In part 2 of this 3-post series, you’ll find a full grocery list and meal plan for Dollar Tree! See how this family of 3 ate for $52.00 for a week using just dollar store food.
Other posts in this series:
Well, we’ve come out of a week of eating food from Dollar Tree! I wanted to see if it was possible to fully grocery shop at Dollar Tree for a week, and whether you could actually eat healthy foods there.
I’m happy to say that we made it through (with a few bumps), and I have my entire grocery list and menu here for you to use and/or get ideas.
If you haven’t done so already, PLEASE read my post on why I did this in the first place. I know that a lot of these foods are not the best deal, or are entirely healthy. These were easy meals meant to be used in a food desert type situation.
But some people only have Dollar Tree stores like this available in their area and either can’t afford to shop anywhere else, or have no transportation to go to another store.
This was an experiment to see if it’s possible to eat here (Either for just yourself or for your family).
So here was my criteria for eating at Dollar Tree:
- I wanted to feed the three of us for around $50. Our normal weekly budget is $75 but I know that’s super high for a dollar store budget.
- I wanted to balance being health-conscious with getting the most out of my money. Larabars are the best snack bars there; but I could pay $1.00 for a single Larabar, or a whole box of 6 granola bars for the same price.
- I wanted to keep my calories at the average of 2,000 calories per day. That’s the recommended daily intake for most people for maintaining weight and health.
- I wanted to buy enough food that we would only eat the food from Dollar Tree and not what was already in the house, to stay true to the experiment. It didn’t work, but I tried.
So yes, a lot of the items I bought weren’t perfectly healthy. There is a lot of added sugar and not many whole foods. But I did the best I could with the money I had. Here’s a video of my huge haul, and below is my Dollar Tree meal plan and grocery list:
- Carton of shelf-stable milk, 32-oz
- Barilla penne, 16-oz
- Quick oats, 16-oz
- Pancake syrup, 24-oz
- Honey wheat braided pretzels
- Cheddar whales crackers
- Popcorn kernels, 20-oz
- Cinnamon raisin bagels, 4-pack
- Kraft BBQ sauce, 18-oz
- 4 bags frozen stir fry veggies, 16-oz
- Frozen blueberries, 10-oz
- Round crackers
- Marie Calendars blueberry muffin mix
- Frozen meatballs, 7-oz
- Frozen strawberies, 10-oz
- Frozen mixed veggies, 10-oz
- Chicken apple sausages
- Dark chocolate trail mix, 2.5-oz
- Craisins, 6-oz
- Fruit and nut blend trail mix 2.75-oz
- Texas Toast
- 2 cartons milk, 16-oz
- 2 packs Dannon yogurt, 4-pack
- Dried pinto beans, 24-oz
- Pancake mix
- Feta crumbles, 3-oz
- White rice, 2-lb
- Flour tortillas, 12-ct
- Piza crust, 12-in
- 2 packages Frigo cheese sticks, 3-pack
- Fudge striped cookies
- Hormel pepperoni
- Peanut butter chocolate granola bars
- Diced tomatoes, 28-oz
- Canned corn
- 2 cans fruit cocktail
- Prego Alfredo sauce, 14.5-oz
- 1 dozen medium eggs
- Pizza sauce, 14-oz
- Strawberry jam, 17.6-oz
- 2 cans tuna, 5-oz
- Peanut butter, 10-oz
Dollar Tree Meal Plan
- Tuna Alfredo Casserole
- Egg Stir Fry
- BBQ Meatballs
- Scrambled eggs
Breakfast was quick oats cooked with almond milk I bought previously, with a spoonful of peanut butter and a little of the fruit and nut blend trail mix. So, somewhat of a healthy meal. I didn’t think it’d be enough food, but it left me full for a few hours!
Morning snack was the peanut butter and chocolate granola bar. I was really disappointed in its size, but at 110 calories, that’s pretty average.
Lunch is usually dinner leftovers from the previous night. Since I had no leftovers to use, we dug out some bean and cheese burritos from the freezer and had leftover grapes. No Dollar Tree items were used here. A lot of times I wish my local Dollar Tree had fresh fruit!
Afternoon snack was popcorn using my Microwavable popcorn bowl. I just added some salt and onion powder but told myself to look for other combinations later.
Dinner was BBQ Meatballs, which was actually a tasty meal! First I put two servings of rice in my rice cooker. Then I emptied the bag of meatballs and one bag of stir fry veggies in a large pan, then let them heat up for a few minutes. After they were almost done, I added 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce, then divided everything onto two plates.
Allison got a little of ours but didn’t eat it (No surprise here).
Dessert was 3 of the fudge-striped cookies.
I made the entire box of pancake mix for Allison, but she decided she didn’t want them. It’s hard to explain to a 5 year-old why she has to eat the dollar store food instead of the cereal that’s been in the cabinet for awhile, so I let her have cereal.
