Spoiler alert: A boatload of savings.

By Michelle Darrisaw
November 07, 2017
Credit: Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

We don't have to convince you how great dollar stores are for last-minute party essentials, like plastic cutlery and plates, tablecloths, and, of course, helium-filled latex balloons. Your average Dollar Tree, 99 Cents Only Stores, or Dollar General stores in the South can also be a quick pit stop for household and school essentials, beauty products, and cleaning and craft supplies. But, the question begs to be asked, have you unlocked the vast potential of these retailers whose claim to fame is that everything (yes, everything!) only costs a buck? More specifically, have you dared to venture down the food aisles and frozen section at dollar stores?

If you've previously scoffed at filling your fridge and pantry with dollar-store finds, let us be the first to tell you that you're missing out, especially if the size of your family and your budget doesn't always lend itself a trip to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or even their low-cost competitor, Aldi. While you may be aware of the Dollar Tree's individually-packaged cuts of chicken or fish and their $1 loaves of Captain John's sandwich bread, we were surprised to learn that even larger families can save money on groceries there as well. When you're looking for a budget-friendly option in between trips to your local grocery store, try the Virginia-based discount chain to stock your kitchen. Here are seven reasons why your wallet (and empty stomach) will thank you.

1. Name-Brand Items for $1

Despite the fact that the food products are priced at $1, you can still purchase a wide array of name-brand items, from Pringles and Frito-Lay to breakfast standbys such as Pop-Tarts and Quaker Instant Oatmeal. That also goes for beverages, dry beans, and baking ingredients.

2. A Frozen Section That Goes Beyond Bland Boxed Dinners

Craving ribeye steak? Yep, they've got pre-seasoned boneless beef steaks. What about something more fancy like salmon and cod? They carry those fish selections, too. Whether you need chicken drumsticks and thighs for a quick weeknight dinner or pre-cooked meatballs as appetizers for holiday parties this season, Dollar Tree has you covered. There's just one tiny problem with the frozen food offerings, particularly when it comes to meat, they tend to come in smaller portion sizes, with maybe one or two cuts in the vacuum-sealed packaging.

3. Fresh Food and Dairy Products

With the exception of fresh fruit and vegetables (although, you can buy frozen berries and veggie blends) you can get most fresh food items and dairy products at the Dollar Tree. Yes, that includes loaves of bread, gallons of milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and eggs—all for a fraction of the cost.

4. Certified Savings by Moms and Food Bloggers

One blogger wrote about her shopping experience at the Dollar Tree and posted her shopping list and meal plan as well. With a budget of $50, she was able to buy enough food to feed two for an entire week. Cha-ching!

5. Food for the Little Ones

For your older, picky kids there are boxed treats, snacks, and plenty of candy to choose from at the Dollar Tree. But for the youngest member of your family, the store also carries a variety of jarred baby food.

6. Bulk Buys

Walmart, Sam's Club, and Costco aren't the only value chains to offer in-store pickup and bargain buys in bulk. The Dollar Tree assists with large purchases by offering you the option to have your items shipped directly to the store. The best part? Shipping is free.

WATCH: 5 Grocery Items You Should Buy In Bulk

7. Pantry Staples

Spices, seasonings, canned vegetables, jarred olives, bread and muffin mixes, and, of course, Texas Pete hot sauce, can be found on the shelves at most Dollar Tree stores.