Dollar store groceries: Do they save money and are they safe?

Grocery inflation is running above 8% the past two years, which is causing many to turn to dollar stores for some staples.
Posted at 7:31 AM, Oct 06, 2023

Loading up on all of your grocery staples is a huge expense right now, leading some shoppers to look for food items in less traditional settings. A growing number of them are turning to their local dollar store.

But there are a few things to keep in mind before turning to dollar stores for your kitchen staples.

The first thing to know is that although most dollar store items now cost more than a dollar (some cost $5 or more), shopping there can still save you a small fortune.

Shopper Faith Jackson loves them.

"They sell pretty good stuff. They have a lot of detergent on sale," she said as she headed into her neighborhood dollar store.

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A grocery store in Kansas.

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But some of the biggest savings are on groceries, according to Meg Streit, editor-in-chief of the Scripps sites Simplemost and Don't Waste Your Money.

She tells us stocking your spice rack is much cheaper at the dollar store.

"Our writer found, for example, garlic powder at Family Dollar for just $1," she said. "And there was actually a smaller bottle of the same product at Target for $2.59."

She says you'll also find big savings on juice boxes there.

"If you've got kids," she said, "you go through those things like crazy."

Other food items to pick up at the dollar store, Streit says, include:

- Dried rice

- Beans

- Condiments

- Chili

"You might save 30 or 50 cents a can by shopping at the dollar store," she said. "But if you're buying a few at a time, that savings can add up."

7 grocery staples you should buy from the dollar store
7 grocery staples you should buy from the dollar store

7 grocery staples you should buy from the dollar store

The dollar store can be a gold mine of affordable kitchen staples, helping fill your pantry for less than what you'd spend at big box stores. Just watch those expiration dates!


The one thing to check for

But a word of caution before you shop for food. Tina Lanier recently bought a six-pack of Dr Pepper and discovered something wrong.

"I got home, went to open the Dr Pepper, and there was no fizz," she said.

So she looked closely at the plastic bottle and saw that it was well past its sell-by date.

"The expiration date was two years ago," she said, "June 2021."

We brought it to the attention of a manager at her store, who said he was unaware his store was selling anything past its expiration date.

However, several major dollar store chains were fined in 2019 for selling expired items.

Lanier says she will be checking expiration dates from now on, and urges everyone to do that, even though she too admits the savings on many items can't be beat.

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