Money Management

Frugal Guinea Pig: Dollar Store Dining With Food Items & Products – Worth The $1?

As the Frugal Guinea Pig, I try to convey you stories on what’s new and thrilling in the world of bargains.

Today’s experiment addresses whether or not shopping for meals at the greenback retailer saves you money – and if what you purchase there may even be thought of edible meals.

I like greenback retailer gadgets like plastic flatware and toys, however I’ve by no means really purchased the meals earlier than this experiment. My native greenback retailer (i.e. Dollar Tree, the place all the things actually is $1) has a good choice of meals, a lot of it name-brand. It leans closely in direction of snacks (cookies, chips, crackers) and cereal, with not a lot in the “things for dinner” class. There are indicators in every single place proclaiming that the meals is “guaranteed fresh!” which is, I suppose, supposed to reassure you that nothing is about to run out or is a last-season reject. Indeed, none of the meals I purchased was near expiration. The retailer did have a small dairy case, however I didn’t enterprise there.

One factor that I instantly seen was that lots of the gadgets, particularly model title meals, weren’t really a lot of a deal on an ounce-by-ounce foundation. There was simply much less in the package deal. The chips and snacks you bought in a bag for $1 had been precisely like the snacks you get at a fuel station for $1 – not an excellent worth! The Dollar Tree did have good costs on some snacks, however the costs on common meals had been near what you may get at the grocery retailer by watching the gross sales or utilizing free low cost grocery coupons (i.e. excessive couponing).

For this experiment, I recruited three buddies to strive the meals and provides it a ranking. The scale went from 1 (horrible) to 10 (superb, indistinguishable from brand-name). All of the meals I purchased was non-brand-name and was contemporary, unexpired, and unopened. Each of this stuff price, you guessed it, $1.


Honey Pops

This cereal appeared like miniature Corn Pops on the field and like miniature Kix in my hand. They had been disconcertingly shiny. Quotes from our testers:

  • “Seems stale.”
  • “Extremely sugary – tastes like it has a lot of high fructose corn syrup.”
  • “It tastes like icing and is too crunchy.”

Due to the excessive sugar content material (14 grams per 3/4 cup, as in comparison with 12 grams per 1 cup for the Boo Berry I had useful) the cereal had an odd feeling on the tongue, prefer it was, nicely, lined in corn syrup, which it most likely was. We didn’t eat it with milk, however given the approach it disintegrated on the tongue, it most likely would disintegrate even sooner in milk. There was no redeeming dietary worth apart from starch.

Average rating: 3.75

I’d eat it if there have been nothing else in the home, however I wouldn’t purchase it once more. And at $1 for under 7 ounces, I’d be approach higher off shopping for generic cereal at the grocery retailer.

Fruity Hoops Bars

These had been knockoff cereal-and-milk bars that appeared like Fruit Loops on the field and like smashed-up Fruit Loops out of the field. The field contained 4 small bars which separated from one another simply, all the higher to see the mainly nonexistent “milk” layer.

  • “The pieces are all smashed!”
  • “This is sticking to my teeth.”
  • “They taste stale and cloyingly sweet.”
  • “I’d eat this if I were starving, or 3 years old.”

Three of the 4 of us didn’t end our bars – the fourth mentioned he was not conscious that not ending his pattern was an choice. None of us needed extra. This additionally had no dietary worth, and at solely 100 energy with no fiber, it wasn’t a lot of a breakfast.

Average rating: 1.75

Nobody needed to take the leftovers house, though plans had been mentioned to sic these on buddies we’d prefer to torment.


“Cheese Crackers”

These had been clearly supposed to be knockoff Cheez-Its. I like Cheez-Its so I hoped these can be good, since the actual factor is form of costly. It was to not be. The solely approach wherein they resembled cheddar was the shade.

  • “They seem like they have too much flour in the recipe.”
  • “Are you sure these aren’t stale? They’re mushy yet stale at the same time.”
  • “There’s a funny aftertaste, like cleaning products, or really old cheese.”
  • “They’re mushy, flavorless, and not salty enough.”

Average rating: 3

Despite the guarantees of cheese, they actually didn’t style something like cheese, or actually, like something. They had a consistency like they’d been left to go stale in a moist room.

“Wheat Crackers”

These had been clearly knockoff Wheat Thins. When we took them out of the field, one individual questioned in the event that they weren’t produced by the identical manufacturing facility, since they appeared precisely like our reference Wheat Thins. The greenback retailer additionally had some in a pair totally different flavors. This was the clear winner of the evening.

