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You Won’T Believe What Crazy Things You Can Buy With Ebt

If you receive SNAP food stamp benefits loaded onto an EBT card each month, you may think you can only buy basic groceries like bread, milk, and vegetables. However, there are actually some wacky, unexpected items you can purchase at the supermarket and other retailers using EBT!

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Believe it or not, your EBT card can legally be used to buy live animals, decorative pumpkins, prepared restaurant meals, and even gift baskets in some cases. However, restrictions apply in most states.

In this eye-opening article, we’ll explore some of the most outlandish, little-known items that surprisingly qualify for EBT payment under SNAP rules. You’ll learn how people use food benefits to buy everything from lobster and filet mignon to energy drinks, novelty cakes, and more.

Let’s take a look at the craziest stuff you can actually buy with EBT!

Unusual Food Items

When it comes to using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, most people think of purchasing basic necessities like fruits, vegetables, and canned goods. However, you’d be surprised to learn about some of the more unconventional food items that can be purchased with EBT.

Here are a few unusual food items that you probably didn’t know you could buy with your EBT card. Please note, though, that some states may have different rules regarding the purchase of these items.

Seafood and Steak

Contrary to popular belief, EBT cards can be used to purchase seafood and steak. While it may seem extravagant, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows the use of EBT cards to buy these items.

The reasoning behind this is to provide low-income individuals and families with access to nutritious and protein-rich food sources. So, if you’re in the mood for a delicious seafood dish or a juicy steak, you can use your EBT card to make that purchase.


Energy and Sports Drinks

Energy drinks and sports drinks are typically associated with athletes and fitness enthusiasts. These beverages can also be purchased with an EBT card.

While they may not be considered essential food items, the USDA recognizes the need for individuals to stay hydrated and energized, especially in physically demanding occupations.

So, if you’re looking for a boost of energy or a refreshing sports drink, your EBT card can be used to make that purchase.

Baked Goods

Ever wanted to try those unique and creative baked goods you see on social media? Well, with an EBT card, you can indulge in some baked goods as well as the USDA allows the purchase of these items.

While they may not be considered essential for survival, they can bring joy and happiness to families and individuals who may not have the means to afford such treats otherwise.

It’s important to note that the availability of these unusual food items may vary depending on the state and retailer. While the USDA sets guidelines, it ultimately falls on the individual states to determine what can and cannot be purchased with EBT.

So, before you head out to the grocery store or supermarket, it’s always a good idea to check the specific rules and regulations in your state.

EBT is designed to provide assistance to those in need, and while it may be surprising to learn about some of the items that can be purchased, it’s important to remember that the program aims to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food options.

So, whether it’s seafood, energy drinks, or novelty baked goods, EBT recipients have the opportunity to enjoy a diverse range of food items.

Live Animals

Generally, when it comes to using SNAP benefits, you can’t usually buy live animals as they might end up being used as livestock or pets, and SNAP benefits aren’t there for that purpose. 

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. You can purchase live shellfish like lobster, crabs, clams, and the like using your EBT benefits. Additionally, fish can be bought live right at the store, provided that it is not packaged with water upon leaving the store’s premises. 

Other live animals may also be purchased using an EBT card on the condition that they are slaughtered before the buyer goes out of the store. 

You Won’T Believe What Crazy Things You Can Buy With Ebt

Pet Food and Supplies

Another surprising item you can purchase with EBT is pet food and supplies. While this is prohibited under the SNAP guidelines, this may be allowable if one is a recipient of additional cash benefits other than SNAP.

Many people consider their pets as part of the family and ensuring their well-being is important. With cash benefits on your EBT, you can buy pet food, such as dog or cat food, to ensure your furry friends are well-fed. You can also purchase essential pet supplies like leashes, collars, bowls, and even toys to keep your pets happy and healthy.

