Food is one of your household's biggest expenditures. So attack that grocery bill at the ninety-nine cent store! Dollar stores have been expanding their food offerings, and they're a great place to find amazing savings. We spoke with consumer expert Lisa Lee Freeman who shared the dos and don'ts of dollar store food.
1. Take Packaged Foods for a Test Drive
For starters, take packaged foods for a test drive. Dollar store chains are offering more variety than ever! “Stores are carrying all kinds of stuff – from eggs to frozen veggies. Even steaks and cold cuts,” explains Lisa. These foods often spell significant savings. “I found an amazing deal on sliced turkey. The price was about twenty-five percent cheaper at the dollar store,” adds Lisa.
But some of the brands are different from what you usually see at national chain supermarkets. So buy just a little to start. “If your family doesn't like that brand, it's a waste,” offers Lisa. If they don't eat it, you'll wind up with an open package of dollar store cold cuts. And not all dollar stores will take back opened items. So be sure to ask if they do. And, of course, save the receipts until it's either eaten, returned, or exchanged.
2. Compare Ingredients
Tip number two is to compare ingredients – especially if you're a picky eater! “Dollar stores are offering more and more packaged foods, but they're not necessarily offering healthier options like low-fat, low-salt, and organic versions, like the supermarkets,” warns Lisa. Here’s an example: “I found a box of granola bars that was very similar to a Quaker Oats granola bar, but the top of the ingredient list was corn syrup, versus granola in the Quaker Oats brand. So, you know, you might not want to buy that particular product,” says Lisa. Thanks for the heads up, girl!
Ingredients aren’t the only thing you’ll want to check on the labels. “Be sure to check expiration dates, because in some cases dollar stores take items from warehouses that may have been sitting around for a while,” advises Lisa.
3. Buy in Bulk
Next, check the website, because some dollar stores let you buy in bulk. For instance, Dollar Tree sells bulk sizes that they'll ship for free in-store pickup. “Fourteen boxes of Honey Nut Toasted Oats cereal for just a buck a box,” shares Lisa. And if the thought of storing fourteen boxes of cereal drives you to drink, head to the dollar store for our last tip.
4. Uncork Savings on Booze
Finally, whip out the wine glasses and uncork some savings on booze. “A lot of dollar stores are now carrying wine and beer. And the prices are amazing!” informs Lisa. “I saw some pretty good reviews for Dollar General's Spring Creek brand.” Ya know – because nothing sets a romantic mood like a bottle of dollar store wine, right?!
If you love saving money, then you probably love dollars stores. And now you know four ways to save money on your next trip!
Got any dollar store hacks to share? Sound off in the comments below!