The Dollar Tree can be a great place to buy if you’re looking to save money — especially when it comes to food. What I’ve found about the Dollar Tree, however, is not everything is worth it — even for only a dollar. I’m working my way through the Dollar Tree trying to share what I think is worth it and not worth it in each department. Recently, I shared the best organizational items from the Dollar Tree.
Today, I’m tackling the grocery section of the Dollar Tree and what I think is and is NOT worth it.
Note: When you’re buying food from the Dollar Tree, it’s always a good idea to just double-check the sell-by date. Personally, I’ve never had issues with expired food, but it’s not a bad idea to check.
When you look just at the price per ounce of most spices at the Dollar Tree, you are almost always getting a good deal compared to spices anywhere else. Why are they SO much cheaper and are they worth it?
The truth is, buying spices can be hard because their prices can range SO MUCH. You can find rosemary anywhere from $3 to $15 at a grocery store. Why? Well, from the research I can find, it comes mostly down to the internal standards each brand has. Some brands have much higher standards on things like region, harvesting, age (fresher spices are better), color, oil content, etc. The main thing I could find that will help with a quick glance is to look at the color and physical appearance of the spice. Higher quality spices are more colorful and vibrant.
So, long story short on spices at the Dollar Tree: I think some spices are great to get here. I’ve used their seasoned salts, garlic powder, chili flakes, and dried chives, all of which are just fine. Other spices I might steer clear from — just because I don’t think the quality and flavor will be what I want — include things like basil, vanilla extract, and thyme. While these spices are totally fine, like I said, the flavor just might not be as strong.
Getting cooking oil at the Dollar Tree is a big no from me. They are blends with usually less than 5-10% of the actual oil you want, and the rest is soybean oil.
In general, most snacks like crackers, pretzels, etc., are a great deal at the Dollar Tree, including the name brand ones. I have compared the prices of many name brand items like CheezIts, Chex Mix, and Ritz, and they are actually a better deal at the DT. I mean, you save maybe 5-15 cents an ounce, but it’s still a savings and easy place to stock up your pantry with some snacks.
Other things that are a good to buy at the Dollar Tree are some of the healthy snacks. They aren’t always cheaper, but they are equivalent in price. I got some freeze-dried apples for my son, and I pay $1 for the same package at the grocery store. Harvest snaps are also available in 2 oz. bags for $1, and at my grocery store the 3 oz. bags are $2, so these are cheaper at the Dollar Tree.
Obviously, there are a few outliers. When I price compared veggie straws and trail mix, the Dollar Tree wasn’t the cheapest option. But, overall more things were a deal than not a deal in the snack section.
In the candy department, some items are a good deal, and some are not. I find that the little bags tend to not be the best price per ounce. You’ll get a better price per ounce getting a bigger sized bag at Walmart. However, when you get to the boxed candy, like the movie theatre candy, this usually is a great deal. So stick to the boxes and skip the bags, and you’ll know you’re getting a good deal.
Canned veggies aren’t usually the best deal. Typically when they do sales at the grocery store you can get better prices and pretty much always get better prices at Aldi or Walmart.
If you don’t have a brand affinity, then $1 for a ketchup of mustard isn’t bad. But at shops like Aldi, you can actually snag a better price per ounce on generic condiments. But as a side note, Michael and I both LOVE this Deli Market mustard. It’s super tasty.
When it came to name brands, I compared some of the Kraft dressings and sauces, and overall they weren’t a good deal. A few were the same price per ounce, but most weren’t. The problem is they are tiny bottles of about 8 oz., and elsewhere you can get much bigger bottles for only $2 or $3.
Pasta and rice are almost always a good deal at the Dollar Tree. I used to be able to get Barilla pasta for $0.99 at my grocery store, but not anymore. So name brand pasta for $1 is a steal.
Name brand mac and cheese is also a decent find. While you can get it for $0.98 at most Walmarts, most grocery chains charge over $1 for a box. So, depending on where you do your shopping, it could be cheaper to get them here.
Personally, I don’t find cereal to be a great deal. If you’re fine with the off-brand stuff, you’ll likely get a much better price per ounce at Aldi or Walmart. The only thing that might be an OK deal is their little bags.
The boxed and bagged cookie and brownie mixes are all pretty decent deals. Although they are smaller than some others, they are also much cheaper as well.
The mini frosting tubs, however, are not the best deal. You can get a tub double the size for about $1.50 at the grocery store.
Meat & Fridge Items
Finally, I know some Dollar Trees have refrigerator sections. My old one used to but my new one doesn’t. My general rule of thumb is just…no.
Listen, don’t get me wrong, there are probably a few OK things in there, but the things I have tried or looked at were all just very fake or low quality, so it just wasn’t worth it to me. Go to Aldi for discounted meats, frozen foods, and cheeses instead and skip the Dollar Tree fridge section.