Can You Buy Meat With Ebt? A Detailed Guide

Whether you receive SNAP benefits or know someone who does, you may wonder what food items can be purchased with an EBT card. Meat is one of the most common foods people buy for their families.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, you can buy meat with EBT benefits. Meat is one of the eligible items under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This means that you can use your EBT card to purchase fresh, frozen, or canned meat at authorized retailers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying meat with EBT or SNAP benefits. You’ll learn the specifics around different types of meat, including fresh, frozen, packaged, deli, and organic options.

We’ll also discuss any restrictions, explain how the EBT card works at grocery stores and butcher shops, and provide tips to get the most out of your benefits when shopping for meat.

Background on the SNAP/EBT Program

The SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a federal assistance program in the United States that provides low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. This program aims to improve the nutrition and well-being of eligible participants.

SNAP benefits are distributed through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card.

What SNAP Covers

The SNAP program allows participants to purchase a wide variety of food items, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, bread, cereals, and more.

The program aims to help individuals and families have access to nutritious meals and maintain a balanced diet. However, not all food items are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

It’s important to note that SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-food items such as household supplies, pet food, alcohol, or tobacco products. The focus of the program is to support individuals and families in obtaining essential food items.

How the EBT Card Works

Recipients of SNAP can use the EBT card to make purchases at authorized retailers, including grocery stores, supermarkets, and farmers’ markets.

When making a purchase, participants simply swipe their EBT card through the card reader and enter their personal identification number (PIN) to complete the transaction. The purchase amount is deducted from their available balance, and they receive a receipt showing the remaining balance on their EBT card.

How the EBT Card Works

Meat as an Allowable Purchase

Yes, it is possible to buy meat with EBT benefits.

Meat, including beef, poultry, pork, and seafood, is considered an allowable purchase under the SNAP program. This means that participants can use their EBT card to buy various cuts of meat, whether fresh, frozen, or canned.

It’s important to remember that the purchase of hot foods and prepared foods meant for on-premise consumption from authorized retailers is generally not allowed with SNAP benefits. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as the ability to purchase hot, prepared foods from approved retailers in certain circumstances, such as for elderly or disabled individuals in areas that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP).

If you’re unsure about what can be purchased with your EBT card, it’s always a good idea to check the official USDA website or contact your local SNAP office for more information.

Buying Fresh Meat with EBT

One of the most common questions people have when it comes to using their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card is whether they can buy fresh meat.

The good news is that EBT can be used to purchase fresh meats at authorized retailers. This means you can use your EBT card to buy a variety of fresh meats, including beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and more.

Fresh Beef, Pork, Chicken, Lamb, etc.

When it comes to buying fresh meats with EBT, there are no restrictions on the types of meats you can purchase. You can buy beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and any other fresh meat available at the authorized retailer.

This gives you the flexibility to choose the cuts and types of meat that best suit your preferences and dietary needs.


Fresh Fish and Seafood

In addition to fresh meats, you can also use your EBT card to purchase fresh fish and seafood. This includes a wide variety of options, such as salmon, shrimp, tuna, and even lobsters.

Just like with fresh meats, there are no limitations on the types of fish and seafood you can buy with your EBT card.

Tips for Choosing Fresh Cuts

When buying fresh meat with EBT, it’s important to choose cuts that are fresh and of good quality. Here are some tips to help you make the best choices:

  • Check the color and appearance: Fresh meat should have a vibrant color and should not appear discolored or slimy.
  • Look for marbling: Marbling refers to the white streaks of fat within the meat. This can enhance the flavor and juiciness of the meat.
  • Check for firmness: Fresh meat should feel firm to the touch. Avoid meat that feels mushy or soft.
  • Smell the meat: Fresh meat should have a neutral or slightly sweet smell. Avoid meat that has a strong or unpleasant odor.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you are buying fresh and high-quality cuts of meat with your EBT card.

For more information on using EBT to purchase fresh meat and other eligible food items, you can visit the official website of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Buying Frozen and Packaged Meat

When it comes to purchasing meat with EBT, there are various options available for those looking to buy frozen and packaged meat. These options include ground meat, frozen cuts, hot dogs, sausages, deli meat, canned meats like tuna, and even frozen prepared or breaded foods.

Let’s take a closer look at each category:

Ground Meat and Frozen Cuts

Ground meat, such as ground beef or ground turkey, is a popular choice for many households. It can be used in a variety of recipes, from burgers to meat sauces. With EBT, you can buy both fresh and frozen ground meat.

