9 Kitchen Items You Should Buy at the Dollar Store, and Some To Avoid
Over the past two years, due to the pandemic, much of the population has been spending a lot more time in the kitchen. A MorningConsult survey conducted shortly after COVID-19 first struck in early 2020 found that 46% of Americans were cooking more.
More time spent in the kitchen means more money spent on the kitchen. Many have been dumping dollars into upgrading their kitchens as well as overhauling their aesthetic. Even those who haven’t been making drastic changes to their cooking spaces may also be dishing out more dough (pun not intended) than they did in pre-pandemic times. So, a few bucks here on mason jars and a few bucks there on measuring cups can add up.
With that in mind, is shopping at dollar stores the best way to save on kitchen products? It depends. Let’s explore which items are must-buys and which are best bought at more renowned retailers.
“Unbleached coffee filters can cost two to three times as much at Walmart and Amazon, while bleached ones can reach up to five times pricier than their dollar-store price,” said Nunzio Ross, founder and CEO at Majesty Coffee. “It’s an essential kitchen item for people who brew their coffees at home, and they don’t have to be expensive.”
“You won’t find a better deal on Mason jars of all sizes anywhere else,” said Elyse Moody, a kitchen design expert at Designer Appliances. I like buying the really large ones for iced teas and lemonade (or preserved lemons), medium ones for storing tomato sauce, and small ones for leftover soups, sauces, or smoothies.
You can find an extensive variety of low-price Mason jars at Dollar Tree.
“You can find stainless steel bench scrapers for $1.25 at Dollar Tree, and these are some multi-use tools that many home chefs of all skill levels swear by,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “These are good for dividing up dough as well as scraping counters down after working with dough or even chopping certain ingredients like homemade pasta.”
“Whatever you need them for, you can find a 3-pack at dollar stores that will be cheap but effective,” Ramhold said.
A 3-pack of plastic funnels goes for $1.25 at Dollar Tree.
Decorative Toothpicks and Forks
“If you enjoy entertaining and having small versions of snack foods for guests to feast on, the decorative toothpicks and forks at dollar stores are a great alternative to a standard pack of toothpicks,” Ramhold said. “As they’re super affordable, you’ll be able to dress up your menu with little effort and cost.”
Packages of decorative toothpicks and forks retail for $1.25 each at Dollar Tree.
“One caveat about purchasing measuring cups from dollar stores is that the markings may rub off over time, so you may find that you have to replace them,” Ramhold said. “Still, if you need them for a specific project or don’t mind having to buy more after a time, you can’t beat the price.”
A 4-set of measuring cups goes for $1.25 at Dollar Tree.
Bamboo Kitchen Utensils
“Bamboo utensils are more sanitary than plastic and more eco-friendly as well,” said Dominic HarperTitle, founder of Debt Bombshell. “You don’t even have to worry about the disposal because you can just plant it in your backyard and it will degrade easily, making it a very sustainable alternative.”
“You can find glass drinkware for much less than big box stores and specialty kitchen retailers — plus styles are very similar,” said budgeting expert Andrea Woroch. “For example, you can snag this 20.5 ounce stemless wineglass for $1.25 at the Dollar Tree, versus a similar yet smaller version at Target for $3.”
Plastic Storage Containers
“Here’s a 3-count plastic food storage container set from Walmart for $3.72 but you can find a similar option at Dollar Tree for just $1.25 at a savings of nearly $2.50,” Woroch said.
Kitchen Items To Avoid Buying at the Dollar Store
“Specifically the digital timers, as the batteries may be hard to replace,” Ramhold said. “Sure, you can toss that one out and buy another, but over time that adds up. Plus, timers these days are kind of redundant given that most people can do timers on their smartphones as well as employ smart assistants to keep track for them.”
“They’re definitely affordable, but they’re usually a mix of metal and plastic, and there’s a good chance that the plastic parts can break, which means you’ll have to toss the whole thing anyway,” Ramhold said.
“The design of pizza cutters in general isn’t great and cheese and toppings can get stuck in certain parts, but purchasing from dollar stores means you’ll likely be buying one that’s plastic and metal,” Ramhold said. “The metal may not be sharp enough to cut your pizza, but again, if the plastic breaks, you’ll have to toss the whole tool.”
“It’ll depend on what they’re made of, but you may want to skip bakeware at dollar stores,” Ramhold said. “They may not conduct heat well, which means you could end up with uneven browning on your baked foods, and depending on the quality of nonstick coating, you may end up having to do extra greasing when you don’t want to. Additionally, these pans are likely to stain really easily so if you care about the look of your bakeware, these may not be the best option.”
“Prices on oven mitts are tempting at the dollar store, but this is one item you should skip because quality will be lacking and can prove to be dangerous,” Woroch said. “You won’t have as much protection from home hot surfaces or baking dishes when using cheaply made oven mitts, so spend more. One way to save and still get quality is to buy oven mitts from HomeGoods or Marshalls where you get brand name items for up to 60% less.”
“The knives available at the dollar store are blunt; they can’t even cut through an apple without bending in half,” said Johan Liebert, shopping expert and CEO at DazzDeals.
Knives are one of those items that are almost always worth spending more on. You can usually find your basics for a decent price, but you can always level up (to an insane degree, even) by heading over to Williams Sonoma, where top-of-the-line knives easily go for over $500.
Graters and Slicers
“For the same reason you want to avoid [dollar store] knives, you want to avoid cheaply made graters and slicers because they will be dull and not function to get your food prep done well,” Woroch said. “Pick up a brand name better quality option for these kitchen items from Amazon or Walmart to save.”
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