How to Create a Pescaterian Meal Plan While on SNAP
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One of the main reasons that the food stamp program became SNAP was because the program wanted to redefine itself as a healthy offering to those in need. There were many changes that made it easier for participants to purchase foods with rich, nutritional value. Because of those changes, SNAP is much friendlier for anyone that is on a special diet, such as the pescaterian diet. The pescaterian diet is sometimes referred to as a pseudo-vegetarian diet. The diet primarily cuts out all meats, but it still allows the dieter to eat seafood. Unfortunately, even with SNAP benefits, healthier foods are a little difficult to buy, because they are often more expensive. However, it is still possible for SNAP participants to stay on pescaterian diets. More information about how to create a pescaterian diet while on SNAP is covered below.
Fruits and Vegetables
Since the pescaterian diet is mainly vegetarian, the bulk of food that SNAP participants purchase is fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are very healthy, but they can also be incredibly pricey. There are a couple of general tips for buying fruits and vegetables while on SNAP. The first tip for SNAP participants requires doing a little research. Participants can search online to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season, as well as which ones are grown locally. Fruits and vegetables that stores have to buy from other locations are naturally more expensive, since the store needs to pay more for these items to be delivered. Another added benefit is buying fruits and vegetables in season, which means they will ultimately be fresher than foods brought in from out of state.
Another trick to saving money with fruits and vegetables is purchasing them when bagged. Some stores sell fruits and vegetables by weight. Buying by weight might seem nice, since it gives shoppers a little more customization regarding the size of their purchases, but it costs more money to buy fruits and vegetables this way, especially since many grocery chains round the weight up. Overall, the costs increases are not that drastic, but it can make the difference for a SNAP participant trying to effectively budget funds for the month. With vegetables, shoppers should also consider buying frozen vegetables over canned ones. Not only are frozen vegetables less expensive than bagged ones, but they are also the healthier choice.
A pescaterian diet allows for some seafood, but there are some restrictions. Seafood is allowed, but there are many fish that are rich in mercury. The pescaterian diet allows for minimal amounts of mercury, but there are some types of seafood which are very high in mercury and should be avoided. Shark, mackerel, tilefish and swordfish are all very high in mercury. Some healthier alternatives which contain only minimal mercury include tuna, trout, cod, catfish, salmon, tilapia, halibut and ocean perch. Any type of shellfish is fine for a pescaterian diet, since they contain minimal amounts of mercury, but they are also one of the most common allergies in the United States, so not everyone can have them.
When purchasing seafood, many of the same tips for fruits and vegetables apply. SNAP participants should look up what fish are local to Pennsylvania, as well as when the fish are in season. Fish that are out of season are significantly more expensive than fruits and vegetables that are out of season.
Purchasing seafood is a very important part of the pescaterian diet. Since the diet excludes meat, seafood is often the only way dieters get the necessary amount of protein. Seafood is also rich in healthy vitamins. Normally, dieters could purchase vitamins and other supplements if they do not have access to fish. Buying vitamins and supplements is much harder for SNAP participants, since those items are not covered by their EBT cards.
One of the changes SNAP introduced is allowing farmers markets to accept EBT cards. Not all farmers markets accept EBT cards, since the sellers still have to get approval just like any other store would. Not many farmers know they have to apply for these benefits, so SNAP participants are encouraged to bring it up at their local markets.
Whenever possible, buying fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market is recommended. Farmers have much better prices than grocery chains, and the food is always guaranteed to be fresh. Participants that shop at a farmer’s market do not have to worry about doing research, since farmers only sell food that is fresh and in season.