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In the last two years, due to the pandemic, a large part of the population has spent much more time in the kitchen. A MorningConsult survey conducted shortly after the first strike of COVID-19 in early 2020 found that 46% of Americans were cooking more.
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More time in the kitchen means more money spent on the kitchen. Many have invested money in updating their kitchens as well as revamping their aesthetics. Even those who haven’t made drastic changes to their cooking spaces may also be dishing out more batter (pun unintentionally) than they did in pre-pandemic times. So a few dollars here on mason jars and a few dollars there on measuring cups can add up.
With that in mind, is shopping at dollar stores the best way to save on kitchen supplies? It depends. Let’s explore which items are must buys and which are best purchased from more renowned retailers.
“Unbleached coffee filters can cost two to three times more at Walmart and Amazon, while bleached filters can be up to five times more expensive than their dollar store price,” said Nunzio Ross, Founder and CEO of Majesty Cafe. “It’s an essential kitchen item for people who brew their coffee 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, kitchen design expert at Designer appliances. I like to buy the extra large ones for iced teas and lemonade (or candied lemons), the medium ones for storing tomato sauce, and the small ones for leftover soups, sauces, or smoothies.
You can find a wide variety of inexpensive mason jars at Dollar Tree.
“You can find stainless steel scrapers for $1.25 at Dollar Tree, and they’re multi-purpose tools that many home chefs of all skill levels swear by,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “These are good for dividing dough as well as scraping down counters after working with dough or even chopping up some ingredients like homemade pasta.”
“Whatever you need, you can find a 3-pack at dollar stores that will be cheap but effective,” Ramhold said.
A pack of 3 plastic funnels is $1.25 at Dollar Tree.
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Decorative toothpicks and forks
“If you like to entertain and have small versions of snacks for guests, decorative dollar store toothpicks and forks are a great alternative to a standard pack of toothpicks,” Ramhold says. “As they are very affordable, you will be able to dress up your menu with little effort and cost.”
Packets of decorative toothpicks and forks sell for $1.25 each at Dollar Tree.
“One caveat to buying measuring cups at dollar stores is that the markings can fade over time, so you may need to replace them,” Ramhold says. “Still, if you need it for a specific project or don’t mind buying more after a while, you can’t beat the price.”
A set of 4 measuring cups is $1.25 at Dollar Tree.
Bamboo kitchen utensils
“Bamboo utensils are more hygienic than plastic and more environmentally friendly too,” said Dominic HarperTitle, Founder of debt bomb. “You don’t even have to worry about disposal as you can just plant it in your garden and it will degrade easily, making it a very sustainable alternative.”
“You can find glass stemware for much less than big box stores and specialty kitchen retailers — and the styles are very similar,” the budgeting expert says. Andrea Woroch. “For example, you can buy this 20.5-ounce stemless wine glass for $1.25 at Dollar Tree, versus a similar but smaller version at Target for $3.”
Plastic storage containers
“Here’s a set of 3-unit plastic food storage containers from Walmart for $3.72, but you can find a similar option at Dollar Tree for just $1.25 and a savings of nearly $2.50. “Woroch said.
Kitchen items to avoid buying at the dollar store
“Specifically digital timers, as the batteries can be difficult to replace,” Ramhold said. “Of course you can throw that one away and buy another one, but over time it adds up. Also, timers these days are a bit redundant considering most people can make timers on their smartphones and use smart assistants to track them.
“They’re certainly affordable, but they’re usually a mix of metal and plastic, and there’s a good chance the plastic parts will break, which means you’ll have to throw everything away anyway,” Ramhold said.
“The design of pizza cutters in general isn’t great and the cheese and toppings can get stuck in some parts, but buying from dollar stores means you’ll probably be buying a plastic and metal one,” said said Ramhold. “The metal might not be sharp enough to cut your pizza, but again, if the plastic breaks, you’ll have to throw the whole tool away.”
“It will depend on what they are made of, but you might want to avoid dollar store bakeware,” Ramhold said. “They may not conduct heat well, which means you could end up with uneven browning on your baked goods, and depending on the quality of the non-stick coating, you may need to re-grease when you don’t. not wish. Also, these pans are prone to staining very easily, so if you care about the look of your cookware, this might not be the best option.
“Oven mitt prices are tempting at the dollar store, but this is one item you should skip because the quality will be lacking and can be dangerous,” Woroch said. “You won’t get as much protection from hot household surfaces or cooking dishes when using inexpensive oven mitts, so spend more. One way to save while still getting quality is to buy oven mitts at HomeGoods or Marshalls where you get brand name items for up to 60% off.
“The knives available at the dollar store are blunt; they can’t even cut an apple without bending over,” said Johan Liebert, shopping expert and CEO of DazzDeals.
Knives are one of those items that are almost always worth spending more on. You can usually find your basics at a decent price, but you can always level up (to an insane degree, even) by heading to Williams Sonoma, where high-end knives easily cost over $500.
Graters and Slicers
“For the same reason you want to avoid [dollar store] knives, you want to avoid cheap graters and slicers because they’ll be dull and won’t work to properly prepare your food,” Woroch said. “Grab a higher quality option for these kitchen items from Amazon or Walmart to save.”
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