19 Surprising Things You Can Buy with EBT (Bonus!)

Here is the complete list of surprising things you can buy with EBT card on Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, Target, Publix, Costco, and other likewise shopping centers and marts.

So, are you one of the millions of Americans receiving benefits through the EBT program? Did you know that your EBT card can buy more than just groceries? There are many other surprising items that you can purchase with your EBT benefits.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the unexpected items that you can get with your EBT card.

What is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?

EBT is a secure and efficient system used by government assistance programs to electronically distribute benefits to eligible recipients.

The primary purpose of EBT is to streamline the process of providing financial support for purchasing food and other essential items.

The most well-known program that utilizes EBT is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which aims to help low-income individuals and families afford nutritious meals.

EBT cards function similarly to debit cards, with benefits being deposited directly into the recipient’s account each month. Recipients can use their EBT card at authorized retailers to buy eligible items like groceries and other essentials.

Each state manages its own EBT system, ensuring that the process is tailored to meet the specific needs of residents in that region.

Now, the question is what are those places where you can use your EBT card to purchase different things?

Places that Accept EBT Food Stamps

Here is a list of places that accept EBT payments:

  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Specialty stores, such as health food stores and organic food stores
  • Farmers markets
  • Local food co-ops
  • Convenience stores / corner stores
  • Some restaurants
  • Some online retailers

One way to check if a certain store or restaurant accepts EBT is by using the SNAP Retailer Locator provided by the USDA. Alternatively, you can reach out to the store or restaurant and inquire about their EBT acceptance.

Moreover, there are certain restrictions on what EBT cards can be used to purchase. For instance, hot foods and prepared meals, such as those from a deli counter or restaurant, cannot be bought using EBT.

Recipients are not allowed to use their EBT cards to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or non-food items like personal care products and household supplies.

It’s important to note that EBT benefits are intended solely for the cardholder and their household members, meaning that buying food for neighbors, friends, or other individuals is not permitted.

Besides all of these restrictions, did you know that there are a whole bunch of surprising things you can buy with EBT?

Let’s check them out…

Surprising Things you Can Buy with EBT 2023

We are pretty sure that many EBT cardholders are not aware of certain items they can buy with EBT benefits. Hence, we have made an extensive list of surprising items you can buy with EBT card.

It includes the following items –


1. Energy Drinks

The eligibility of purchasing energy drinks with EBT varies based on the state of residence. Some states categorize energy drinks as food and allow their purchase through EBT. Nonetheless, in other states, energy drinks are categorized as non-food items and cannot be purchased with EBT.

Here are some states where you can buy energy drinks with EBT:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois

2. Coffee and Tea

EBT cards offer recipients the flexibility to purchase a variety of food items, including coffee and tea.

However, it’s essential to be aware of specific limitations when using your EBT benefits for these beverages.

What other surprising things you can buy with EBT –

  • Coffee and Tea Grounds, Beans, and Bags: EBT can be used to purchase various coffee and tea products, such as grounds, beans, and bags. This option allows you to enjoy your favorite hot beverages at home while utilizing your benefits.
  • Cold Coffee Drinks: EBT can also be applied to cold coffee drinks like iced coffee and iced tea. Although these beverages may be slightly more expensive than their hot counterparts, they serve as a refreshing alternative on warm days.

What you cannot buy with EBT –

  • Hot Coffee and Tea: EBT benefits cannot be used to purchase hot coffee and tea, as they are classified as prepared foods. This restriction applies to beverages served in cups or mugs and those made on-site at restaurants or coffee shops.

3. Hunting and Fishing Gear

EBT is a program designed to provide food assistance to low-income individuals and families. Administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), EBT has specific guidelines regarding what can be purchased with the benefits, focusing primarily on food items.

As a general rule, you cannot buy hunting and fishing gear with EBT in most states, as these items are not considered food.

However, there are a few exceptions for those who rely on subsistence hunting and fishing as a primary source of food in rural areas.

In certain remote states like Alaska, EBT can be used to purchase hunting and fishing gear for subsistence purposes, provided you meet specific requirements. These may include having a valid hunting or fishing license, providing proof of residency in the state, and obtaining a statement from a state-approved agency verifying your reliance on hunting and fishing for sustenance.

To determine if you are eligible to use EBT for hunting and fishing gear purchases, it’s best to contact your local SNAP office for more information and guidance.

