Last week, I wrote about the growing popularity of dollar stores in our struggling economy. This week, I want to follow up on some of the best items to buy at the dollar store:
- Cleaning products are the backbone of the dollar store business, according to industry experts. Because they buy close out and remnants, dollar stores often have name brands for 60 to 70 percent less than grocery chains.
- Gift wrap is substantially less expensive at the dollar store. And buy early. National chains, even discount stores, will raise their prices right before the holidays, when consumer demand is highest.
- Beauty products — including soap, shampoo and conditioners — can be found for less than half the price of other stores. And while you may not find expensive name brands, the quality is the same or better, experts say.
- Kitchen gadgets are plentiful and at rock bottom prices at dollar stores. Stay away from the cheap-o items, but look for measuring cups, timers, graters and other items that will cost way more at mainstream stores.
- Halloween candy and other bulk candy can be found for a much better value than the grocery stores. Let your kids pick out their own jumbo sized boxes of candy before taking them to the movies and you will save a fortune.
Speaking of great values, let’s start saving some money!
First, in produce, let me say that although Food 4 Less has cantaloupe on sale 3 for $5, you would have to be a really big fan of this fruit to buy it right now because of the listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupe that already has claimed at least 16 lives. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the cantaloupe for a while.
A better buy at F4L would be cabbage, which is $.25/head. Over at Freshline Foods, Romaine lettuce is $.99/lb. At Cermak Produce, both mangoes and avocados are $.59/each, so it’s a great time to make Mango Walnut Guacamole. Fresh Pick Market has iceberg lettuce for $.59/head, a pretty good price, and bananas for $.29/lb, a great price.
Tony’s Finer Foods has collard, mustard and turnip greens for only $.59/lb, which is perfect for these soul food specialties. Tony’s also still has sweet corn for $.25/ear, but it has to be the last local corn of the season, so hurry!
Speaking of the season ending, vendors at area Farmer’s Markets tell me next week or the week after will be the last until the spring, so make it count!
In the meat department, reports that meat prices would be increasing are starting to be felt. Prices are up across the board. The best value I found was at Ultra Foods, where whole chickens are available for $.58/lb. At Jewel’s, chicken leg quarters are $.39/lb, but you have to buy a 10 lb bag. Who has room for that?! And Tony’s has ground beef for $1.88/lb if you buy 5 lbs or more, which is better than most places but still a bit pricey for me.
In the grocery aisle, there are a couple of deals to get excited about. Jewel’s has their house brand pasta for $.88/lb. Pair that with the 24 oz house brand pasta sauce available at Freshline Foods for $1 and you’ve got dinner for 4 for $1.88. Not bad. Get a jump on holiday baking by picking up a 5 lb bag of unbleached all purpose flour for only $1.88 at Tony’s.
In the frozen section, Ultra Foods has Bird’s Eye vegetables for $.78/lb. And Tony’s has Palermo’s 12″ frozen pizzas for $1.83/each, although I can’t vouch for quality because I’ve never tried this brand. Might be good if you have onmiverous teenagers, though.
This week’s Bargain of the Week is at Ultra Foods, where an 8 lb bag of Idaho potatoes is only $.98. That’s only $.12/lb. You can’t afford not to buy at that price!
Have you found any great bargains out there? Why not share them in the comments section below? See you at the grocery store!