Frozen cuts of meat, such as chicken breasts or pork chops, are also available for purchase with EBT. These frozen options provide convenience and are great for meal planning.

Hot Dogs, Sausages, Deli Meat

If you’re a fan of hot dogs, sausages, or deli meat, you’ll be glad to know that these items can be bought with EBT. Whether you prefer beef, chicken, or turkey options, you can find a wide range of choices in the frozen or refrigerated section of your local grocery store.

These options are perfect for quick and easy meals or snacks.


Canned Meats like Tuna

Canned meats, such as tuna or chicken, are another option for those looking to buy meat with EBT. These canned meats are not only affordable but also have a long shelf life, making them a convenient choice for stocking up.

They can be used in sandwiches, salads, casseroles, or even as a protein-packed snack.

Frozen Prepared/Breaded Foods

For those who enjoy the convenience of frozen prepared or breaded foods, there are also options available for purchase with EBT.

These options include frozen chicken nuggets, breaded fish fillets, or even frozen meatballs. These items can be a great addition to your freezer for those days when you need a quick and easy meal.

It’s important to note that while EBT can be used to purchase these meat options, there may be certain restrictions or limitations depending on your state or the specific program you are enrolled in. It’s always a good idea to check with your local SNAP office or visit the official website for more information on what can be purchased with EBT.

Purchasing Meat from the Deli Counter

When it comes to buying meat with EBT, you may be wondering if you can purchase meat from the deli counter. The good news is that, in most cases, you can use your EBT card to buy deli meats. However, it’s important to know the specific guidelines and restrictions that apply.

Deli Sliced Meats and Cheeses

One option for purchasing meat from the deli counter is to buy deli-sliced meats and cheeses. These can include popular choices like turkey, ham, roast beef, and various types of cheese. You can usually find these items pre-packaged or have them sliced to your desired thickness.

Just make sure to check the packaging for any specific EBT restrictions, as some stores may have limitations on certain deli items.


Pre-Made Deli Salads with Meat

Another option for purchasing meat from the deli counter is to buy pre-made deli salads that include meat. These salads can be a convenient and delicious option, as they often contain a variety of ingredients like chicken, ham, or bacon mixed with vegetables and dressing.

These salads can be a great source of protein and can be enjoyed as a side dish or a light meal. Just keep in mind that not all pre-made deli salads may be eligible for purchase with EBT, so it’s a good idea to check the packaging or ask the deli counter staff for assistance.

Organic and Specialty Meat Options

When it comes to using EBT to purchase meat, you may be wondering if there are any options for organic and specialty meats. The good news is that you can indeed use your EBT benefits to purchase these higher-quality meat options.

However, it’s important to note that availability may vary depending on the store and location.

Organic Meat Varieties

If you’re someone who prefers organic meats, you’ll be glad to know that many grocery stores now offer a selection of organic meat options.

Organic meats are raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These meats are often sourced from animals that are raised in more humane and environmentally friendly conditions.

When shopping for organic meats with your EBT card, look for labels and certifications such as USDA Organic, which ensure that the meat you’re purchasing meets specific organic standards. Some popular organic meat options you may find include organic chicken, beef, pork, and even specialty options like organic bison or lamb.

Grass-Fed, Free-Range, Etc.

In addition to organic meats, you may also come across other specialty meat options such as grass-fed, free-range, or pasture-raised meats. These terms refer to specific farming practices that prioritize the animal’s well-being and the quality of the meat.

Grass-fed meats come from animals that have been fed a natural diet of grass or forage. These meats tend to be leaner and have a different flavor profile compared to conventionally raised meats.

Free-range or pasture-raised meats come from animals that have access to outdoor spaces, allowing them to roam and graze more freely.

Game Meat like Venison

If you’re looking for something different and adventurous, you might consider trying game meat like venison. These meats come from animals such as deer, elk, or wild boar, and are known for their unique flavors and leaner profiles.

Some grocery stores and specialty butcher shops may carry game meats, allowing you to explore new culinary experiences.

Restrictions on Prepared/Marinated Meat

While you can use your EBT benefits to purchase various types of meat, it’s important to note that there may be restrictions when it comes to buying prepared or marinated meats. Prepared meats typically include items like pre-seasoned chicken breasts or marinated steak tips.

These restrictions vary by state, so it’s best to check with your local SNAP office or the USDA website for specific guidelines in your area.

It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding EBT purchases before heading to the grocery store. By doing so, you can make informed decisions about the types of specialty meats you can purchase with your benefits and ensure a smooth shopping experience.