  • “Not bad!”
  • “They look the same as the regular ones.”

We all voluntarily ate extra of those crackers. They had been darn tasty and I’ll most likely end the field. However, once we in contrast the diet labels, the knockoff had 3 grams of saturated fats to the model title’s 1 gram, and the model title had extra fiber. So if I subsisted on Wheat Thins I would purchase the model title ones, however given how way more costly they’re, I’ll most likely stick with the knockoffs, particularly for a celebration.

Average rating: 9

They had been just about nearly as good as the model, so the differing diet stats had been odd since they tasted nearly the identical. Side by aspect, I don’t know if I may inform them aside.


Macaroni and Cheese

This was akin to “deluxe” Kraft macaroni and cheese as a result of it included a packet of cheesey sauce, so that you didn’t must have butter and milk readily available. However, a field of normal Kraft normally prices $1 anyway and feeds twice as many individuals (this was solely 2 servings). We ate all of it, however that might be as a result of it was the first merchandise to be sampled. It wasn’t that unhealthy, and we had been all very hungry.

  • “This is really salty.”
  • “That’s kind of an unnatural color – kind of radioactive looking.”
  • “There is a slightly disturbing flavor, like a chemical undertone to the cheese flavor.”

The cheese was a lot saltier than the Kraft model, and I needed to put in slightly water and maintain the macaroni pot on the range with a purpose to get the cheese to truly unfold round. It additionally began solidifying nearly immediately, so that you’d higher eat rapidly. It was okay, however I don’t suppose I’d purchase it once more because it’s not really cheaper than Kraft.

Average rating: 5

A stable “meh.” Noticeably worse than the model in style, worth, and diet. While you may put skim milk in Kraft dinner, these items contained a ton of fats and energy and no dietary worth (not even a lot calcium, since the cheese isn’t really cheese).

Instant Mashed Potatoes

I purchased and totally supposed to arrange a field of mashed potatoes, however solely as soon as I bought house did I discover that it wanted not solely water, but additionally butter, milk, and salt. I’m shocked it didn’t additionally ask you to place in potatoes! With that many components, it was really costlier than the just-add-water varieties at the grocery retailer, and naturally approach costlier than actual potatoes. The flakes could be good for breading hen, however since we had no milk, we didn’t check the potatoes.


Miniature Peanut Butter Cups

Dollar shops typically carry a dizzying number of issues that comprise sugar. Candy, cookies, snack truffles, even these Dutch butter cookies that are available in lovable tins. I chosen this specific merchandise as a result of I like peanut butter and chocolate collectively and I totally anticipated to eat the remainder of the bag myself. But the peanut butter cups didn’t love me again. I really gave this my lowest rating of the evening, as a result of they had been so waxy they made my abdomen upset.

  • “They taste like they’re half wax.”
  • “There’s just a thin layer of chocolate, and the rest is peanut butter, but you can’t taste the peanut butter much.”
  • “The chocolate is okay, but the peanut butter is not.”
  • “These have absolutely no resemblance to Reese’s.”
  • “I guess you could put them in cookies…”

They had been unhealthy. I questioned if I’d grabbed the sugar-free bag by mistake (the greenback retailer did carry sugar-free candies) however no, they contained lots of sugar.

Average rating: 3.5

Everyone however me thought they had been tolerable however they’re undoubtedly not price shopping for once more. Plus, the bag was form of small, even for $1, so that you weren’t getting a lot of the horrible sweet.


Although quite a lot of the meals at the greenback retailer was model title, it’s price doing a little comparability looking for gadgets you utilize rather a lot as a result of they’re not at all times cheaper per ounce or merchandise. If you might have youngsters, taking them to the greenback retailer is like releasing them into Sugar Wonderland as a result of there’s a ton of colourful, high-sugar meals and little or no from the Land of Good For You. Some of the knockoff meals is okay, however you’d want 2 or 3 packages to feed a household on these items since there’s normally much less in the field than there can be should you purchase generic at the grocery retailer.

However, should you prefer to strive new issues (as I do), the greenback retailer is an effective approach to strive a wide range of snacks for lower than you’d spend at the grocery retailer. Be ready to get some actual stinkers in with the respectable stuff, although.


I’d purchase greenback retailer snacks for the occasional deal with to place in youngsters’ lunchboxes, however for normal on a regular basis meals, it simply doesn’t reduce the mustard. You’re higher off financially and nutritionally simply maintaining a tally of the gross sales at your grocery retailer.

What about you? Have you got any meals gadgets from the greenback retailer earlier than? What has your experience been like?

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