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Dollar Store Shopping


FoodMan
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We have Dollar Tree, Dollar General, a couple more, and DEALS---the BEST. Everything in the store is $1.00 (occasionally a little sign on the shelf will read, "2/$1"). I go in for wrapping paper and come out with mixing bowls (HUGE bright plastic ones; I bought 6 the other day---great for bread or washing produce, etc). I buy all my reading glasses at DEALS---they have several racks up front, and I get the same little 1.50's that I buy at Sam's for $14.95.

We were just mentioning the great quality of the lemons I got there about three weeks ago---they were wrapped three-to-a-pack in those little yellow net tubes like onions come in---and they were the BEST lemons I've found in years. The skin was satin-smooth, they were hefty with juice, and even the bag had a good handfeel, quite good quality, though I don't have a clue why I care.

I've bought wooden spoons, VERY nice rubber spatulas, name brand wrap and parchment and foil, plus I always cruise the freezer section. A couple of months ago, they had Homemade brand ice cream ($5.69 at my local supermarket) for 1.00, and I bought all six. It was super, still WAY within exp. date.

We also picked up a dozen of the garden whimsies, fanciful dragonflies and butterflies and grasshopers, wrought of copper wire with polished-stone decorations, all on tall sticks. We'll use them for party favors at a lunch or dinner on the lawn sometime this Summer.

But my very favorite, I think, is BIG LOTS. I had never heard of it til we moved here about 15 years ago, and when we first started going in occasionally, it was a chaos of scattered items, clothing wrenched from the hangers and lying about underfoot, broken crockery put back mongst the good, etc., but now, thanks to the power of TV and the charisma of Jerry Van Dyke, the stores are filled with shoppers. Bright, open aisles, wonderful selection, great bargains.

I just stand and browse the food aisles, picking out wonderful roasted peppers and caper-stuffed olives and tapenades and jams. I bought their entire stock of E.D.Smith preserves and jams...great square jars of rich jewelly fruit--tripleberry is a delight. Those sell for $5+ at a local market, as well, and made great stocking-stuffers. I love finding pepper jellies and mint jellies and Pirouette cookies and all sorts of spreads and mustards---the 4-oz. jars of very fancy flavored mustards were $2, as opposed to the 3.79 at the other stores.

And there is always one aisle of jars, bottles, urns of foodart. I can think of it no other way---the containers are of graceful shapes, and are filled with carefully-arranged slices of lemons and oranges and whole grapes; there are bottles of olive oil with masses of wasptail peppers arranged into sunbursts and stalactites. Kumquats are arrayed in rows and swirls, a jar may hold pepper slices of great variety and color, along with giant lima beans and baby corn. The variety reaches infinity---it's sculpture and painting and garde manger all in one glass bottle, but you could not THINK of ever actually eating it---too much ATTENTION has been paid to it, by hands unknown. I imagine people sitting in Taiwan or Tijuana, stuffing those lovely bits of color into JUST the right arrangement with long sticks, while dust and the scent of jasmine float through the open windows.

And THEN I saw one of those "entrepreneur" things on Food Channel about a woman whose business makes those things...they were touted as high art and gourmet heaven all in one, and sell for astronomical amounts. I had lumped them in my mind with the bottles of rose-scented bath oil containing a plastic flower and some floating flakes of gold foil, tempting only to third-graders in search of a quick gift for their teacher.

I LOVE shopping at the "cheap" stores!!

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I got the urge to stop at Big Lots while we were out today. Picked up six heavy beautiful clear faceted bottles; I'll grab some corks from our winemaking store and be ready for the herb onslaught this summer. We make glorious oils and vinegars--great for gifts, and though it's a NONO, I love them on a windowsill, catching the light.

Also got some kitchen brushes with a good rubbergrip handle, great for doing the prep-wash before sticking things in the dishwasher. Six crackly-smooth cellophane bags of pretty pastas to go in my clear cannisters on the counter. A pretty little squatty jar of roasted peppers, chopped into a wonderful sauce with lemon juice, capers and herbs. Some pickled jalapenos for Hubby, who likes to hold them up by their tails and eat them in one bite; three pairs of the same Playtex yellow gloves as I get anywhere---99c each.

Also several plastic tablecovers for summer, lots of Easter basket stuffers, some ribbon, lotion and a card---receipt total: 38.19.

And there WERE no veggie-filled bottles anywhere! I spoke too soon. But there always have been. Some of those bottles must hold half a gallon.

Speaking of brushes, I got one of those e-mails that was forwarded for about the fifth time, saying that much energy could be saved and fires averted if we'd all put our dryer filters into hot water with dish detergent and scrub them with a brush once a month. Dryer sheets cause a waxy buildup which covers the screen so that even water can't get through---so I did, and the difference in waterflow is amazing. So now the air can fly through and cut down on drying time and our enormous electric bill. Maybe someone would like to try that. Sorry, hijack!!

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The cheese grater I got at the Christmas Tree Shop for $1.50 has lasted longer than the $15 OXO cheese grater I bought at Bloomingdales; that one crapped out in about 2 weeks!

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I love shopping at our Big Lots for just about anything. I've bought food there many times. The last time I was in there they had boxes of Belgian chocolate mini dessert shells for $1 each - 18 shells to a box. The shells were good quality and hadn't bloomed at all. I filled them with homemade chocolate mousse for a party last weekend and they were a big hit. Our Big Lots has a special "foods of the world" section and they carry all kinds of Mexican, Spanish and other foreign foods. I got a pretty decent wine vinegar there, and I've also picked up olive oils, organic canned tomatoes, etc. I also found a box of black tea that was apparently sold at Harrod's at one point - the box was $3 and contained 32 teabags. The tea is very high quality and the original price tag on the box said 12 pounds. You do have to watch expiration dates, but I think there are great bargains to be found.

I've also gotten all manner of kitchen supplies there - wooden spoons, towels, skewers, etc.

However, if you're ever in Japan (or apparently in Hawaii also :biggrin:) those dollar stores (or 100 yen stores) are AMAZING. I went in every one we passed because the deals were so good. I got a great set of lacquer-like rice bowls there, as well as tons of chopsticks and a two-piece ceramic ginger grater set that is awesome for 500 yen.

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Does anyone here live near a DAISO Japanese Department Store?

I pretty much fitted out my entire (tiny) kitchen from my local Daiso hyaku en shop, apart from my kettle and pans. It's great, and they've actually got some nice ceramic and glassware - I adore my glasses, they have a cool indented shape and could almost be designer. The knife is quite crap, to be honest, but everything else is fine, as far as chopsticks, wooden spoons, utensils, strainer. Also it's great for cute bento accessories, like tiny animal shaped soy sauce bottles.

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In the Dallas area, we have a food dollar store called "The 99 Cent Store".

Most the stuff is crap but there are some real finds. Ricotta, the big quart size for 99 cents, condiments, canned goods, "gourmet items" I found some great Indian pickles there, imported dates, oils etc. They also have other more dollar store kinda items, including kitchen goods. Sometimes you really can find a bargain.

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  • 9 years later...

Excellent source for little glass bowls for mise en place. Also found some nice plastic storage containers with built-in lids for bulk stuff in the pantry and little capped boxes (maybe 3 cubic inches) for a $1/dozen. Great for bulk seasonings. And reading glasses by the dozen.

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