Can You Buy Ensure With Food Stamps? [Get The Facts]

If you’ve been using food stamps for any length of time, you’ll know that there are plenty of gray areas as to which items are approved. Some products, like tobacco and alcohol, are obviously not permitted. But what about other items? 

For example, can you buy ice? Yes. Can you buy pet food? No. Some rules may be a little confusing, especially the ones surrounding energy drinks

Let’s discuss more on whether products like Ensure, a nutritional shake, are covered by your food stamps money. 

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Table Of Contents:

Can You Buy Ensure With Food Stamps? 

Yes, you can buy Ensure with food stamps. While food stamps can’t be used to buy vitamins, medicines, or supplements, there are exceptions. 

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Products that have a Nutrition Facts label can be bought with food stamps. Products that have a Supplements Facts label are classed as supplements, and can’t be bought with food stamps

So, it’s always a good idea to check the label of a drink or smoothie before you add it to your shopping cart, to make sure it’s covered by your EBT food stamps money. 

What Can You Buy With EBT?

EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) is used to distribute SNAP/food stamps benefits. It’s designed to provide supplemental nutrition to low-income American families. 

The majority of your weekly shop will likely be covered by your EBT balance. Here’s what you can buy with EBT: 

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish 
  • Dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, and milk 
  • Bread
  • Cereals and grains
  • Seeds, to grow food at home 
  • Nuts, beans, and legumes 
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (such as juice and water)
  • Snack foods 

You’ll have plenty of choices in how you spend your EBT. You can’t overspend your EBT card, as once your balance runs out, you simply won’t be able to make purchases. 

However, if you accidentally buy something unapproved with your EBT card, you may have to pay the money back later on – or your card will be declined at the checkout. 

Any remaining money left at the end of the month will be added to next month’s benefits. 

What Can’t You Buy With EBT? 

Food stamps are designed to buy – well, food. EBT doesn’t cover non-food groceries, even essential household supplies. 

Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT: 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco products
  • Gambling (lottery tickets are included)
  • Pet food and supplies 
  • Electronics
  • Personal items, such as clothes and cosmetics
  • Hygiene and grooming products (soap, shampoo, sanitary pads, etc)
  • Household supplies (like cleaning products and paper goods)
  • Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
  • Restaurant food or fast food 
  • Hot, pre-prepared food (such as rotisserie chickens)
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Many stores allow shoppers to make multiple payments, so you can use your own money for non-food groceries, and use your EBT card to pay for food. 

The Bottom Line

While EBT benefits do come with some restrictions, they mean that millions of families have money for food every single week. 

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