Survive at the dollar store for less than $50 a week
And by survive we mean food and a few sundries. it can be done, and you stand to save a whole bundle if you know what to buy.
This post comes from Tahirah Blanding at partner site Cheapism.com.
College, unemployment, or an unexpected change in your life situation can mean that a major cut in spending is required as you plan how to survive from week to week. We found that it's possible to take care of the essentials, with a dollop of comfort thrown in, for less than $50 a week by shopping at the local dollar store.
Sure, the dollar store is a pit stop for cheap snacks, cooking supplies, toys, and other small items, but it's also a source for food at one very low price. And yes, there may be a stigma attached to dollar store shopping for all your needs, but can you afford to be snobby at a time like this?
These super-discount chains can sell items cheaply because they buy non-brand items that aren't backed by enormous advertising budgets, stock items in smaller sizes, and buy products in bulk from companies that are going out of business. Most goods sold in dollar stores are perfectly fine, and you'll often find reputable brands such as Minute Maid, Del Monte, and Suave.
Do shop wisely, however: Some items, such as electrical products, may be knock-offs that don't meet quality standards. A few dollar stores now sell meat, so be sure to carefully inspect the packages, just as the Ohio Department of Agriculture suggests.
Breakfast for seven days would cost about $10 using combinations of coffee, apple juice, oatmeal, bread, eggs, milk, cereal, pancake mix and syrup. Outlays for lunch and dinner foods would total slightly more than $30 and involve mixing and matching tuna, pasta, frozen meat, pre-made pizza crust and sauce, canned soup and vegetables, etc.
Our suggested menus and shopping list below presume you have some staples on hand, such as mayonnaise and condiments like pickles. Remember, inventory will vary at every dollar store:
Suggest Grocery List:
1 box cereal -- $1
1 6-ct pack oatmeal -- $1
1 bag coffee -- $1
1 loaf bread -- $1
1 box pancake mix -- $1
1 bottle imitation maple syrup -- $1
1 jar jelly -- $1
1 jar peanut butter -- $1
1 12-ct. carton eggs -- $1
1/2 gallon shelf-stable milk/1 gallon fresh milk -- $1
1 32-oz. jar apple juice -- $1
1 2-ct. pack pre-made pizza crusts -- $1
1 jar pizza sauce -- $1
1 container grated Parmesan cheese -- $1
2 boxes Hamburger Helper -- $2
1 bag pasta -- $1
2 cans meat sauce -- $2
5 5-oz. cans tuna -- $5
1 box instant oatmeal -- $1
3 1-lb. cans soup -- $3
4 10-oz. cans vegetables -- $4
1 box crackers -- $1
1 pastry crust -- $1
1 box New Orleans-style rice -- $1
1 can beans -- $1
1 box dehydrated mashed potatoes -- $1
2 packages frozen chicken -- $2
1 pack Country Time Iced Tea Mix -- $1
1 bag potato chips -- $1
1 6-ct box granola bars -- $1
1 bottle barbecue sauce -- $1
Plan out meals, rather than snacks, and purchase items that can be used in at least two different meal settings; bread and eggs work for breakfast and lunch, for example, and tuna and soup do double duty for lunch and dinner. Some dollar stores contain a frozen foods section (the Dollar Tree, for one, recently began installing freezers) stocked with items such as meat and TV dinners, and some have a refrigerated section filled with dairy products. Canned and boxed goods dominate dollar store shelves, however, so fresh fruit and vegetables will have to be put on hold.
Day 1: Bowl of oatmeal, coffee
Day 2: Pancakes, coffee
Day 3: Bowl of cereal
Day 4: Toast with jelly or peanut butter, scrambled eggs
Day 5: Waffles, coffee
Day 6: Bowl of cereal
Day 7: Bowl of oatmeal, cup of apple juice
Lunch (accompanied by water or iced tea)
Day 1: Tuna salad, potato chips
Day 2: Soup, crackers
Day 3: Hamburger Helper, canned vegetables
Day 4: Pizza
Day 5: Tuna pasta salad
Day 6: PB&J sandwich, granola bar
Day 7: Soup, crackers
Dinner (accompanied by water or iced tea)
Day 1: Spaghetti, canned vegetables
Day 2: Mashed potatoes, barbecue chicken, canned vegetables
Day 3: New Orleans-style rice, beans
Day 4: Tuna pasta salad, canned vegetables
Day 5: Pizza
Day 6: Hamburger Helper, meat
Day 7: Tuna pot pie
Granola bar, toast or crackers with peanut butter, jelly
Living off the dollar store requires careful planning and discipline Make a list of your needs (and commit to sticking to it) before setting foot inside. Avoid the non-food aisles. All too often a quick browse down the wrong aisle can lead to an impulsive choice of something that seems essential but under the circumstances just isn't.
