How College Students Can Eat From the Dollar Store

College students might be able to find more food options from the dollar store than they had previously considered. We've listed a few ways to make food shopping on a tight budget cheap and easy.

how to save money on groceries

Eating From the Dollar Store

Students are always looking for ways to save. Food is a top priority to any student, especially those who opt out of a meal plan. One of the most popular places to shop is at dollar stores. These shops have popped up in strip malls and offer a wide variety of wares. For only one dollar per item, you can make healthy and tasty meals.


One of a cook's best friends is his or her spice cupboard. With the right spices, even instant rice can become a delicious dish. Dollar stores tend to offer a wide selection of basic spices that even a novice cook will recognize. Garlic powder, parsley, black pepper, salt, basil, onion powder and chili powder can be your secret weapons.

For example, you can ditch the sodium packet that comes with your ramen and add some fat-free seasonings for a new recipe. Be sure to stick to the powders and not the salts, though. Powder is dried and ground herbs, whereas the salts will just add sodium to your diet.

Jarred Ingredients

Pickled and jarred foods last a long time in your cupboard (or closet) and add instant flavor to anything. Dill pickles are fat-free and can spruce up a tuna sandwich. They also make great snacks (look for the big guys for extra crunch). Roasted red peppers are often expensive, but some dollar stores now carry this miracle ingredient. Use the jarring liquid in soups or sauces, and use the peppers in salads, sandwiches and sauces or dice them up to toss with ramen or rice. Look for other ingredients in jars that can add instant flavor like olives, mushrooms, chilies and minced garlic.


Everyone loves sweets and they make excellent midnight snacks when you're studying. Dollar stores are now carrying ingredients for nearly any baking recipe. Cinnamon can spruce up fresh apples (sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar on a cored apple and microwave for one minute for a sweet snack). Baking soda can help deodorize your room as well as make cookies crisp. Brown sugar, flour, vanilla and chocolate chips are now found in the food aisle. Many stores have a refrigerator section that may include butter or milk. Remember - when you know what food is made from, you'll know what you're eating.


Yes, they have chips and candy. To avoid the freshman 15, you need to think outside the norm of nacho chips and peanut butter cups. Dollar stores sell both tortilla chips and salsa - a lower-fat option to potato chips. Once you have salsa in your room, give yourself a carbohydrate boost to get through an evening of studying. Bake a potato in the microwave (pierce the skin with a fork to release steam) until it is fork tender. Top with salsa for a zesty and low-fat snack.


When making a stew or another dish, you'll want to add food that is healthy and will keep you going. Fiber and protein keep your body feeling fuller longer, so be sure to find ingredients that meet these requirements at the dollar store. Canned beans are your best bet, and there are tons to choose from - pair them with some instant rice for a source of healthy, low-cost protein. Canned chicken breast is also an excellent choice for adding protein to your ramen or for making chicken salad sandwiches.


It may be difficult to imagine getting your daily intake of fruit and vegetables from the dollar store, but produce doesn't always need to be fresh. Raisins are just dried grapes and add sweetness to chicken salad or trail mix. Popping them as a snack is also a fat-free option. Canned fruit, when put in light syrup, is also a good way to meet your fruit needs. Applesauce can be found in both jars and single-serving cups. It can be eaten as a snack, with a meal or substituted in a baking recipe. Fruit juices, like cranberry juice, also add fruit to your diet. Just be sure you choose a juice that is natural and not just fruit flavored. And remember, fruit rollups don't count as a fruit serving.

Want to expand your grocery possibilities? Find more places to shop on a student's budget.

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