David Frazier, aged 52, of Dean Road, Birmingham, had been made homeless and penniless following the death of his cousin and had taken to crime to feed himself, a district judge was told.
Miss Sara Beddow, prosecuting at Telford Magistrates Court on Tuesday, said: "It is a straightforward case of shop thefts. He was caught on CCTV and there were witnesses."
In one incident of an attempted theft, at B&M Bargains in Telford on February 15 he had been seen by a member of staff picking up a £50 airfryer.
"He had put the airfryer back on the shelf after being confronted by a member of staff. He said that times are hard," said Miss Beddow.
"He said he had wanted to eat."
But the court was also told that Frazier had wanted to sell items to pay for drugs. He has previous convictions of a similar nature going back to 2003 but since then had a clean record.
Frazier also admitted stealing a dog lead and earphones to the value of £13 from Tesco in Telford on February 2.
Later on in the month he turned to a One Stop Shop in Telford and stole various items of food to the value of £15.60, £18.37, £4, and £13.35 on February 8, and February 13, February 14, February 15.
He also stole £5 of food from Tesco Express on February 17, and went back to One Stop Shop on February 18 where he stole Dunkin Donuts, to the value of £2.50.
Clare Stephens, mitigating, said: "It was a blip. He was living with his cousin in Telford and he had died, leaving him homeless with no food and no money.
"He said he had needed to shoplift to feed himself."
She added that Frazier was now dealing with his drug addiction and had accommodation sorted in Birmingham.
"He is trying to turn his life around and trying to make a new start."
District Judge Ian Barnes said there had clearly been a sequence of events in his life.
"You got away with it and went back to the same places. You had clearly got your life back on track but had slipped back.
"I hope that you deal with your problems for your own sake," said judge Barnes.
Judge Barnes handed Frazier a conditional discharge for two years but warned him not to appear before the courts again in that time.
Frazier was also ordered to pay costs of £185, a victim surcharge of £25 and to repay £5 to Tesco and £53.82 to One Stop Shop.
He will have to pay the £269.82 total at the rate of £20 a week from his benefits.
The court was told that the ear plugs and the dog lead were recovered.