Pick or Pass: Should You Buy These Popular Dollar Store Items? (2:35)
With dollar stores on the rise as a popular place to buy groceries, many people are wondering just how healthy these bargain products are for you. Health guru and coach on "The Biggest Loser", Jen Widerstorm, went on a dollar store investigation to see which items are the best bargains. Check out this list to see which things to "pick" and which to "pass" on next time you're at the dollar store.
Pick: Apple Cider Vinegar
Widerstorm advises that you make sure your apple cider vinegar is the real deal before buying it from the dollar store. There are three tests the vinegar needs to pass before you purchase it. First, check the acidity and make sure it is between 4 to 5 percent. Then, check to make sure the product was made in the USA. Lastly, look at the expiration date: Since the vinegar contains live bacteria you don't want it to be expired. If the vinegar passed all of these tests then you should definitely buy it from the dollar store.
A big concern with buying milk at the dollar store is that it will be expired (or close to it). But Widerstorm’s investigation found that none of the milk was close to the expiration date. However, she did find that dollar store milk isn’t always the best deal. Dollar store milk is usually sold in smaller sizes. So when it comes to quantity, compared to a gallon from a grocery store, you would need to spend an average of $8 at the dollar store to get the same amount of milk. Price per ounce, it’s a better deal at the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk.
Dollar stores are quickly expanding their offerings, like frozen food sections. Steak from the frozen foods section of the dollar store was found to contain 30 percent of a solution that is known to tenderize the cut, meaning that it’s most likely a cheap cut of meat. The steak bought for the investigation was found to be watery and flavorless once cooked, making it a better bet to buy steak at the grocery store or your local butcher.
Pick: Frozen Veggies
Both from a nutritional and cost perspective, frozen veggies are a better pick than canned at the dollar store. Since canned vegetables are often highly discounted at grocery stores, $1 can be considered expensive. Frozen vegetables are more expensive at the grocery store so buy the $1 frozen veggies when you can. Bonus: Frozen vegetables are often picked and frozen at the peak of ripeness and contain way less sodium and additives than canned vegetables, making them a better purchase all the way around.
Pick: Eggs and Oatmeal
Eggs and oatmeal are two big breakfast staples that you can get easily save on at the dollar store. Oats from the dollar store are the same as the grocery store, except cheaper. And as far as eggs are concerned, it's hard manipulate eggs, so as long as they aren’t cracked or expired, they are safe to buy.
Pass: Medications and Vitamins
While vitamins and medications can be expensive at the grocery store, dollar store brands may not be the best. A study tested multivitamins from dollar stores and found that not all nutrients on the label were in the bottle. If you do choose to buy them at the dollar store, make sure they have a brand name, have a USP verified seal, and are not expired. It’s important to check the expiration date, especially on pain-relievers, because they lose efficacy after they expire. Widerstorm recommends that if you do purchase dollar store meds, to get them in the individual serving packs instead of the big bottle because they are less likely to expire before you use them. But, you should always try to buy these things at the grocery store or pharmacy instead.
Pick: Reading Glasses
Cheap reading glasses are not harmful to your eyesight. However, these glasses work best when both of your eyes have the same requirement for magnification. If your eyes are different, or you want bifocals, you’ll want to see an optometrist. If not, then dollar store reading glasses are safe to use, and are a great bargain for those who are prone to breaking theirs.
Pick: Coffee Filters
Coffee filters at the dollar store are a great deal. There isn't a big difference between the ones at the dollar store and the ones at the grocery store — so save the cash.
While some items are best purchased at the grocery store, with the right guidance there are plenty of good, cheap choices to buy at the dollar store to help you save the extra money.