“Lost your job? Living off that unemployment check doesn’t have to mean days of Bar-S hot dogs and beans, or bologna sandwiches on 99-cent generic white bread,” says rworange. “Depression dining doesn’t have to be depressing.” Finding interesting food at dollar stores and cheap grocery outlets can be a fun scavenger hunt.
“Some even sell wine for $1 a bottle,” says rworange. She has found goodies like hand-rolled straccetti noodles from Italy for $1.49, plus fancy cereal with strawberries, goji berries, and dark chocolate, and 12-ounce packages of frozen wild Pollock fillets, both for 99 cents. “While not all discount stores have a fabulous selection, the point is to give what is near you a look. At worst there might be a few items to add some interest to meals,” says rworange. She discovered her goodies as part of a project to eat like a Chowhound for $3 a day for a week. She did it, although that “doesn’t include the 50 cents per week of condiments, spices, and oils,” she says.
rworange reminds bargain hunters not to get carried away at the cheap stores. Since dollar stores and grocery outlets usually don’t accept coupons, using these at regular grocery stores, or taking advantage of sales, can sometimes result in even bigger bargains.
A final piece of advice for dollar store explorers: “Always check the expiration dates,” says rworange.