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If you frequent Dollar Tree, you know that the store carries several food items; some of them even offer refrigerated and frozen sections with quick meals and snacks. You may have even done some of your grocery shopping at Dollar Tree, grabbing $1 cans of vegetables, snacks for packed lunches, and drinks to stock your kitchen pantry. Unfortunately, toward the end of 2021, the company shocked its avid customer base by announcing a price increase to $1.25 on several items across its stores by mid-2022. A Dollar Tree news release reported that the price hike would allow the company to offer more products in a wider range of sizes. Unfortunately, many food items at the store now market at $1.25, which may make you wonder: Is it still worth it to shop at Dollar Tree for food?
As always, there are certain items you can find for a good bargain at the dollar store, while others are better off being saved for your local grocery store or big-box retailer, like Walmart. Also, your savings can depend on where you live, as some areas may have higher grocery prices than others. For example, Consumer Reports found that shoppers in Lisa, Texas, and Janice, New York, found better deals at Dollar Tree than at their local supermarkets. Continue reading to learn what Dollar Tree foods can potentially save you some money.
Stock up your spice cabinet
One of the go-to food items that many Dollar Tree shoppers seem to agree on buying is spices. For $1-$1.25, you can get regular-sized containers of ground black pepper, basil, onion powder, crushed red pepper, and your other favorite herbs and spices to elevate your dishes. However, some stores carry their own brands of the most common spices for the same price or lower, like Kroger’s Smidge & Spoon brand, which features low-priced garlic powder, parsley, cinnamon, and more.
Instead of stocking up on these common spices, move your attention to more unique options, like cinnamon and sugar blends or grill seasoning. These less common spices usually don’t have a store-brand0 counterpart at supermarkets. To compare, this barbecue grill seasoning at Kroger is almost $5, but a similar option at Dollar Tree is just $1.25 for a larger size. If you like to comparison shop, be sure to look at each spice container’s ounces for a fair per-ounce comparison.
Your local Dollar Tree might also stock a few rare finds. For example, one Twitter user bought 13 Kingsford Cajun Style All-Purpose Seasoning at Dollar Tree.
Breakfast cereals, if you don’t mind off brands
Some Dollar Tree shoppers have found name-brand breakfast cereals at their local stores, like one Twitter user who posted photos of resealable bags of Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops, and other breakfast cereal favorites. Another Dollar Tree fan found a box of General Mills’ Sonic the Hedgehog cereal at their store that coincided with the release of the movie, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." However, in most cases, the name-brand cereal you’ll find at the low-priced store will usually be quite a bit smaller than those you’d buy at the grocery store. For example, those resealable bags listed on Dollar Tree are about 3 to 3.5 ounces. Meanwhile, Walmart sells many cereals with weights between 12 and 25 ounces that are often cheaper if you’re considering per-ounce costs.
Off-brand cereals are where you’ll find the best savings at Dollar Tree because they’re closer to regular-sized cereal boxes but still at the low price of $1.25 in most cases. For instance, a 12-ounce box of Honey Nut Toasted Oats at Dollar Tree costs a little over $0.10 per ounce, but Honey Nut Cheerios at Walmart is over $0.25 per ounce. Even the more affordable Malt-O-Meal version at Walmart costs $0.16 per ounce.
Look for tuna and other canned meats
Globally, the market for tuna is growing and isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. In fact, a Global Tuna Market Report and Forecast report (via BusinessWire) projects the tuna industry to reach $78.20 billion by 2027. Perhaps you should consider stocking up on canned tuna at your local Dollar Tree. Here, it’s $1.25 per 5-ounce can of Bumble Bee tuna, the same size and brand many grocery stores sell. That’s just $0.25 per ounce, compared to closer to $0.30 per ounce for a similar product at Walmart. It’s not a huge difference in price, but if you eat a lot of tuna, the savings can add up.
