It may seem impossible, but it is actually possible to make tasty and even nutritious meals out of food found at the dollar store, if you know what you are doing.
- Keep a stock of spices. It is much easier to turn dollar store food into a delicious meals if you have a good stock of spices or pantry staples.
- Go to several stores. Smart dollar store shoppers know that they may have to visit several dollar stores to get all of the food they need, since you never know exactly what you will be able to find at each store. Visiting several gives you a better chance of finding ingredients that you can turn into a tasty meal. When you find something good and versatile, stock up. The next time you go shopping at the dollar store, the item may be gone. Unlike grocery stores, the brands and products offered do not stay the same over time.
- Know how to buy dollar-store food. When buying dollar store food, be sure to check the expiration date; sometimes, overstocked food makes it to the dollar store after its expiration date. Also know common prices on the foods you buy most; sometimes, foods, especially canned goods, may actually be less expensive at the grocery store than at the dollar store.
- Buy the right foods. When shopping at a dollar store, it’s especially important that you pick out foods that work together. Otherwise, you may end up with a bunch of snack foods but nothing that you can turn into a meal. Look for items that you know how to work with and that you would likely buy if you went shopping in the grocery store. Watch for foods that will provide nutritional value. Do not buy foods simply because they are a dollar, or you’ll defeat the purpose of shopping at the dollar store.
- Supplement with grocery store purchases. Although it’s possible to make complete meals from the dollar store, there are some foods that are not usually available in dollar stores, such as dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables. You may also want to supplement with meat; if you shop solely at the dollar store, you’ll be making vegetarian meals or using canned meats.
- Assemble the meal. Rinse most of the canned foods you buy, because they can be packed with sodium. Be creative and make substitutions. For example, you can make a meal of pasta, canned vegetables, and salmon pouches or canned chicken. Read up on different cooking methods to add variety to your meals, and use recipes for inspiration even if you don’t have all the ingredients. Use lots of spices; many can even be found at the dollar store. Many dollar store meals are be rather bland until you spice them up.
If you shop wisely, it is possible to serve delicious and nutritious meals from dollar store food. Bypass the junk foods in favor of versatile staples and items that work well together, and be creative when assembling your meals.