Soup du Jour Vlog: Dollar Tree Budget Shopping Trip

soupdujour_blogbuttonI had such eye-opening experience during the Food Bloggers Against Hunger campaign.  Having participated in several food drives, I understood the number of Americans living with food insecurities, however, I had no idea how difficult it is to feed a family with only $4 per meal per person to spend.  The difficult really hit home for me when trying to planning a $4 meal.

If I ran out of my favorite spices like cumin and oregano, would I be able to restock my pantry with those items with only $4 per meal?  A bottle of olive oil would blow that budget.  I realize the price per use for these items is minimal but the upfront cost is significant.  I only buy it once and it lasts a long time.  But what if I ran out of olive oil or my favorite spices?  Could I afford to replace those items with only $4 per meal to give?

Obviously, Target and Walmart wouldn’t be the best place to restock those items.  Even the cheaper bulk bottles of Badia brand spices costs about $4 at most grocery store.  Again, that’s the cost of an entire meal.  Save-A-Lot didn’t leave up it its name for low prices for food.

So, I arranged a budget shopping trip to the Dollar Tree and investigated the cost of spices and other essential meal planning ingredients there.  Although the quality may not be the same as the Badia or Organic Archer Farms Spices that I normally use, some spice sacrifices would need to be made with only $4 per meal.

To my surprise, I found Dollar Tree to be a treasure trove of spices to fill your pantry.   I also discovered some other great deals.

In my Food Blogger Against Hunger aha moment, I made a promise to donate spices, olive oil, chicken stock and other non-perishable food items that are necessary to prepare flavorful foods, but are too pricey for families dealing with food insecurities.

I encourage you to donate some too.

What aha moments have you had lately?


  1. Lora says:

    I love the idea of donating. I want to start to donate more education-related food help to low income families. I’ve been especially inspired by the Edible Peace Patch lately.

    I’m a quality freak, however, and even try to dry my own herbs and only buy spices from places with high turn-over. (And don’t get me started on olive oil lol…) How was the actual flavor and quality? I just can’t imagine many of the things you bought are purchased by the average Dollar store shopper, which is what worries me. (They *SHOULD* be buying it, but most low income families don’t even cook with spices or olive oil, which is the frightening thing!!)

  2. Lane @ Supper for a Steal says:

    It’s funny there are a tons of new Dollar Trees popping up and the older ones in the low income areas don’t have half of this stuff you just found. At the higher income Dollar Trees I have seen all sorts of frozen foods and spices. While they most likely aren’t the best quality at least it gives people access to spices they might not have been able to get before.

  3. Sarah Brown says:

    This was very informative, Denise! I love the Dollar Tree but I always skipped the food aisle because I assumed it was all junk. Next time I’m there I’ll check it out!

  4. Kelly Wade says:

    This makes a lot of sense because meals made with little money would probably get a lot of help from some simple spices and cooking techniques. When I moved into my apartment I went to the dollar store for things like glasses and plates, but also realized that the spices and frozen veggies and the like were all very cheap. It really is the best place to go when on a very tight budget.

  5. Amalia says:

    What a brilliant idea! I am going to the food bank with my Starbucks in early May, and I will be bringing a whole bunch of these kind of things with me.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Kim says:

    I’m like Sarah – I’ve never really checked out the food at the Dollar Store. Love the idea of donating spices and basics!

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