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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 best buys at my dollar store

The chain is Dollar Tree. And in recent years they have made a push to enlarge their grocery selection. You do need to know your prices, and do a little math in the store. But here's what I've found to be the 10 best buys at our local Dollar Tree.

  1. Paper cupcake liners, 100 ct., both mini and regular-sized for $1
  2. Graham Crackers (crucial ingredient in s'mores) almost a 10 oz box for $1 (they sometimes get Honey Maid Cinnamon Grahams, 16 oz boxes for $1)
  3. Foil-wrapped holiday chocolate candies (Christmas, Valentine's, Easter), small bag of about 12 pieces for 25 cents, on clearance, after the holiday -- we use these for s'mores
  4. Crackers, all kinds, 8 to 10 oz boxes -- I  don't know why anyone would buy crackers in a regular store. When we want crackers for a party or celebration, we head to the dollar store
  5. Soy milk -- I buy Westsoy brand soy milk at the dollar store in a quart for $1. Soy milk has really jumped up in price in the last 5 years. I used to be able to frequently buy other major brands of soy milk in the regular grocery store for a dollar on sale. Just not happening anymore.
  6. Individually-wrapped snacks, packages of 5, 6 or 8 for $1-- I don't usually buy these. But there is one occasion when I do. When we're traveling by plane I make a stop at Dollar Tree the afternoon before we leave and I buy the multi-packs of single serve, individually wrapped snacks of cheese and crackers, raisins, peanuts, trail mix, breakfast and granola bars. I put all these into a pile on the kitchen table, give each family member a bag, and tell them to choose 4 or 5 items from the pile. This is their traveling day snack, for in the airport, on the plane or any other time during that day, as they are hungry. I wind up spending $6 for the day's and flight's snacks, compared to maybe spending $6 per person in flight. And while it's kind of junky stuff, by our standards, we don't eat like this every day. So I don't feel bad about it.
  7. Large sheets of poster board for school projects and signs, 50 cents per sheet.
  8. Sweetened shredded coconut flakes for baking, $1 for 6 or 7 oz. bag (depending on brand). Do you make Dream Bars, the incredibly yummy, multi-layered coconut, graham crumbs and chocolate chip bar cookies? 
  9. Sea Salt, $1 for  26 oz container of San Francisco Bay brand sea salt -- good for cooking, yes, but also nice for making bath salts
  10. Panty liners, 40 ct. package, $1 -- grocery store brands have 22 ct. packages for about $1
Like I said, if you know your prices, you can snag some really great deals at Dollar Tree. What deals have you found at your dollar store?


  1. While we don't have a dollar tree, I also like to pack my own snacks when I travel on a plane. It's so much cheaper (and tastier) than buying them at the airport or on the plane :)

    1. Hi Economies,
      You know, I remember when it was "weird" if someone brought their own food on a plane. Now that's the normal thing.

      I sometimes will also make sandwiches to go with our snacks, or we'll bring the last of the fresh fruit.

      When you're in the airport, waiting for forever, it feels, having a snack in your bag really heads off that impulse to buy from one of the concessions!

  2. Lili, I get my muffin liners at Cash & carry $3.39 for 500 count. Recently I got an open & slightly used 500 count box at Goodwill for 99 cents. I hesitated to buy an open package, but since I will be baking and therefore killing any contaminants, I went with it. I bake muffins frequently.

    1. Hi frugal spinster,
      Thanks! I used to buy muffin liners at Cash and Carry in Lynnwood, but they stopped carrying the size I like. But that was a couple of years ago. I'll check there again soon, so thanks!

      I see your reasoning in the opened box of muffin liners. I might hesitate too, at first. Sometimes I just need to stop and think for a minute when in a thrift store, rather than pass something up, right off the bat.

      We bake muffins a lot here, too. They make a great snack, an extra item for lunches, and quick grab on the run breakfasts.

