Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guest Post, Elise Griffin

Just a little musing after my outing earlier...
Dollar Tree is one of the busiest stores in town all of the hours its open. This morning I stopped by at 10:40, and as always it was crowded with shoppers of all ages, men and women. What I noticed at the check out was folks aren’t just stocking up on cleaning products, shampoo and sundries: virtually every cart or hand carried basket held grocery items. When it was my turn at the register, I commented to the cashier that it seemed like a busy morning.
“It’s like this every day,” she said.
We talked a bit about couponing—a relative of one of her friends hosts a coupon website—and she explained, “Since our (California) grocery stores don’t double any coupons and you have to drive all over the place to get free deals, I think most people just come here because it’s always less expensive than the grocery stores for a lot of things.”
The cashier is right. Although the selection varies from week to week or month to month, I can do much better on some name brand food or off brand food items at Dollar Tree than I can at any of the three grocery stores in town most of the time. Even with coupons. Especially as our Rite Aid manager is ... um... never mind. The exceptions are when I can combine a coupon with a sale. So, today at Dollar Tree, some of my $1.00 each bargains included:
  • a fresh loaf of Busy Baker white sandwich bread
  • 3 (4.7 oz.) boxes of Betty Crocker Roasted Garlic scalloped potatoes
  • 4 (16 oz.) packages of Columbia thin spaghetti
  • 3 (26.5 oz.) cans Del Monte Mushroom spaghetti sauce
  • 3 (28 oz.) cans Corina diced tomatoes
  • 3 (10 oz.) cans Mini Farmer mushroom pieces and stems
  • 5 (19 oz.) cans Hanover baked beans, brown sugar and bacon variety (98% fat free)
  • 5 (14.5 oz.) boxes no brand, Family Size macaroni & cheese (6 servings per box vs. 2.5 for the Kraft boxes now)
  • 1 (16 oz.) bottle Riverton Valley ranch dressing
  • 1 (10 oz.) bottle Blazin’ Blends steak sauce
  • 1 (17 oz.) jar Breckenridge Farms baby dill pickles
  • 1 (18.4 oz.) box Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix
Our Dollar Tree carries a large variety of Columbia brand pastas, which is why I tend to buy my dry pasta there. Consider a pound of dry lasagna noodles for $2.49 per box savings over grocery store regular prices and it’s easy to see how those savings add up quickly. I know a lot of folks don’t feed their family boxed macaroni & cheese, but my kids have always loved it... no less now that they’re adult students living at home. In fact it’s one of the first things each of them learned to cook. They’ll throw in a can each of tuna and peas for a quick tuna casserole, or toss in chopped hot dogs for seriously college fare with a side salad or “nuked” vegetables. My guys also like to throw together a quick meal of beans & wieners or meatless spaghetti, but I have plenty of pre-browned ground beef in the freezer.
Stopping by cookie Crock Warehouse on the way home, I saw the new sale flier for this week. Not much was what I’d call a bargain. Fortunately, with what I already had on hand, what I bought at Dollar Tree to fill any bare spots in the pantry, what’s in my two freezers and fridge? I shouldn’t have to do much shopping for at least three weeks, other than bread, milk and eggs.

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