4. Restaurant Meals

While EBT benefits are typically used for purchasing groceries and food items at retail stores, some states participate in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). This program allows specific enrollees to use their benefits to buy prepared meals at certain participating restaurants.

To qualify for the RMP, EBT recipients must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Be aged 60 or older
  • Have a disability
  • Be experiencing homelessness

Currently, the states that participate in the RMP include Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

It’s important to note that not all restaurants accept EBT, and only those that have opted into the RMP will allow eligible EBT holders to purchase meals with their benefits.

5. Seeds and Plants

You can buy seeds and plants with EBT. According to the SNAP guidelines set by the USDA, recipients of SNAP benefits can use their EBT card to purchase seeds and plants that are intended to grow food for household consumption. This includes fruit and vegetable plants, as well as herbs.

However, it is important to note that EBT cannot be used to purchase non-food-producing plants, such as –

  • Non-food plants: These include plants that are not intended for human consumption, such as ornamental plants, flowers, and trees.
  • Seeds and plants that are used to make alcohol or tobacco products: These include seeds and plants such as hops, barley, and tobacco.
  • Seeds and plants that are considered to be luxury items: These include seeds and plants such as orchids, cacti, and succulents.

6. Gift Baskets

Using EBT benefits for purchasing essential food items is the primary purpose of the program. In some cases, you may be able to purchase gift baskets containing multiple food items with your EBT card.

However, it’s important to be aware of the limitations and the types of food items typically included in gift baskets.

Gift baskets usually consist of non-perishable, dry, and processed foods that can be stored for extended periods. They generally do not include fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, or fish. These items need to be bought individually to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

Themed gift baskets, like a chocolate Valentine’s bundle, may be eligible for purchase with EBT, as long as all the items within the basket are compliant with SNAP guidelines.

However, it’s essential to remember that the primary goal of EBT is to support access to nutritious food items for you and your household, rather than focusing on specialty or themed baskets.

7. Live Lobsters

Yes, you can buy live lobsters with EBT. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows people to purchase certain food items with their benefits.

Live seafood such as lobsters, fish and shellfish may be purchased with SNAP benefits. You can also purchase items like shrimp, lobster, fish, crab, mussels, and oysters using your food stamps.

Many seafood markets accept EBT, as do many grocery stores that carry fresh seafood.

When shopping for live seafood with your EBT card, it’s important to remember that you cannot use it to pay for cooked or ready-to-eat food at the store. This means that you must buy the seafood in its raw form and cook it yourself at home.

8. Snacks

With the SNAP, you can purchase a variety of snacks and other food items. SNAP benefits can be used to buy snack foods such as chips, crackers, nuts, seeds, and energy drinks.

However, not all snacks are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Texas has recently proposed a bill that would prohibit people from using their SNAP benefits to buy candy, beverages and other unhealthy snacks.

Therefore it is important to check the eligibility of items before purchasing them with your SNAP benefits.

9. Canned Vegetables

Under the SNAP guidelines, EBT can be used to purchase a variety of food items, including canned vegetables.

Canned vegetables are an eligible food item because they contribute to a nutritious diet and have a longer shelf life compared to fresh vegetables.

Using your EBT card, you can buy various types of canned vegetables, such as green beans, corn, peas, carrots, and mixed vegetables.

These items can be found in most grocery stores and supermarkets that accept EBT payments.

10. Pantry Staples

EBT benefits can be used to purchase a variety of food items, including pantry staples.

Pantry staples are essential food items that have a longer shelf life and are commonly used in preparing meals.

Using your EBT card, you can buy various pantry staples such as canned goods, dry goods, frozen foods, nuts and seeds, and spices and herbs.

11. Toys With Food

Toys that include candy or food are eligible for purchase with EBT on Amazon. These include Groovy Growing Candy Lab and Rainbow Gummy Candy Lab.

Walmart also offers a variety of toys for babies 12 to 24 months that are eligible for purchase with EBT, such as Sesame Street Toys, Kids G Wagon, Sesame Street L Laugh, and Playskool.

Snap Toys is another retailer that accepts EBT for eligible items. They design and bring to market fun, engaging, quality toys for kids of all ages by creating unique characters and reinventing classic play.