  3. Good to know! Cards/gift wrap/gift bags are also a good buy at dollar stores. For my son's birthday party last year, I purchased invitations/decorative cups/napkins/plates and thank-you notes for a very good price. Also, they had t-shirts for $1 as well (it was in August, so maybe a back-to-school item?). Instead of a goodie bag, I bought a shirt for each child attending and let them decorate their shirts with fabric markers. Cheaper and more fun.

    Aldi is my source for many of the items you mentioned. :)

    I imagine you will get lots of use out of your new mixer! Hmm, criteria for a "splurge" ... not sure if I have specific criteria, but we tend to spend more on items which either 1) affect our health (I've mentioned buying quality shoes before) or 2) get a lot of use--your mixer would fall into that category. When we bought "big kid" mattresses a few years ago, they had a cheapie mattress available--unless you are truly strapped for cash, this makes no sense to me--kids are only going to get bigger and heavier and they spend 1/3 of their life on them, so it made more sense to us to buy a quality mattress (we purchased less expensive ones for the trundle beds which don't see the wear and tear).

    We have our first stalks of rhubarb! I may be trying your muffins soon! :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Yes, party supplies! It seems silly to overspend in that area, when that stuff will just be thrown out. And really, kids don't notice the difference between a cheap paper plate and a pricey one. They just know if it's the color or a character that they like!

      Great idea on decorating t-shirts. The activity and party favor! Some of the junk in goodie bags is just that -- junk. It gets played with for 5 minutes then winds up at the bottom of a toy chest.

      Our criteria for splurges is similar to yours. Some people might think the amount that I spend on supplements is a lot, but if they can head off a serious disease, or boost energy/immune levels, than I think it's money well-spent. I hope to get many, many years of use from this mixer!

      Yum -- let the rhubarb season begin!

    2. OK ... first of all ... is that your picture? You're gorgeous! Why have you been hiding all this time????

      Second of all--it's a little freaky, but at first glance I thought you found a picture of my mom from her younger years--you look very similar to her. Hmm. Maybe we are long lost relatives? :)

    3. Oh goodness, yes, that's me. Thank you! I'm just a busy gal with no time to figure out how to do things, sometimes. LOL! Hmmm, cousins! I like that thought, couz Kris!

    4. I must second the opinion on the photo. Holy Moly, girl! You look amazing!

    5. Aw, thank you. You guys are great for my ego!

  4. I think the best deals I've found there are on frozen fruit ($1-$1.50/lb for berries, peaches and pineapple) and popcorn ($1/lb).

    Well, actually you can get a set of fake fingernails there for only $1 which is cheaper than I've found them elsewhere... What? I don't seem like the false nail type to you? Actually, I tore a nail down into the quick like a YEAR ago, and everytime it starts to grow out it snags and tears AGAIN! So I finally decided that I just need to keep it covered with a false nail until it grows out beyond the tear. And I did something similar with my big toe... smashed it somehow and the nail is cracked and separating on one side. And if that one gets caught and pulled off it will be really ugly. So for the time being, I guess I'm a false nail kind of a girl! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      Okay, so the "real" you has come out! I know your type, in the beauty salon night and day, getting your hair coiffed and nails done twice a week. Yep! You seem the high maintenance type to me! LOL!

      Seriously, I keep my nails very, very short because I'm always in the dirt or making jam or something that gets them all messed up and stained. But, if I had something important to attend, like a family member's wedding, I could see myself doing the fake nails for that event. So, it's good to know I can do fake nails for a dollar should I need them!

      I checked out the frozen fruit at Dollar Tree the last time I was there, after your comments on buying peaches and berries there. It is a good deal, especially during winter when fruit is pricey, and especially for someone who doesn't grow and freeze their own berries or peaches. The berries were 10 oz bags, and mixed berries (an assortment of berries in one bag) were 12 oz. bags. So for $1 a very good deal.

      I wanted to buy some peaches for myself right then and there. But chose to wait for peaches to come to our local farm stand instead. I am planning on freezing a bunch of peaches this summer, if I can buy them in a case for 79c/ lb or less.

