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7 grocery staples you should buy from the dollar store

Frozen food section at dollar tree
Marie Rossiter/DWYM

Shaving money off your grocery haul each week can really add up, even if it’s just a few dollars at a time. Think about it: If you save just $10 a week on average, by the end of the year you’ve kept $520 in your pocket. While it’s nice to get everything you need in one stop, making an extra trip to the dollar store for grocery items can help you eat well on a tight budget.

While a lot of people head to their local dollar store for school supplies or party items, the store’s food options can be just as thrifty. However, keep in mind that goods at some places, such as Dollar Tree, aren’t just $1 anymore. Prices there can clock in at upwards of $1.25 thanks to a price hike back in 2021, and some items are even $3 and $5.

Similarly, at Family Dollar everything is sold at heavily discounted prices, but is not necessarily $1. It’s best to remember that wherever you’re shopping for food, you should consider the unit price versus the total price.

MORE: Which dollar store is the best?

Man with dollars and calculator

We’ve rounded up a list of seven grocery items that you’re better off picking up from the dollar store — and some of them might surprise you!

Herbs And Spices

Adding herbs and spices to a dish can greatly enhance flavor without drastically increasing the cost. The next time you run out of garlic powder, consider picking it up at a dollar store. Family Dollar sells a 6.5-ounce bottle for $1, while a smaller bottle (5.37 ounces) will cost you $2.59 at Target. Just be sure to check the expiration date before purchasing.

Coconut Milk

Canned coconut milk is a shelf-stable ingredient that can add a rich, creamy flavor to curries, soups, desserts, sauces and other dishes. Be sure to pick up a can at Dollar Tree for $1.25, because a generic brand will run you $1.98 or more at Walmart.

Juice

If you have kids, you probably go through gobs of juice boxes, but the price for a conveniently packaged serving can really add up. A 4-pack of Juicy Juice at Dollar Tree is a killer deal at just $1.25, especially when you compare it to a $27.80 32-count bulk buy at Walmart. After doing the math, the dollar store version offers each box at roughly $0.31 each compared to $0.86 each at Walmart.

Chili

If you’re hungry and need to whip up a budget-conscious meal, cracking open a can of chili can fill you up in a pinch, and for just pennies. A 15-ounce can of all-beef chili is just $1.25 at Dollar Tree, while the same size of a generic can of beef chili is $1.63 at Walmart, and even more at Target.

Dried Rice

Whether you’re a fan of sushi rice, basmati rice, brown rice or white rice, rice at the dollar store tends to be much cheaper than at other stores. Pick up a 2-pound bag of white long-grain rice at Dollar Tree instead of Target, where it will run you $.54 more for a bag from their generic brand, Good & Gather.

Beans

From lima beans, to pinto and kidney beans, it’s wise to stock up on dry beans on your next dollar store shopping spree. A 32-ounce bag of Great Value pinto beans will cost you $1.98 at Walmart — that’s $.73 more than you’ll find for at Dollar Tree.

Condiments

Ketchup and mustard are kitchen — and outdoor barbecue — staples. Brand-name varieties often cost less at the dollar store. For example, find this 20-ounce bottle of Hunt’s Ketchup for $1.25 at Dollar Tree compared to $1.38 at Walmart.

Do you frequent dollar stores? We’d love to hear what your favorite thing is to buy.

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. More.

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