It’s important to note that not all retailers accept EBT for live animals and pet products, so it’s essential to check with individual stores or authorized retailers in your area. However, this option provides an opportunity for individuals and families who rely on EBT benefits to care for their pets and even explore self-sustainability through backyard farming.

Household and Personal Items

When it comes to using your cash benefits on your EBT card, you may be surprised to learn that there are a variety of household and personal items that can be purchased with them.

Not only can you use your EBT card for groceries, but you can also use it for essential items that are necessary for maintaining a clean and healthy home.

Soap, Shampoo, and Toiletries

One of the most common household items that can be purchased with EBT cash benefits is soap, shampoo, and other toiletries.

These items are essential for personal hygiene and can be found in many grocery stores as well as pharmacies. So, if you’re running low on soap or need to stock up on shampoo, you can use your EBT card to purchase these items.

It’s important to note that while you can use your EBT benefits to buy these items, there may be restrictions on the types and brands that are eligible. Be sure to check with your local EBT office or refer to the official website for more information on what specific items are covered.


Seeds and Gardening Supplies

Another surprising item that can be purchased with EBT benefits is seeds and gardening supplies.

If you’re interested in growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can use your benefits to buy seeds, plants, soil, and other necessary supplies. This can be a great way to save money on fresh produce and promote self-sustainability.

By using your EBT benefits to grow your own food, you can not only provide nutritious options for yourself and your family but also learn valuable skills in gardening and self-sufficiency. Plus, there’s something satisfying about being able to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables!) of your labor.

It’s worth noting that not all states allow EBT benefits to be used for seeds and gardening supplies, so be sure to check with your local EBT office or refer to the official website for more information on what is allowed in your area.

Prepared Hot Foods and Restaurants

Did you know that you can use your EBT cash benefits to purchase prepared hot foods and prepared meals from certain restaurants? It’s true!

While EBT benefits are primarily used to purchase groceries and essential items, there are some exceptions when it comes to prepared hot foods. This can be incredibly helpful for individuals and families who may not have access to a kitchen or who are unable to cook their own meals.

Rotisserie Chicken and Fried Foods

One of the most popular options that can be purchased with EBT is rotisserie chicken. Many grocery stores and supermarkets offer delicious, ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens that can be paid for with your EBT card.

This is a great option for those days when you just don’t feel like cooking but still want a tasty and nutritious meal. Additionally, some stores also offer fried foods, such as fried chicken, that can be purchased with EBT as well.

fried chicken

Pizza, Sandwiches, and More

Another surprising option that can be purchased with EBT is pizza. Some grocery stores and even certain pizza chains allow you to use your EBT card to purchase a hot and delicious pizza. This can be a convenient and affordable option for those times when you’re craving pizza but don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Additionally, certain sandwich shops and delis also accept EBT, allowing you to enjoy a variety of sandwiches and other prepared foods.

It’s important to note that not all restaurants or food establishments accept EBT, so it’s always a good idea to check beforehand. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website provides a list of authorized retailers where you can use your EBT card, which can help you find restaurants that accept EBT in your area.

Keep in mind that there may be restrictions on the types of prepared foods that can be purchased, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the guidelines to ensure you’re making eligible purchases.

So, the next time you’re in a pinch and need a quick and convenient meal, don’t forget that you may be able to use your EBT card to purchase prepared hot foods and meals. It’s just one of the many ways that the EBT program is designed to provide assistance and support to individuals and families in need.


As we’ve illustrated, EBT benefit rules can enable cardholders to buy far more than just bread and veggies! With the right retailers, you may be able to purchase lobster tails, pumpkin lattes, birthday cakes, live chickens, and other wacky products using SNAP and cash benefits.

That said, each state implements restrictions on what can or can’t be bought with EBT at grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, restaurants, and other businesses. Be sure to consult your local SNAP office to understand exactly what is allowed in your area.

The bottom line is that your EBT card offers more surprising purchasing power than you may think when it comes to food items, pantry staples, and even live animals, in some cases! Just make sure to spend responsibly within program guidelines.

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