  5. Lili,
    What great tips! I forget we have the Dollar Tree! I get stuck in my ruts and travel the same highways! I must truly make a point to get there this week.
    By the way, what a darling picture of you! It is nice to see the person behind the writing and tips!

    1. Hi Jemma,
      I know, don't we all get into our ruts of which roads and places we go? There's another part of town I've been meaning to explore, just to see what they have to offer. I usually take a different route. But the next time my daughters have an orthodontist appt I've decided I'll stop and see what Winco is like, and any other stores in that area.

      Thank you! I decided that I couldn't be shy any longer. It's just the friendly thing to do, to put my photo up.
      Have a great day!

  6. A Dollar Tree store opened recently in our town, but it does not have groceries. I've only been in a couple of times and didn't find much I needed except some decorative, helium balloons for a dollar a piece. A very good buy comparatively.

    Now onto more important business--your picture. You look almost as young as your daughters and what a nice smile. However, you look entirely different than I imagined you in my mind. It's going to take me a little while to get used to the real you.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Check back at your Dollar Tree every 6 months or so. Ours began with extremely limited food selection (think chips and crackers). Then they began expanding. And this last year they added a freezer and fridge unit. Yours may decide to expand as well. I have also noticed the brands they carry are improving. It isn't all weird, unknown manufacturers which may or may not have packaged everything in China.

      Dollar Tree is also good for mailing supplies. I get packing tape and mailer envelopes there.

      You know, I have a similar thing with voices. I will imagine someone's voice a certain way and it totally throws me when I actually speak with them those first few times. Like when you've been emailing with someone over something or another, then you have to actually phone them. I wonder how I looked in your imagination?

    2. And it's a bit like when you see a photo of somebody that you've only ever heard on radio, and the image doesn't tally with the voice! Of course What a lovely smile and friendly eyes; and can we have a blog post about your skin care regime please!

    3. Hi Sarah,
      I tend to imagine certain voices as belonging to blonds for some reason. Then when it turns out they're brunettes, well I have a hard time getting over my preconceived notions.
      A blog post on my skin care regimen might the shortest post I could write! But I'll share what a dermatologist told me years ago, and what I've learned along the way. Truth be told, a lot of it is in the genes. Some women have a lot of estrogen coursing through their bodies, and their skin makes collagen very easily. But there are some things we can all do to improve our odds of healthy skin. I'll put something together soon.

  7. Hi Lili, It's so great that you posted your picture and we can see what you look like! My favourite thing to buy at the dollar store is almonds; they are the same brand Costco has and much cheaper - but you have to buy them in little one-dollar bags, of course!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      Posting my photo just seemed like the friendly thing to do.

      I'll have to compare prices on the nuts at dollar tree. Thanks for telling me about your store's almonds. I would love to find those at Dollar Tree!

  8. We don't have Dollar Tree but do have other dollar stores. I find their cubed chicken and beef Knorr bullion cubes much cheaper there than anywhere else. Lemon juice is half the price of supermarkets (the exact same brand). Love the picture of you by the way. Cheers!

    1. Hi Cheapchick,
      I'll have to check for bouillon cubes at our dollar store. I have bought the bottled lemon juice before. It is a great deal. Don't you just love it when it's the exact same brand?! Anexactinglife (in the comment above yours) says that the almonds in her dollar store are the exact same brand as some Costco carries.

      I think the days of dollar store brands being subpar are coming to an end, or at least shrinking. I no longer worry that I might be buying something that could make us sick. And the idea that dollar stores only carry expired stuff is totally wrong, too. I asked about that once and was told that they couldn't (by their chain policy) sell outdated stuff, at lest not at their regular $1 price. I did buy outdated chips once, but they were marked down to 33 cents a package, and also marked that they were outdated.

      You know, reading everyone's comments on what they've found at their dollar stores makes me want to go back and really look closely at everything, just to see if there's something I could be missing out on.

      Thanks on the picture!


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