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Can You Really Save by Buying Food at The Dollar Store?

by Jane Wangersky | July 6th, 2010 | Shopping Secrets
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A sign at a “dollar-plus” store near me says “Buy all your groceries here first!” It goes on to say that the products are the same, but the prices are lower than elsewhere.

I decided to find out if that was really true. I noted the prices of some items and compared them to the prices at the regular supermarket next time I was there. The answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. The dollar store price may be lower than the regular price, but higher than the price when the item’s on special. Or it may be lower than either. To save money, you’ll have to study the supermarket  specials each week.

I’ll give you some examples. At the supermarket, a small cake mix cost $1.69, a kilo of salt $1.29 (regularly $1.39), and a box of pudding mix $1.49 (regularly $1.69). At the dollar store, they were all 99 cents.

But a can of pineapple that cost $1.29 at the dollar store was on special at the supermarket for just 89 cents. Of course, it’s usually $1.79.

(Just a side note here — I had to take the store’s word for it. We all know of places where the “special” price is charged year in and year out, and you’re not really getting a discount.)

Cans of tuna were $1.49 at the dollar store, regularly $1.99 at the supermarket, but just 99 cents this week. The cans of chicken were also on special at the supermarket, $2.79 instead of $3.29, but they were still cheaper at the dollar store: $1.49, same as the tuna. Heinz canned pasta and baked beans were also on special at the supermarket (both $1, marked down from $1.59), but they were still a lot cheaper — just 69 cents — at the dollar store.

Another good deal at the dollar store was a pound jar of instant coffee for $2.99. It’s at least $5.99 at the supermarket (where I live, anyway).

To get the best deal every time, check out the dollar store and the weekly supermarket specials.

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