hunting And Fishing Equipment With Food Stamps

Lastly, fishing and hunting equipment can be purchased with food stamps if you live in a rural area and you hunt and fish for food year-round.

These weird EBT-eligible items mostly apply to individuals living in Alaska. The government has given this permission since they realize there aren’t many grocery shops typical in the rural areas of Alaska.  Some states have also realized that fishing and hunting are ideal options for families to make the most of their budgets. 

There are many states that let you receive a free fishing or hunting permit, depending on the income you earn from food stamps.

List Of Eligible Food Stamp Items And Things You Cannot Purchase

Below is a list that explains which items you can and cannot buy with food stamps

Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps

Things You Cannot Buy With Food Stamps

Bread and cereals. Alcoholic drinks and tobacco products like cigarettes.
Fruits and vegetables.  Hot foods or fast foods if the state you live in is not part of the Restaurant Meals Program
Dairy products.  Nonfood items.
Meat, fish, and chicken.  Paper products. 
Deli meats and steak.  Medicines or vitamins. 
Seeds and plants that produce food.  Household goods. 
Candy, cookies, ice cream, snack crackers. soda.  Grooming items. 
Live seafood like lobster or shellfish.  Cleaning items like soaps. 
Energy drinks that have a nutrition label on the can or bottle.  Pet foods for your dog or cat. 



There are many other ways to use your food stamp card besides regular grocery purchases. Some may consider these to be weird things you can buy with EBT. For instance, birthday cakes and gift baskets for birthdays that contain at least 50% edible items may be purchased using SNAP benefits.

This article also provides useful information about what plants or seeds qualify as eligible purchases through SNAP benefits. If you’re looking to stock up on hunting equipment like bows, arrows, guns, or fishing gear to hunt and fish year-round, this article will help clarify whether these types of items are qualified for purchase by the government’s standards if you live in rural areas of Alaska (or other states).

As you can see, you can make many obscure purchases with your food stamps card. If you have questions about whether SNAP will approve a purchase, contact your local food stamp office for guidance.

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Things You Can Buy With Food Stamps FAQ

Can I buy fast food with food stamps?

If you live in a state that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program then you can purchase fast food with SNAP benefits. The problem is only 6 states participate in the program. Those states are Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia. If you do not live in these states then you cannot buy fast food with your EBT card.

Can I buy cigarettes with food stamps?

No, you cannot use food stamps to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. These are not considered approved food items and therefore cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits.

Can I buy supplements with food stamps?

No, you cannot purchase supplements for food stamps. While supplements can provide benefits that are similar to food, they are not considered eligible items under the SNAP program.

Can I buy frozen pizza with food stamps?

Yes, frozen pizza is an eligible purchase under the SNAP program. You can purchase any frozen pizza that you find in the grocery store, however, you cannot buy hot pizza from establishments unless your state participates in the Restaurant Meals Program. Currently, only Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia participate in this program and allow SNAP beneficiaries to purchase fast food.

What Is The Restaurant Meals Program?

The Restaurant Meals Program is a program that allows SNAP recipients in certain states to purchase hot, ready-to-eat meals from participating restaurants. This program allows people with limited resources to purchase hot meals without having to cook or prepare their own food. Currently, only Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia participate in the program.

8 thoughts on “7 Weird Things You Can Buy With Your Food Stamps

  1. Chad Reply

    Yeah I saw that the game The Last Dab from the YouTube show Hot Ones. You can purchase with your food stamps because of the hot sauce it has included in the game.

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      Not certain, but I would imagine hot sauce is on the list also. Condiments and spices are supposed to be considered food items. Talk to your local food stamp office to confirm this though.

      On a personal note, I do enjoy hot sauce, but not those 5 alarm hot sauce flavors. Check out this brand if you are into those crazy flavors!.

  2. Ann Kelleher Devine Reply

    I do not understand why a person can use their SNAP benefits at the convenience store to buy that extra large soda pop tons of sugar in it and three or four extra large candy bars and bags of chips and all kinds of unhealthy things. When a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate has less sugar and unhealthy nutrients then a candy bar does!?!? Especially when it’s cold outside, and people like me have to stand out there and wait for the bus!!!

    • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

      I’m not certain but it may be about liability. Here’s what I mean I have read that some states will not allow you to buy hot foods because there could be a chance that those food served to you could make you sick because they’re being prepared by somebody else. While the state health department didn’t serve you those hot foods there’s a chance that they could be included in litigation if those were to make you sick. It’s my understanding that you can buy a coffee that you make at home and brew yourself.

  3. shyanne Reply

    Yes you can get 5 hour energy with SNAP. I just bought 2 with mine.

    • Sierra Reply

      I bought an a ntore 6pack of 5 hour energies the other day at kroger on accident. I rang everything up and used my ebt card first to pay for the food items and was surprised when I owed $1 for my son’s toy. It covered them. So strange! I’m talking about the actual brand name 5 hour energy too.

      • Nick Bryant Post authorReply

        You probably can buy it with an EBT card, but just try not to make a habit in case the health department audits purchases. There are lots of people on SNAP so the odds of them finding one purchase may be slim, but just be careful.

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