In addition to these retailers, Jack Link’s, Oreo, Gatorade, Frito Lay, Planters Kraft and Maruchan also offer products that can be purchased using EBT on Amazon.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

In some states, EBT can be used to purchase toys with food if the food items make up more than 50% of the total value of the toy.

For example, a toy that comes with a small package of candy would be eligible for purchase with EBT if the candy makes up more than 50% of the total value of the toy.

12. Non-Alcoholic Beverages

You can use your EBT benefits to buy non-alcoholic beverages as they are categorized as food.

Some examples of such beverages include:

  • Water
  • Juice
  • Soda
  • Iced tea
  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Non-alcoholic beer

Please be aware that certain states have limitations on the kinds of non-alcoholic drinks that can be bought using EBT.

For example, some states prohibit the use of EBT to buy energy drinks or sports drinks.

If you’re unsure if a non-alcoholic drink can be bought with EBT, asking a store employee is the safest option.

13. Dairy Products

It is possible to buy dairy products with EBT Food Stamp benefits. Dairy products are considered food and are eligible for purchase with EBT benefits.

Examples of dairy products that can be purchased with EBT include –

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs

When shopping for dairy products with an EBT card, it is important to remember that only certain types of dairy products may be purchased with SNAP benefits.

For example, organic or specialty items such as soy milk or almond milk may not be eligible for purchase with an EBT card.

14. Food online

While the majority of SNAP purchases must be made in-person at stores that accept EBT cards, some states have begun to offer online purchasing options for SNAP recipients.

At this time, only a few states offer online ordering and delivery of food and groceries using SNAP benefits.

These include –

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington

In these states, SNAP recipients can use their EBT cards to purchase food online from participating retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.

If you are not sure, it is important to check with your local Department of Social Services or other relevant agency in order to determine what options are available in your area.

15. Water and bags of Ice

The SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, allows recipients to purchase water and bags of ice with their EBT card. This includes both bottled water and carbonated water, as well as any size bag of ice.

In certain states, vending machines located in non-food areas such as parking lots or hallways cannot accept EBT payments for bottled water or ice.

16. Protein Powders, Bars, and Shakes

The eligibility of protein powders, bars, and shakes for EBT purchases depends on the state you live in. While some states consider them as food and allow their purchase with EBT benefits, others classify them as supplements and do not permit their purchase with EBT.

In order to purchase these items with your SNAP benefits, the product must have a “Nutrition Facts” label. This means that most vitamins and supplements are not eligible for SNAP purchase.

However, there are some meal replacement shakes that can be purchased with food stamps (EBT). It depends on the brand of the shake; make sure to check the label before making a purchase.

If you’re looking for other ways to get your daily dose of protein, consider buying protein bars or shakes instead. These products provide similar benefits as protein powder but may be eligible for SNAP purchase.

There are plenty of options available when it comes to getting your daily dose of protein while using EBT benefits. Make sure to read labels carefully and contact your local SNAP office if you have any questions about what is eligible for purchase.

17. Baby Formula

SNAP benefits recipients can buy baby food, including infant formula, cereals, juices, and other eligible food items.

SNAP benefits can only be used to buy store-brand baby food and formula rather than other more expensive brands.

The USDA has stated that you can use SNAP EBT funds to purchase baby formula, baby food, infant cereals, juice, and other eligible food items.

Parents and caregivers experiencing food insecurity often must make tough decisions when it comes to providing for their families. Fortunately, the USDA’s SNAP allows them to purchase store brand baby formula with their EBT card in order to provide their children with the nutrition they need without compromising on safety or quality.

18. Bakery Cakes and Edible Food Decorations

Bakery items such as bread, cookies, cakes, and other pastries are all eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits as long as the store is an approved SNAP retailer.

In addition to bakery items, edible decorations such as cake decorations, icing, and other food decorations are also eligible for purchase with EBT cards.

However, it is important to note that any non-edible items such as candles or plastic cake toppers are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

When shopping at a grocery store or bakery that accepts EBT cards, shoppers should be sure to check the item’s label carefully before making a purchase to ensure that it is eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

19. Military Commissary Items

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) allows customers to use SNAP benefits to purchase eligible food items at all of its stores.

Customers must present their EBT card and a valid form of identification when making purchases.

