Karly Yemm stole £200 of the candles from the Post Office, Lowmoor Road, on July 28, but was caught on CCTV camera.
She told police she sold them for £5 apiece, to buy food and pay an electricity bill.
Yemm, 37, of Mattley Avenue, admitted the theft, at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Thursday.
Mary Dixon, mitigating, said: “She was left by her partner. She has four children, three of whom are 11 and under. She had absolutely no income whatsoever.”
The court heard she was last convicted for an offence of dishonesty in 2010.
Yemm was given a 12 month conditional discharge, and was ordered to pay £200 compensation, and £85 court costs, which will be deducted from benefits.