1. Brand name items
Last time I stopped in at my local Dollar Tree, I was floored to see all of the name brand items that they carried! Everything from Betty Crocker brownie mix to Stonyfield Yogurt, Uncle Ben's rice and tons more. After perusing the aisles, I discovered that they carried quite a few of the items that I typically purchase at grocery stores, but for a fraction of the price. So just how do they get those big-brand names? Well, dollar stores actually purchase directly from the manufacturers and typically take their overstock or items that have had packaging changes. Many manufacturers also create special smaller sized items just for dollar stores. And what makes these finds even better is that most dollar stores, including Dollar Tree and Dollar General, accept manufacturer coupons, which means you can often score these items for free!
2. Canned and jarred goods
Canned goods can be another great find when it comes to dollar store shopping. Although you should be cautious when purchasing canned vegetables from no-name companies, as these are typically of a much lower quality and not much cheaper than other brands, there can be some real bargains in this aisle! Last time I shopped at my nearby Dollar Tree, I found canned pumpkin for $1—a product that typically runs about $2.79 at my Safeway! I also discovered canned coconut milk and jarred olives for about a third of the cost as most grocers, and all three had ingredients almost identical to the grocery store brands that I usually purchase.
3. Packaged beans
There are quite a few items that I keep as constant staples in my pantry. These include things such as pasta, rice, canned items and, of course, beans! Dried beans are super easy to store, last what seems like forever, and can be used to cook up hundreds of meals! For these reasons, I typically grab a few bags each time I go to the grocery store. However, once I discovered that my local Dollar Tree carries 12-ounce dried pinto and kidney beans for $1 a bag, I started purchasing them there instead. The same size bag typically runs about $1.79 at Kroger, and the quality is nearly identical. In the past, I’ve also spotted chickpeas, black beans and even lentils at different dollar stores in my area—and all for a buck!
If there’s one thing that I can never resist it’s candy! Chocolates, gummies, nougat-filled goodies—you name it! And fortunately, dollar stores typically carry all of these! In addition to single serve candy bars (which are often 2/$1) I’ve found bags of Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, Pop Rocks—all for a buck.
5. Frozen foods
Although the frozen food section at most dollar stores is rather small, you may be surprised at what you’ll find in there. In addition to brand name items such as Michelina’s Pizza Rolls and Ore-Ida Grillers, you’ll often find frozen vegetables and frozen fruit for half of what you’ll pay elsewhere. On a recent trip to a dollar store, I found 16-ounce bags of frozen peaches and 12-ounce bags of frozen blackberries and blueberries—all for a dollar! Similar items are priced anywhere from $1.50 to nearly $3.00 at other supermarkets. I’ve also found similar deals on frozen vegetables such as stir-fry mixes, frozen brocolli and mixed veggies.
I would have never imagined that my local dollar store would actually carry fresh produce, but many dollar stores are venturing into this arena. In fact, I often find bananas, onions and carrots at a nearby 99 Cents Only store and am able to pick up a large bundle of bananas or a bag of Earthbound carrots for less than a dollar—both of which would cost me 2-3 times as much anywhere else. If the dollar store that you typically frequent doesn’t carry produce, try calling others in your area to find out which ones do, and be sure to ask which days produce comes in to ensure that you get the freshest lot. And, as always, be sure to inspect your produce because no one likes smooshy bananas—even if they are only a buck!