My breakfast, then, was some pancakes with a half cup of thawed blueberries; and two scrambled eggs. After I started eating the eggs though, I noticed some blue mold on them. I don’t think it was the blueberries because I put them on a separate plate before eating my eggs.
At any rate, I took the eggs back and got some canned chicken and bologna instead.
Morning snack was some of the peanut and dark chocolate trail mix, which was actually pretty good. I was hungry less than an hour later though, so I grabbed one of Allison’s cheese sticks.
Lunch was PB&J on half a bagel, with pretzel rods, leftover grapes, and some leftover roasted veggies from last week.
I realized that the peanut butter was not a great deal. It was such a small jar, and had extra ingredients I don’t usually buy with natural peanut butter. It made for a cheap meal, though.
At this point I started feeling weird. Not sure if it was because of my cold or because I’m not used to eating so much added sugar, but I’m already missing all the fresh produce.
I skipped my afternoon snack because I wasn’t hungry, and dinner was an easy recipe: Tuna Alfredo Casserole. I mixed together a cooked box of pasta, 2 cans of tuna, a can of Prego Alfredo sauce, and a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Then I baked it at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes and it was actually really good!
We ate it with the Texas Toast; and it serves 6, so we’ve got enough leftovers for the next two days.
I taught PiYo this night, and afterward I came home and ate 3 more fudge striped cookies. At this point I’ve done two workouts today but I’m just not hungry. Could be because I’m getting over a cold, but I ended my day 400 calories short.
Breakfast was pancakes again, with blueberries on top, and a yogurt to go with it. Really missing those eggs.
At this point I was so sick of sugar that I caved and ate some stuff we already had in the house- peanuts and grapes. Lunch was leftover Tuna Alfredo Casserole.
For dinner, I cooked a pound of the kidney beans in my Instant Pot and served it with the can of corn and some rice on a tortilla. We had a can of fruit cocktail to go with it.
My evening snack was popcorn made in my microwavable popper, mixed with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It was pretty good!
Again, breakfast was pancakes. My morning snack was a little weird, though- a slice of bologna on a tortilla, and some of the fruit and nut blend trail mix. I know bologna isn’t the best, but it was better than the granola bar, and slightly more filling.
Dinner was homemade pizza! I spread half the jar of pizza sauce on the thin crust, and topped it with feta cheese and pepperoni.
Surprisingly, the feta cheese was really good on the pizza! I kind of burned the crust so the outside was a little crispy, but it still wasn’t too bad.
It was right around here that I just got tired of eating. We had enough food bought from Dollar Tree, but I just couldn’t do it. Breakfast was pancakes again, and my morning snack was an RXBar I had in the house.
Lunch was leftover burritos, and dinner was stir fry. I cooked 2 servings of rice, then stirred it into a pot with a bag of frozen stir fry veggies and the can of chicken.
It actually wasn’t that bad, although I was wary of canned chicken at first. It’s good in a pinch!
Evening snack was crackers with peanut butter, topped with the blueberry Craisins.
I declared this day the last day of eating solely Dollar Tree food (Although I had given up a little earlier in the week). Breakfast was oatmeal with peanut butter and blueberry Craisins.
Lunch was a leftover burrito, and dinner was just a complete failure. It was supposed to be a makeshift jambalaya, using chicken sausages, a can of diced tomatoes, rice, pinto beans, a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, and rice.
I bought the chicken sausages from the freezer section and was surprised at the good ingredients. I thought they’d be good….
While the sausages were cooking, I smelled something weird. I wasn’t sure if it was the sausages or the mixture cooking in the pot next to it. I tasted the sausages after they were done and they tasted okay, so I added them with the other food.
When it came time to eat it, though, it was completely inedible for me. It tasted like it smelled, and I was just turned off by it. John ate it no problem, but I ended up having leftover pasta.
After eating Dollar Tree food for almost a full week, here’s what we have left over:
- 3 cups yogurt
- Half a container of oats
- Less than half a bag of rice
- A quarter bag of pinto beans
- A full box of crackers
- Half a jar of peanut butter and jelly
- A full bottle of pancake syrup
We didn’t do too bad, I think! Although we went off plan at times and ate food we had bought previously, I think $52 at Dollar Tree could feed us for a full week in emergency situations. If you’re on a low income for a bit, your local dollar store could be a good option.
Grocery shopping at Dollar Tree was definitely an experience! I wasn’t used to completely filling my cart with their food. Overall, though, it’s a great place to find cheap foods and ingredients for easy dinners.
In next week’s post, I go into more detail of what I learned doing this Dollar Tree meal plan and whether I’d do it again.
In the meantime, leave me a comment: What great ideas have you come up with using Dollar Tree ingredients? I’d love to know!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.