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Using Dollar and Discount Stores To Save Money All Year Long

by Kristina Wyatt

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With the large number of dollar and discount stores in the U.S., the quality of items at these stores is becoming more and more on par with larger supermarkets and department stores. From food items, frozen foods, decorations, kitchen gadgets, candles, toys and more, these stores that are cropping up everywhere it seems can stretch your household and grocery budget without sacrificing quality.

Food Items, Frozen and Refrigerated Foods

Many discount stores, such as Big Lots, Dollar General, Sav-A-Lot and Dollar Tree/Stores, now have a frozen food section. The types of food usually vary and may include frozen meals, vegetables, pizzas, desserts, frozen fruits and sometimes name-brand products like Hot Pockets. Visit your local store to see what variety they have each week or during your normal grocery shopping day.

Some stores like Big Lots and Dollar General also have a refrigerated food section. Milk, butter, eggs and cheese are a few good deals they usually have on hand. They also sometimes have juices, sandwich meats, etc. in stock.

Their pantry items are a multitude of varieties. These include pasta, rice, bread and buns, flour tortillas, condiments, spices, herbs, chicken and beef broth, ramen noodles, canned chicken and tuna, canned veggies, pasta and pizza sauce, pepperoni slices, generic baking mix, baby-food, canned beans, dried beans, cornbread mix, canned soups, coffee, teas, honey, sugar and many others. Below is a list of meals you can make using the numerous items I've mentioned:

  1. Spaghetti with garlic bread
  2. Tuna or chicken noodle casserole
  3. Homemade pizza
  4. Slow cooker beans and cornbread muffins
  5. Chili made with dried or canned beans and cornbread as a side
  6. Cobbler made with frozen fruit and generic baking mix
  7. Skillet frittata made with eggs and cheese from the refrigerated section
  8. Soup and sandwiches (tomato soup and grilled cheese)
  9. Frozen pizza night
  10. Soft tacos using tortillas, canned beans and chili seasoning packet

Related: Using Coupons at The Dollar Tree

Decorations and Home Items

Another category that usually has a ton of items is decorations and home items (including kitchen gadgets). Seasonal decorations like Christmas ornaments and miscellaneous embellishments for the home are abundant in Dollar Stores, Big Lots, Sav-a-Lot and Dollar General. When you're looking to do some inexpensive decorating, head to these stores and check out what they have to offer. The same is true for birthdays, anniversaries, kids' parties (they have cute toys for children's birthdays), and other special days throughout the year.

Another good idea is to give gift baskets, using items found at the dollar and discount stores. Below are a few ideas:

  1. Valentine's Day gift basket: Include heart-shaped wire basket (or other Valentine themed container), chocolate candies, bath items (wash, lotions, etc.), and special teas or some coffee.
  2. Birthday gift basket for him: Find a masculine container (tin, metal, etc.) and fill with small tools like screwdrivers, a hammer, a set of nails or screws, his favorite candy, maybe some potato chips (most stores carry a variety of snacks), gloves and a DVD (Dollar Stores and Big Lots both have movies).
  3. Mother's Day gift basket: In a springtime basket or other container, place faux flowers to decorate the basket, pretty mug or tea-cup, Earl Grey tea bags (or her favorite tea or coffee), cookies or tea crackers, candies, a necklace or broach and other things that your mom likes.
  4. Father's Day gift basket: In a large bucket or pail, put golf balls, golf tees, nice gloves, snacks like chips, beef jerky, candy, soda, and batteries.
  5. Italian gift basket (for families, couples, etc.): In a pretty colander, place a bag or box of pasta like penne or fettuccine, a jar or can of pasta sauce or a can of tomato sauce, tomato paste and Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, cheese grater and a pretty wooden spoon for stirring the sauce.

Use these ideas and get creative yourself to save money on gifts, toys and home decorating on a dime, using your local dollar and discount stores.

Related: Building Beautiful Gifts from The Dollar Store

Kristy Wyatt is a SAHM to a 17-month-old daughter and always looking for ways to save money and help supplement the family's monthly income. She loves to write, read mysteries and scrapbook.

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