Canned tomatoes are one of the ingredients for cheap healthy meals that the Dollar Tree store sells.
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The Dollar Tree store sells ingredients for cheap, healthy meals. Here's some suggustions.

When my husband and I moved to a new city, I noticed there was a Dollar Tree Store close to our apartment complex, but didn’t give it much thought.  Little did I know we would be doing a lot of shopping there.  Then, I lost a major freelance writing client.  It became necessary to survive on very little money.  I was not, however, willing to sacrifice our health.  With a little creativity, and a lot of looking around, I learned how the Dollar Tree store could give us cheap healthy meals.

Canned Vegetables

If you, like me, have spent a little (OK a lot) of time watching cooking shows, you probably heard people and white vests proclaim “fresh is best.” You might have even heard them sneer at canned goods.  Well, despite popular opinion, I happen to know that some things are just as good canned as they are fresh.  Canned beans, for example.  These are great source of protein and vegetable-based fiber.  Though my husband isn’t exactly crazy about vegetable protein, he likes beans in chili or burritos, which really helps me stretch our food budget.

Another canned vegetable that makes me squeal with delight when I see it in my local Dollar Tree Store is the tomato (yes yes I know it’s technically a fruit).  Canned tomatoes have just as much vitamin C as fresh tomatoes, and the cooking may undergo during the canning process actually makes them more nutritious.  Cooking releases lycopene, a naturally-occurring chemical compound that helps protect your eyes.  I like to use them to make spaghetti sauces, pizza sauce, and soup.

Packaged Milk

One day few weeks ago, will I was walking around the cleaning supplies section at the Dollar Tree store looking for laundry detergent.  I happened to glance back toward the food section and my jaw dropped. I saw soy milk packaged in self-stable containers. We’ve been using soy milk a long time; my husband is lactose intolerant and I do not like the results when he consumes dairy. Getting the packaged soy milk was a no brainer for us. For those not used to soy milk, it’s great in a fruit smoothie or mixed with just a little chocolate syrup.


I don’t much care for cold cereal for breakfast, but it is a nice bedtime snack. Our local Dollar Tree store sells bagged corn flakes. The first time we got them, I was skeptical. They were smaller and thicker than the major brands we’re used to. But one bowl, and I was a convert. Those flakes – a good source of fiber -- didn’t get soggy like our favorite, more expensive brand did.

Frozen Fruit and Veggies

When I first walked into the Dollar Tree store and saw a freezer case, I expected it to be full of French fries, tator tots, sugary confections and other crappy food. I wasn’t disappointed. There was an abundance of those things. However, on the lower shelves, I got a surprise. Packages of frozen fruit and vegetables, with no syrup or sauce added. Added to a smoothie or turned into a quick stove-top jam, the fruit was the perfect addition to a healthy breakfast, while the veggies made a quick evening stir-fry easy. The packages were also half the price of similar items available at the market.