These Are the Foods You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store
Shopping at the dollar store can save you some cash. But not everything at the dollar store is worth buying, even if it only costs $1. Especially when you need to do some grocery shopping, it pays to know which foods are worth the dollar — and which you should buy somewhere else.
Below, check out the foods that you should never, ever buy at the dollar store.
Clark Howard reports that while it’s tempting to stock up on spice at the dollar store, you may want to buy them elsewhere. You don’t have to shell out for name-brand spices to get high quality seasonings, according to Consumer Reports. But according to Clark Howard, the net weight of the spice bottles at the dollar store often make them a bad deal. “A 2.5 ounce container of garlic powder sells for $1 at Dollar Tree, but a 5.5 ounce container – more than double the size – is only $1.19 at Aldi,” the publication explains.
Next: Buy these snacks at the grocery store, not the dollar store.
2. Chips and pretzels
Similarly, Clark Howard recommends against stocking up on chips and pretzels at the dollar store. The publication explains, “Just like many other food items from the dollar store, bags of chips and pretzels have been shrunk to the point where you can buy them cheaper elsewhere.” And you can’t necessarily tell by the size of the bag, either. Sometimes, a larger bag contains less product than a smaller bag. You have to check the net weight listed on the packaging to figure out how much you really get.
Next: You’ll find a better deal on this beverage at the grocery store.
Wise Bread recommends against stocking up on soda at your neighborhood dollar store. The one-liter bottles of soda at dollar stores aren’t really the bargain that they seem, since you can usually buy a two-liter bottle of the same soda for only a few cents more at a conventional grocery store. The same often applies to cans and smaller bottles of soda. It pays to do some comparison shopping before you assume that the dollar store offers a good deal.
Next: This staple comes cheaper elsewhere.
4. Canned vegetables
Canned vegetables can make a healthy and budget-friendly addition to your diet. But Clark Howard reports that the dollar store isn’t the best place to buy them. That’s because major supermarkets regularly put canned vegetables on sale. So you can usually beat the dollar’s stores prices if you check the weekly ads. The publication found that while Dollar Tree charges $0.79 for a can of green beans, Aldi charges just $0.36 a can. It definitely pays to shop around for this staple!
Next: This entire category of foods is rarely a good buy at the dollar store.
5. Other canned goods
Kiplinger counts canned goods in general as one of the worst things to buy at the dollar store. The $1 price tag is tempting, but rarely a good value. The publication offers a pretty compelling example. “A 15.5 ounce can of Goya red kidney beans was $1 at Dollar Tree. At a nearby Giant supermarket, the same size can cost 79 cents. Supermarkets frequently mark down prices on canned goods, and supermarket store brands are especially cheap even when they aren’t on sale.”
Next: Don’t ever buy this meat the dollar store.
Kiplinger also recommends against buying steak at the dollar store. “While $1 for a 3.5-ounce frozen ribeye is easy on the wallet, really, should you? The dollar-store steak is sliced razor thin and, according to the packaging, is beefed up by as much as 30% solution.” Plus, the taste and texture will leave a lot to be desired, especially if you’re used to buying better-quality meat. A better strategy for saving some money? Look for sales at your local grocery stores.
Next: You should look for this kind of meat at the grocery store, too.
7. Frozen meat
Many foods are a better deal bought frozen than fresh, and some are even better overall to buy from the frozen section than elsewhere in the grocery store. But Clark Howard thinks that you shouldn’t buy frozen meat at the dollar store for a couple of reasons. You probably won’t get very much meat for $1, so you’ll likely need to spend more to feed your family. So Clark Howard advises that “you’re probably better off buying something from the markdown section at a regular supermarket.”
Next: You may want to avoid these foods altogether.
8. Perishable foods
Reader’s Digest goes so far as to recommend against buying any food at the dollar store. But the publication says that you should be particularly cautious about purchasing perishable foods at your local dollar store. As Reader’s Digest points out, “freshness and quality can be questionable.” So if you need some grocery items that are prone to spoiling, you may want to shop elsewhere.
Next: This beverage doesn’t offer you much bang for your buck.
9. Coffee and creamer
Coffee and coffee products from the dollar store may do in a pinch. But the store isn’t a good place to stock up on supplies for a delicious cup of joe. Clark Howard notes that dollar store coffee grounds often don’t taste particularly great. And the creamer products stocked at the dollar store often aren’t a good deal per-ounce. Your best bet? Buy what you need for your morning caffeine fix somewhere else.
Next: Look for these foods elsewhere.
Clark Howard doesn’t wholly recommend against buying condiments at the dollar store. But the publication notes that you’ll need to do some comparison shopping to make sure you actually get a good deal. For condiments like ketchup, mustard, and even distilled vinegar, you can find the same size bottle at other stores for the same amount of money (or less) than what you’d pay at the dollar store.
Next: The dollar store rarely has the best price on this household staple.
11. Baking soda
Most people always keep baking soda on hand to use not only in baking, but also in cleaning tasks around the house. And it’s tempting to stock up when you see it at the dollar store. But Clark Howard notes that baking soda is cheaper than you’d think at stores other than the dollar store. “A one pound box sells for $0.49 at Aldi. Even if you don’t have an Aldi in your neighborhood, you can generally find larger quantities of Arm & Hammer baking soda for less than $0.60 a pound at Walmart or Target.”
Next: You’ll find the best deal on this food at Costco.
You don’t swallow it. But gum still qualifies as one of the worst foods you can buy at the dollar store. Kiplinger reports that gum is rarely a bargain at the dollar store. And the prices are especially high compared to what you’ll find at a warehouse store like Costco. While a dollar store could charge prices that work out to about 5 cents per stick of gum, Costco’s bulk packages work out to only 4 cents per piece.
Next: Never buy these at the dollar store.
They aren’t technically a food. But vitamins deserve a mention because many of us buy them at the grocery store. Wise Bread reports that you should never buy vitamins at the dollar store because of their quality. Even pricy multivitamins can be missing vital ingredients. And the FDA doesn’t closely supervise what manufacturers put in their vitamins and supplements. You probably won’t increase your chances of getting a quality formulation by going for the cheapest option available. Wise Bread says of dollar store vitamins, “they probably won’t hurt you, but you may be getting short-changed.”
Next: You shouldn’t buy these at the dollar store, either.
Similarly, Wise Bread recommends against buying your painkillers at the dollar store. “When it comes to your health, it’s better to go with the name brand or generic items in the supermarkets and retail stores,” the publication advises. The painkillers on the shelf at the dollar store could be substandard, counterfeit, or missing the ingredients that they claim to contain. “And one of the biggest problems is medicines like Ibuprofen have often gone past their expiration dates,” Wise Bread adds.
Next: Go to the grocery store or the pet store if you need food for your dog or cat.
15. Pet food
Finally, don’t forget that the dollar store isn’t the best place to buy food for your pets, either. As Reader’s Digest explains, you really shouldn’t buy food for your dog, cat, or other pet at the dollar store. The quality likely isn’t tightly controlled, and may be questionable. The pet food on dollar store shelves may use lower-quality ingredients than the food you can find at the grocery store or the pet store. And the formulations may not be as healthy for your pet.
Read more: 15 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco
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