It’s not just tuna that might save you money at Dollar Tree, either. Look at other canned meats, too, like chicken, roast beef, Vienna sausages, and SPAM. These products can be pricey at the grocery store, but you can often find comparable products at Dollar Tree — sometimes, even name-brand options — for lower prices. For instance, deviled ham spread at Dollar Tree is about $0.38 per ounce, while a branded version at Walmart is close to $0.49 per ounce.
Save money on baking essentials
Ask Dollar Store enthusiasts what they believe are must-buys at Dollar Tree, and you might hear one phrase repeated: baking supplies. Often, Dollar Tree shoppers note how affordable it can be to stock up on bakeware, like measuring cups, pans, and utensils. One Redditor says, "My dollar store sells some types of bakeware (pizza pan, 8×8 square pan, 8" cake pan, pie pan, etc.), and if I’m bringing something baked to someone else’s house/party, I’d rather buy the $1 dollar store stuff than spend the same $1 on a disposable pan."
However, buying your baking ingredients at Dollar Tree could also help you save money. Although you may not find niche items, like flavored baking chips and fancy extracts, you can most certainly get the essentials, like sugar, flour, food dyes, etc. Dollar Tree also offers convenient baking mixes that are often more affordable than supermarket equivalents. For example, a traditional yellow cake mix at Dollar Tree is just $1.25. The same size and brand mix at Albertsons is regularly priced at $2.49.
Try new frozen appetizers for cheap prices
If you’re lucky enough to have a refrigerated and frozen section in your Dollar Tree store, don’t skip it in favor of the potentially larger selection at the supermarket. Sure, you’ll probably find larger sizes and more to choose from at Kroger, Walmart, or your other go-to grocery stores, but Dollar Tree provides some surprisingly decent finds, especially when it comes to appetizers. A YouTuber showed off what her local Dollar Tree offered in its refrigerated and frozen sections, including Lunchables, breakfast sandwiches, french fries, and deli meat.
Depending on the size of your store’s frozen food section and the products it can stock, you might even find lots of name-brand appetizers and items to fill out your family’s meals. The same YouTuber found items from Ore-Ida and Jimmy Dean, for instance. But, if you don’t mind off-brand items, you can typically find lots of yummy and affordable foods and appetizers perfect for making an enticing party spread or a quick dinner.
Get your pet some affordable food, too
While you may not get your money’s worth doing all your pet food shopping at the dollar store, it could be a helpful once-in-a-while addition to your shopping routine. If you’re running low on food for your dog or cat and need to get some affordably to hold you over until your next grocery store trip, consider making a stop at Dollar Tree. Most stores carry both name-brand and off-brand pet items, including food and treats. They’re usually much smaller bags than you’d find in a traditional store, but for only $1 or $1.25, they can be convenient and budget-friendly to stock up on.
For instance, a 13-ounce can of 9 Lives cat food is just $1.25 at Dollar Tree, but a 5.5-ounce can of the same product is $0.70 at Kroger. Dollar Tree also carries 12 to 16-ounce bags and boxes of cat and dog food and packages of dental chews, chewy treats, and dog bones from brands you trust, like Purina.
Candy and snacks for a movie night at home
Dollar stores like Dollar Tree bring up nostalgic memories for many now-adults who used to visit their local store to load up on snacks and candy before having a movie night at home with the family. Many of those adults probably now do the same with their own kids, thanks to Dollar Tree still offering some snacks for $1 and others for a small price hike of $1.25. For $10 or less, families can get a variety of goodies, like chips, gummy candy, cookies, and popcorn to enjoy an evening at home together.
Bags of M&M’s, full-size candy bars, and even small bags of Lindt Lindor Truffles are $1.25, as are boxes of Nerds, Mike & Ike, Dots, and other movie theater favorites (via Dollar Tree). You can sometimes get $1 to $2 deals on similar snacks at other grocery stores, too, but they often carry larger sizes for higher prices. If you’re looking for a few snacks that everyone in the family can select individually without breaking the bank, Dollar Tree is an excellent option.
