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Dollar store steals that can drop your grocery bill

Posted at 6:59 AM, Apr 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-13 08:12:18-04

If you’re looking to save on groceries you’ve likely considered apps, clipping coupons or shopping at stores known for cheap items like Aldi’s.

Finding a deal is no new venture, but have you considered shopping the dollar store for groceries?

Lifestyle blogs like the Penny Hoarder and others have explored the option, and shoppers are taking notice. Kathleen Spain, a regular at the dollar store, said she recently began scouring the aisles for groceries in addition to her typical deals on household cleaners and decorations.

“I’ve look at some foods,” said Spain. “They do have a lot of good food. They have name brand cereal in here, bread, milk and they have eggs! I discovered the Dollar Tree has eggs.”

7 Action News went on a shopping spree and paired up items at a typical grocery store and compared them to the dollar store items. While some items are a steal, others are more an illusion of a deal than the real thing.

GOOD BUYS

Some of the best buys come in off-brand items. Pancake mix and syrup are a steal at $1 apiece. You can find off brand cereal for nearly $2 less than similar size at your local grocer.

One of the best buys is pasta. A pound of spaghetti from Barilla — a name brand — can be found in the aisles of the dollar store, at a grocery store in Southfield we found the exact same item for $1.49. The same is true for elbow macaroni, lasagna noodles and plenty of other types of pasta. We also found off brand pasta brands that come with an extra 1/2 pound for the same price.

One of the best deals you’ll find at a dollar store comes in the form of bread. Always check the expiration date! We found name brand bread, but most loaves only had a few days left on them.

BREAKING EVEN

If you don’t want to run around to multiple stores you can buy a lot of things at the same price at the dollar store, too.

Canned Chef Boyardee pasta and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are the same price at dollar stores as they are at most grocery stores. At the dollar store we found a carton of 8 eggs for a buck, and while we found a dozen eggs at the grocery store the prices break even because they were $1.50.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Name brands are hard to make a blanket statement for inside the dollar stores.

One example: Captain Crunch — we found a box for $1 but it was a mere 5.5 ounce box. While the 20 ounce box cost $3.09 at the grocery store, the breakdown of price per ounce makes the grocery store buy a much better deal.

You can find a package of Bounty paper towels at the dollar store, but it’s a small roll. In fact, it could be argued a bargain priced roll at a grocery store will give you more bang for your buck without the name brand. We found a paper towel roll that offered up 96 squares (which were larger) compared to the 42 in the Bounty package for 39-cents more.

The above examples don’t mean you can’t find deals on name brand items. A 10 ounce bag of Snyder’s pretzels at the dollar store offers a huge value when compared to the 16 ounce bag we found at a local grocery store — even at a sale price of $2.50 you got more pretzels per dollar at the dollar store, and the margins get worse for the typical grocery store when you consider the retail price of $3.39.