Shopping at dollar stores is another way to save money and trim your budget. I don’t buy a ton of stuff from dollar stores. In my opinion, you get what you pay for when it comes to most of their products, health and beauty in particular. I will pay a little extra for those items because I want to know exactly what ingredients are in the things I give my family to use.
That being said there are certain types of products that are cheaper to buy at the dollar store. So much so that I sometimes buy them from Dollar Tree by the case. I don’t get an extra discount shopping Dollar Tree by the case because everything is still a dollar each. What I do save is time.
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I don’t have to keep going to the store hoping the thing I saw on the website is in my store and in the quantity I need. For example, I like to keep a couple of boxes of dairy free milk in the pantry for when I run out of my regular half gallon size (always mid recipe. Why is that?) After checking the unit price of organic soy milk at several stores (learn how to find the unit price here on Lazy Budget Chef) Dollar Tree has the best price on shelf stable organic soy milk.
Unfortunately my Dollar Tree doesn’t always have soy milk in the store and when they do, I don’t want to be rude and clear the shelf. That’s when I order a case of soy milk from them online and pick it up at the store so I don't have to pay for shipping.
17 Things You Should and Should Not Buy From Dollar Tree by the Case
I don’t buy everything by the case at at Dollar Tree. I don’t have the room to store many things in our small condo and frankly I don’t think it is worth it to store a case of 72 toothbrushes in the house when we only need a two at a time. Often even if the unit price is better, the packaging may be smaller and if it is an item we constantly use, I won’t buy a case because it will fill our recycling and trash bins more often. We try to run a low waste house as much as we can. I'm sure our ancestors will haunt us if don't.
As always, your mileage, experience, and preferences may vary.
Ceramic dinner plates (24 per case) – I bought these specifically for hosting Husband’s large side of the family and to replace disposable paper plates. Don’t buy the silverware – It is thin metal and looks like it will break as easily as disposable plastic silverware.
Ceramic soup bowls (36 per case) – When we have friends over for one of Husband’s famous Choose Your Own Fixings Chili Buffet we never had enough bowls for chili andr the fixings (cheese, onions, cooked sausages, black beans, etc.) Now we do.
Ceramic mugs (24 per case) – To match the party plates and bowls. Crockpot apple cider goes great with chili!
Glass drinking and wine glasses (12 to 24 per case) – Again, my go to for party glasses. If you are a crafter and can’t buy them cheaper wholesale, this is an option to buy and decorate to give as gifts or sell at craft fairs.
Bandanas (24 sets of 2 per case) – I bought a box to use as cloth napkins for parties. You can also use bandannas as place mats. If you’re crafty sew the bandannas together to make a tablecloth or picnic blanket.
Athletic socks (48 sets of 3 per case)– Husband runs 21 miles a week and goes through running socks like a house on fire. There is a limit to how many times you can resew the same sock. I gave up and bought him a case. Don’t buy dress socks - they are cheap and too thin.
Storage containers for a large reorganizing project (24 to 48 per case)– Maybe. If you are working on a big pantry, house, closet organization project and need a massive amount of identical containers this could be an option. Check the size in person if you can before ordering. Dollar store containers tend to be smaller than they look online. Don’t buy mason jars - The unit price is higher at the dollar store than a flat of mason jars at a big box or grocery store, especially if it is on sale.
Hangers (18 to 30 per case) - If you are moving or working on a big closet organization project and need a massive amount of hangers it might be more convent to order a case so you don’t clean the dollar store out.
River rock, decorative glass marbles, or stones (16 to 24 bags per case) – I needed river rocks when I designed the centerpieces for my in law’s anniversary party. My local store didn't have them but the website did and in a quantity I could use.
Glass vases and candle holders (12 to 24 per case) – Maybe. Dollar Tree met the party rental store price for the vases I needed to hold the centerpieces I made for my in law’s anniversary party. I bought them as a better return on investment because I can use them again or flip them on Craigslist for wedding centerpieces. Check the size in person if possible before ordering because dollar store glass decor tends to run small. Don’t buy tea light candles - the unit price is usually cheaper elsewhere.
Glue sticks (24 bags of 20 each)– Some crafters go through mountains of glue sticks, especially if you teach craft classes or sell at craft shows. I don’t but you might.
Organic soy milk (12 32ounces boxes per case) – The unit price of a half gallon of soy milk in the refrigerator case is cheaper than that’s what I buy for daily use. This is for the times I BYODairy Free Milk to make my milk allergy easier on my hosts.
Dried beans (12 12 to 24 ounce bags)– Maybe. Check the unit price because some beans like black and pinto beans can be cheaper elsewhere but kidney beans are a good deal. In this case, I know waht I'm buying because Dollar Tree sells the same brand I buy at the Mexican grocery store. The packages are on the small side. This generated more trash than we liked for our Chili Bar Party. On the other hand it was a good size when donating the rest of the unopened packages to the food pantry.
Bottled water (6 one gallon jugs per case) – I know. I know. Bottle water is a complete over priced waste and normally I’d agree with you. However, when we didn’t have water for several days while our plumber fixed a leak I was grateful Dollar Tree sells cases of water in gallon bottles in the store. I didn't need to special order this one.
Baking soda – Maybe. Double check the unit price on this especially if you have the option to buy it in bulk at Costco, etc. If you use a lot of baking soda for cleaning, etc. .59 cents a box might be a good deal unless you have an Aldi that sells theirs for .49 a box.
Pasta – Maybe. Sometimes there is Barilla white flour pasta for less at Dollar Tree than I see it at Meijer. You’ll have to double check the unit prices on this one because I stick with whole wheat pasta as much as we can and I don’t think Dollar Tree sells it. Don’t buy canned goods – The price seems to be as much or more per unit than the grocery store. I’m not up on the prices of most can goods with the exception of tomatoes. You will need to do the extra homework on this one.
Coconut water (24 17.5 ounce per case) – I see coconut water being sold by the case for much more at the grocery store and international grocery stores than I do at Dollar Tree. We don’t drink it but I know many people who do and buy it by the case. Don’t buy soda, coffee, and tea – You can usually find all three of these items cheaper and in a larger package elsewhere.
Basically I consider buying dollar store items by the case, my chance to shop for something in bulk warehouse club quantities without needing to buy an actual warehouse club membership. I’m not knocking warehouse clubs! We are a small family living in a small house. For now, it isn’t something that works for us full time.
What do you buy at dollar stores? What are your tips?
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