Dinner at the Dollar Store

By Beacon Staff

The price of food is rising rapidly. So much, in fact, that one in 10 Ohioans and one in six West Virginians are now receiving food stamps. Those who get no government assistance are also suffering as commodity prices outpace wage increases. But, as the New York Times reported today, there is an unconventional way to save without starving: the dollar store.

While I frequent stores where almost everything is a buck or less, I have rarely shopped for food there. I prefer instead to load up on a variety of trinkets that I may or may not use, such as yo-yos, plastic buckets and sidewalk chalk. Next visit, however, I’ll be sure to check out the food aisle armed with recipes.

Dollar and 99-cent stores vary in what they stock and how much of it is edible. The Times writer Henry Alford cooked a week of dinners using mostly foods from Jack’s in New York. Some foods, such as butter and oil were unavailable at the store, so he supplemented when he had no other choice. The dinners concocted, seen on this slide show, appear decadent.

There’s frozen crab cakes on Seabrook Farms vegetables; jarred marinara sauce on salmon; and, my favorite, the no-frills cocktail beef franks. After beginning at Jack’s, Alford continued to 21 more 99-cent stores in Manhattan. Obviously, in western Montana we are limited to one or two stores per city. And keep in mind that a dollar goes a lot farther in Montana than it does in Manhattan. But, like those in larger areas, the inventory changes rapidly and a bargain hunter can still eat for cheap.

Although it may take some practice to perfect those tuna rillettes.