While dollar stores are great for products like paper plates and party supplies, surprisingly, you can find healthy food products scattered throughout the aisles too! From canned fruits and veggies to high-protein foods like beans and nuts, smaller convenience stores often sell a variety of healthy, affordable ingredients.
Whether you’re shopping for the week or need just a few items here and there, these 10 ingredients and products will help you shop healthier and save more at the dollar store.
Oats are loaded with fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. And you can use oats in several different ways. Add some raw oats to a fruit smoothie for a thicker texture. Or make plain oatmeal and top it with some sliced almonds or blueberries (from the frozen food aisle). You could also try these recipes from Shape Your Future:
2. Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Most dollar stores don’t carry fresh produce, but they can be great places to buy it frozen or canned. You’re likely to find canned foods like green beans, beets, mixed veggies, spinach, pears and peaches. If your local store has a frozen aisle, look for bags of frozen fruit, mixed veggies, pepper stir-fry and broccoli.
Stock up on frozen or canned fruits and veggies and try these recipes:
Dried or canned beans are packed with protein, and are often available on dollar store shelves. Make some black bean tacos with frozen veggies, frozen corn and rice. Dump them into some soup or chili for the ultimate fiber boost. Or click below to try our un-bean-lievably tasty Skinny Black Bean Flautas.
4. Ramen Noodles
As long as you ditch the salty seasoning that comes with it, a healthy dinner is doable with a pack of ramen noodles. Mix it with some easy-to-make 5-Minute Tomato Sauce and some basil for a simple Italian dish. Combine it with a medley of frozen veggies, or try the recipes below!
You can ramp up the flavor of most recipes with a few simple herbs and spices. And you can rack up the savings by purchasing them at the dollar store. Stock your spice rack with a few staples like garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and basil, which can be used on a variety of dishes. Use some chili powder in our 3-Can Chili recipe. Or try some paprika, cinnamon and salt in our Sweet and Smokey Peas recipe.
6. Nuts and Other Snacks
When your next snack attack attacks, go nuts (unsalted, that is). Most dollar stores and convenience stores carry a variety of nuts, from peanuts to almonds to similar items like sunflower seeds. You can also try other snack options like nutrition bars, trail mix or unbuttered popcorn. Add some zing to your snacks with the recipes below!
7. Brown Rice
Bag some healthy opportunities with a bag (or box) of brown rice. It’s a healthier alternative to regular white rice. Make a big batch of it at the beginning of the week, and store the leftovers in the fridge. Then, simply reheat your rice and serve it with different meals throughout the week. Try it with some Chicken Veggie Risotto or mix it with some frozen veggies for a nutrient-packed lunch on the go.
8. Citrus Juicer
If you can find a citrus juicer at your dollar store, pick it up pronto. With citrus juicers, you can juice lemons and limes in just seconds, making it easy to add a flurry of flavor to your meals. Create your own salad dressings. Give Mexican dishes a kick with a spritz of lemon. Or make some mouthwatering infused water recipes.
9. Veggie Peeler
A veggie peeler is a simple purchase that can be quite appealing in the kitchen. Peel some carrots and zucchini to create veggie “noodles” for a healthy pasta twist. Or peel ribbons off apples or cucumbers and top your salad with them.
Dollar stores are ideal places to buy Tupperware. The handy containers are affordable and can help make it easier to eat healthier. Use a container as a salad shaker or lunchbox. Or load up on Tupperware, then try meal prepping. Cook several meals at once, then freeze and reheat them throughout the week. They make for a quick, easy dinner on a busy evening.
BONUS TIP: Read Labels
When buying packaged food, read the labels — and not just the nutrition facts. Check out the food’s ingredients, and avoid products with added sugars, fats and preservatives. If you see words like “high fructose corn syrup,” “sodium nitrates” or “artificial sweeteners,” set the item down and look for a healthier option.
To make it easy, download our Pocket Label Reading Guide and take it with you to the store.
Next time you visit the dollar store, keep these tips and recipe ideas in store. With a little research, creativity and the tips above, you can stretch your dollar and live a healthier, happier life. For more healthy tips and recipes, visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com.