Using EBT at Butcher Shops and Specialty Stores

While EBT can be used at many grocery stores and supermarkets, you may be wondering if you can also buy meat at butcher shops and specialty stores.

Let’s take a closer look at how EBT works at these establishments.

Authorized SNAP Retailers

First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all butcher shops and specialty stores accept EBT. To be eligible to accept EBT payments, retailers must be authorized by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Authorized SNAP retailers are required to meet certain criteria and follow specific guidelines set by the program. These guidelines ensure that SNAP recipients have access to a variety of nutritious food options, including meat, at authorized retailers.

Local Butcher Shops and Meat Markets

While not all local butcher shops and meat markets accept EBT, there are some that do participate in the SNAP program. These establishments often focus on providing high-quality, locally sourced meats to their customers.

By accepting EBT, they are able to make their products more accessible to a wider range of customers, including those who rely on SNAP benefits.

If you’re interested in purchasing meat using your EBT card, it’s a good idea to check with your local butcher shops and meat markets to see if they accept EBT payments. Some may display signs indicating their acceptance of EBT, while others may require you to inquire directly.

Meat Markets

Big Box Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club

In addition to local butcher shops and meat markets, some big box stores like Sam’s Club also accept EBT payments. These stores often have a wide selection of meat options, including bulk packages at discounted prices.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these stores may accept EBT, there are certain restrictions on the types of items that can be purchased with SNAP benefits.

For example, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase hot or prepared foods, alcoholic beverages, or non-food items like cleaning supplies or toiletries.

Before heading to a big box store, it’s a good idea to review the SNAP guidelines and restrictions to ensure that the meat and other food items you plan to purchase are eligible for purchase with your EBT card.

EBT Tips for Getting the Most Meat for Your Budget

When it comes to buying meat with your EBT card, there are several tips and strategies you can use to stretch your budget and get the most value for your money.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re able to provide your family with nutritious and delicious meat options without breaking the bank.

Compare Prices and Look for Sales

One of the best ways to make the most of your EBT benefits when buying meat is to compare prices at different stores and look for sales. Different grocery stores may have different prices for the same cuts of meat, so it’s worth taking the time to do some research and find the best deals.

Look for weekly sales flyers or browse online to find discounts on meat products. By being mindful of sales and comparing prices, you can save a significant amount of money on your meat purchases.

Buy in Bulk When Possible

Buying meat in bulk can be a cost-effective way to make your EBT benefits go further. Look for larger packages of meat, such as family packs or bulk discounts, which can often be more affordable per pound.

You can then portion out the meat into smaller amounts and freeze what you don’t immediately need. This way, you can have a steady supply of meat without having to make frequent trips to the store.

buy in bulk

Focus on Lower-Cost Cuts

If you’re on a tight budget, focusing on lower-cost cuts of meat can help you get more for your money. For example, cuts like chicken thighs, drumsticks, and pork shoulder tend to be more affordable than premium cuts like chicken breasts or tenderloin.

These cuts may require longer cooking times or different preparation methods, but they can still be delicious and nutritious options.

Use or Freeze Meat Before Expiration

It’s important to keep an eye on the expiration dates of the meat you purchase with your EBT card. To avoid wasting money, make sure to use or freeze the meat before it expires.

Properly storing meat in the freezer can help extend its shelf life, allowing you to enjoy it at a later date. If you’re unsure about how to properly freeze and thaw meat, there are many resources available online that can provide guidance.

Combine with Other Proteins like Beans

Another way to make the most of your EBT benefits when buying meat is to combine it with other protein sources like beans. Beans are an affordable and nutritious alternative that can help stretch your meat budget.

By incorporating beans into your meals, you can reduce the amount of meat you need to purchase while still ensuring that you’re getting the necessary protein.

By following these EBT tips, you can make the most of your budget when buying meat. Remember to compare prices, buy in bulk, focus on lower-cost cuts, use or freeze meat before expiration, and combine it with other proteins like beans.

With a little bit of planning and smart shopping, you can provide your family with delicious and nutritious meals without overspending.


Getting enough healthy protein is vital for every family. With this guide, you now understand all your options for purchasing meat through the SNAP/EBT program.

From fresh chicken breasts to deli sandwiches to canned tuna, meat is an allowable purchase with your benefits.

Using tips like comparing prices, buying in bulk, and focusing on less expensive cuts can help you get the most meat for your EBT budget. Pairing plant proteins like beans with meat is another great way to stretch your benefits.

Hopefully, this article gave you the thorough details you need to shop for meat successfully with your EBT card.

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