After purchasing all the necessary food stuffs, you may have a few dollars left over for a 6-pack of tissue or a stick of deodorant. Some dollar stores accept manufacturer's coupons, so don't be shy about checking the store's policy. Saving a few extra cents here and there adds up to dollars that can be allocated toward other expenses, such as bills or transportation.
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Food Stamps are one of the most abused and wasteful social program this country has ever developed. A family of four receives more money monthly then my family of five spends a month on food. The amount paid out each month should be cut by at least one third. Purchases by food stamps should be (if not already) restricted to the following: Fresh/frozen non prepared meats & fish, fresh/frozen non prepared vegetables, deli meats/cheeses, canned goods, breads, non sweetened dairy, and non sweetened juices. The following should always be banned, and processes need to be in place where not already, to restrict: Soda, bottled water, power and energy drinks, sweetened juices, coffee, tea, ice cream, candy, energy bars, any pre-prepared meals or sandwiches, snacks/junk food, or any food that is mail ordered or shipped anywhere. If these rules would be followed, and recipients would learn how to shop and properly eat, no one would be hungry and we the taxpayers would save billions.
Tobacco and alcohol should be banned from purchase by welfare funds. No cash should be allowed to be pulled off of any assistance cards except at banks and should be limited to a very low percentage of funds.
If you live or grew in central Pa. this is a way of life. I live in a nice development and we all have gardens. If I grow more of one thing that I use I let a neighbor know and it gets used up. We all take advantage of buy one get one free and pass it on if we don't need it. We also buy the whole cow and spit it up for $2.17 per pd.
I never buy boxed anything. I make my own pasta and noodles and dry them or use them fre**** fast and easy.
I carry cash. If something is a bargain and I (need) it I get it. It's a great life style and everyone should give it a shot.
This should be named the Carbs GMO diet.
Jeez...calm the "f" down.
The title is: "Survive at the dollar store for less than $50 a week". It is not "How to make gourmet meals from the Dollar Store" or "How to ensure your family eats healthy from the Dollar Store".
Get a grip. This article will likely never reach he intended audience as it is on MSN Smart Spending. This is like expecting Kalahari Tribesmen to watch Survivorman before going out into the bush.
Pack up the soap boxes, grab a snack and get comfy. Most of you will never have to worry about using this information, it's just here to pass the time and give you ideas to save money.
Our area grocery chains are limited to (from the lowest/highest priced): Save-A-Lot, Wal-Mart, Winn Dixie and Publix. We do have the Dollar Tree chain and it does have a freezer of frozen food and yes you do need to be aware of what you buy for freshness.
When it is shopping day, we first stop at the Dollar store. We find good cleaning agents, and personal hygiene products, as well as basic vitamins and minerals, spices and over the counter health remedies. There are soups and vegetables in 15-16 ounce cans versus 10.5 ounce cans for nearly the same price elsewhere. Cooking utensils and storage containers are good in quality and much cheaper than elsewhere. Once we check off the shopping list what is reasonable to get at the Dollar store, then we go to the grocer for main stables, such as meats, fish, poultry, milk ect... We also use bulk stores to stock up with none perishable items (which when broken down, equals what the Dollar store prices are, but the Dollar store may not carry). We also buy fresh produce and spend a day canning or dehydrating for longer storage (and it is fun working together on the project).
By selectively shopping this way (on a planned shopping day), we have been able to cut our monthly shopping bill from $500.00, to $300.00, yet still have the same quality and quantity of items needed to maintain a family of five. And we are not starving or unhealthy by a long shot ;-))
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