Protein bars and foods
You may not think to look for items at Dollar Tree that could lend to a healthy diet, but some shoppers have been lucky enough to find protein-packed snacks that they’d usually buy from the supermarket. As you may know, protein is an essential nutrient for your muscle, bone, and overall body health. It’s best to get protein from eating a variety of protein-rich foods, like nuts, seafood, and beans (via MyPlate). Still, when you need a quick and simple way to add more protein to your diet, supplementing with bars or protein powders can work, too, per UC Health.
Browse your Dollar Tree food aisles to see what protein-enriched products you can add to your shopping cart. For example, a Twitter user found a plant-based protein bowl at their store. Another person on Twitter posted their find: peanut butter chocolate protein minis. The Dollar Tree website also lists snacks like nuts, trail mixes, protein bars, tuna, and other protein-packed foods. You might even get lucky enough to find Kellogg’s Special K Strawberry Flavored Protein Bars for $1.25 for an 8-pack at your Dollar Tree. A 12-count box at Walmart is close to $6.
Test out a few international foods affordably
Have you wanted to try foods from other regions around the world but don’t want to spend a lot of money in case you don’t like it? Check out Dollar Tree’s selection of international foods. You can choose an assortment of items to try without spending much money. One popular find is Jarritos, a Mexican soda that’s grown from having just one flavor — coffee — to a lineup of flavors, including mandarin, lime, guava, and tamarind (via Jarritos). Many Dollar Tree stores offer at least a few Jarritos options to choose from, costing just $1.25 for a 25.4-ounce bottle.
Other yummy international foods to consider trying include snacks and chips, like Takis, Fieras, wafer cookies, Goya cookies, and ramen noodle soup. Or, grab some Tajin seasoning, a favorite for spicing up veggies and meat marinades and creating Mexican-inspired meals, per The Pioneer Woman. There are also various internationally-inspired foods, like hot and spicy peanuts, yellow rice, canned tamales, beans, and pork rinds.
Tea bags and single-serve tea drinks
Tea bags aren’t usually very expensive, but there’s no reason not to try to save money buying it if the opportunity is available. One way to do that is to compare tea prices at your supermarket with those at Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree sells various 20-packs of Tevive tea bags for $1 to $1.25. Compare that to Twinings 20-pack boxes of tea at Walmart for a little over $3, and you’ve found a decent way to save on your daily tea-drinking habit.
Dollar Tree also stocks affordable single-serve tea drinks. If you look at the shelves, you probably notice that Arizona teas are widely available at Dollar Tree. That’s because Arizona is committed to keeping its costs low to appeal to customers looking for a good deal. Spencer Vultaggio, the Arizona’s chief marketing officer and co-owner, tells Reader’s Digest that part of the company’s low costs is due to its low ad spending. "We feel like it’s more important to spend money on something that our customer really cares about instead of buying billboards or putting our cans in the hands of some celebrity for a few minutes," Vultaggio explains. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find large, 34-ounce bottles or cans of Arizona tea and drinks for just $1.25 at Dollar Tree.
Save big when buying in bulk online
Don’t forget to check out Dollar Tree’s website if you can’t find something you want in the store. The website is loaded with excellent deals, too, that you can have shipped to your home or for free to your local store for pickup. The one caveat? You’re required to buy many items in bulk rather than just a single item or two. However, if you need cases of cereal or multiple cans of cat food, you can buy them online to stock up for the same low prices you’d get in-store — and, sometimes, lower prices than you’d find elsewhere online. For example, 8-packs of 24-ounce Gatorades on Amazon run about $16. On Dollar Tree’s site, you can buy a 24-pack for $30 — less than double Amazon’s price for triple the number of sports bottles.
If you don’t want to buy everything you need in bulk, check out the Smaller Quantities section of the website, where Dollar Tree offers home decor, crafting supplies, kitchen items, office supplies, and other items in non-bulk form. These items are available in quantities of as little as three, so you don’t need to overspend for what you don’t need.