In 2020, DeCA extended shopping privileges to disabled Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and primary family caregivers of eligible Veterans. These individuals are also able to use SNAP benefits at DeCA stores.

When using an EBT card at a commissary, customers may be subject to user fees if paying with the MILITARY STAR® card, cash or EBT.

However, these fees are waived for active duty service members and their families who receive SNAP benefits.

The commissaries also accept WIC and food stamp vouchers which can be used at both on-base commissary and Exchange stores and off-base markets.

It is important to note that not all items available in the store will be eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits so it is best to check ahead of time before making any purchases.

10 Excellent Tips on Budgeting while using an EBT Card

Budgeting while using an EBT card is essential to ensure you make the most of your benefits and maintain a healthy diet.

Here are some tips to help you budget effectively –

  1. Plan your meals: Create a meal plan for the entire month, focusing on affordable, nutritious ingredients. This will help you determine what items to buy and prevent impulse purchases.
  2. Make a shopping list: Based on your meal plan, create a shopping list to ensure you only buy the necessary items. Stick to the list when shopping to avoid overspending.
  3. Shop at discount stores: Look for grocery stores and supermarkets that offer lower prices or discounts on food items. Some stores may also have special sales or promotions for EBT users.
  4. Purchase in-season produce: Fruits and vegetables tend to be more affordable and flavorful when they are in season. Focus on buying in-season produce to maximize your benefits.
  5. Buy in bulk: Purchasing non-perishable items in bulk can save you money in the long run. Items like rice, beans, and canned goods are ideal for bulk purchases. Just ensure you have enough storage space at home.
  6. Cook from scratch: Cooking meals from scratch is often more cost-effective than buying pre-made or processed foods. This approach also allows you to control the ingredients, making it healthier.
  7. Use coupons and store loyalty programs: Take advantage of coupons, store loyalty programs, and sales to maximize your savings.
  8. Compare prices: Before making a purchase, compare prices across different brands and stores to find the best deal.
  9. Focus on nutritious options: Prioritize healthy and nutrient-dense foods to ensure you get the most value out of your EBT benefits.
  10. Monitor your spending: Keep track of your EBT balance and spending throughout the month to make sure you’re staying within your budget.

By following these tips, you can stretch your EBT benefits and maintain a healthy, balanced diet for you and your household.

FAQs about Surprising Things you can Buy with EBT (Food Stamps)

Can I Buy Dog Food with EBT?

No, you cannot buy dog food with your EBT card. SNAP benefits are specifically designed to help eligible individuals and families purchase food items for human consumption. Pet food is not considered an eligible item under the SNAP guidelines.

Can I Buy Vitamins with EBT Card?

No, you cannot buy vitamins or dietary supplements with your EBT card. Vitamins and dietary supplements are not considered eligible food items under the SNAP guidelines.

Can I Buy Frozen Food with EBT?

Yes, you can buy frozen food with your EBT card. Frozen food items, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and pre-packaged meals, are considered eligible for purchase under the SNAP guidelines as long as they are intended for human consumption and do not contain any prohibited items like alcohol or hot foods.

Can I Get Cash Back with EBT Card?

No, cash back offers are typically given when you use a credit or debit card to make a purchase. When you use an EBT card, your purchase is deducted directly from your benefits balance. There is no opportunity to earn cash back.

Can you Withdraw Cash with EBT Card?

No, you cannot withdraw cash with an EBT card used for SNAP benefits (food stamps). However, if you receive cash assistance through programs like TANF or General Assistance, you may be able to withdraw cash from that portion of your EBT card at an ATM or get cash back at participating stores.

What Free Stuff Can I get with EBT?

You can get free or discounted items with EBT, such as fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, meat and dairy products at grocery stores, school lunches, summer meals for children, and specific foods through the WIC program.


It may come as a surprise that you can buy such an array of items with EBT. While the list is still limited, it’s growing all the time and now includes many products you wouldn’t expect to be available with food stamps or SNAP benefits.

With this newfound knowledge, those who rely on government assistance for food purchases should consider how they could use their funds in more efficient ways while getting healthier options at discounted prices.

If you have any questions about which surprising things you can buy with EBT, contact your local state agency today so that you know exactly what products will work best for your budget!

Steven George


Steven, with 17 years of government and NGO experience, was a Federal tax specialist. He's won several awards for his work. Now, he's helping underprivileged people through NGOs.

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