Are you shopping on a Budget? No matter what your income is, we all like to save money where we can. Here are some tips for spending less money on food, especially when shopping at your local dollar store(s).
Tip 1: Be Familiar with the Food (Items/Products) Offered
Every dollar store offers different items; some may have a frozen aisle while others serve primarily canned goods. Do a little research before buying your groceries, so you know which food items (perishable, fresh, or frozen) you can get for a bargain.
Tip 2: Try a Different Food Brand
Sometimes we are afraid to try something new or fear that the dollar store only carries low-quality food items. However, dollar stores often offer well-known national brands as well as regional foods that you may have never heard of before. Although just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean its low quality. Do a little homework and compare those ingredients. You’ll be surprised by the similarities. If the ingredients look similar, why not give it a try? It can be tasty to save money.
Tip 3: Notice the Price
When we think of Dollar Stores, usually we think cheap. However, that’s often not the case. You’re not always getting a bargain for your money, so compare prices to similar food items to see if you’re truly getting the best deal.
Tip 4: Observe the Package Size(s)
Dollar stores may seem inexpensive, but if you look closely, you’ll notice it’s because of how they package their items. Compared to other grocery stores, dollar stores may sell items in smaller packages. Thus, this may be useful for someone who only needs a small amount of a product, because then the portion size is relevant for the individual. However, if you need to buy in bulk, you may want to reconsider because audiences who have a set budget may be spending more if they’re buying groceries based on unit price. Therefore, observe those packages to determine if these items are going to help or hinder your wallet.
Tip 5: Lookout for Expiration Dates
This tip applies to all food products/items. It’s essential to lookout out for those “sell-by” or “use-by” stamped dates. You want to get the best quality food for your dollar. Thus, by buying only what you can eat before the expiration date. Otherwise, you’re not getting the most out of your purchase, and the excess food goes to waste. So be savvy with those dates.
Tip 6: Read What You’re Buying (aka Food Labels)
It’s essential to read food labels in general, so you know what you’re buying. As mention above, it’s good to check the ingredient list and compare it to other items. However, it’s also wise to know the nutritional content. For example, canned fruit can be packed with juice or heavy syrup. Both have different calorie and sugar amounts. Therefore, read your label because cheap food isn’t always the most nutritious.
Bonus Tip: Coupons, Benefits, and Apps, Oh My!
Most dollar stores accept coupons, SNAP benefits, and WIC Vouchers. Although, call your local dollar store first because coupon and benefit/voucher policies vary among dollar store chains. If your dollar store does accept coupons, check on their limit. Some stores have a limit on the number of coupons they’ll take from a customer in a single day.
You may also want to check your dollar store website. Some dollar stores even offer coupons that you can save/download from the internet as well as let you shop online. They may also have an app that can help you with your grocery shopping savings. So do a little digging to help with your everyday shopping needs.
**Information focuses on dollar stores; however, these tips may be applied to any discount or close-out store. **
Download the full Dollar Store Handout here.
Dinning at the Dollar Store by Jenna D. Anding, Ph.D., RDN, LD: Associate Department Head for Extension, Professor and Extension Specialist; Department of Nutrition. Texas A&M AgriLife.