Do You Shop Discount Stores for Groceries?

Do You Shop Discount Stores for Groceries? Picture

A friend of mine, who doesn’t share my enthusiasm when it comes to thrifty shopping, asked about laundry detergent the other day. I told her what I use and the maximum amount I’ll pay (to which she laughed, since she hadn’t heard of setting a maximum amount on the items she bought).

I mentioned a particular detergent I  use was on sale at a certain store in town. The store, which I won’t mention by name, was one similar to Dollar General, Family Dollar, Freds, and a variety of other lower-cost stores.

With a coupon, my detergent was $3.00 at this store.

Her response: Yeah, but aren’t you afraid to purchase things from that store? Isn’t it all really old and almost expired?

I’d never considered that. I always check expiration dates. If I’m purchasing an item that is ‘fresh’ I make sure it looks fresh: no bruises, not mold, no clumping if it’s dairy. I feel most items I find in these stores will be similar to those found in other stores, like Target. It just so happens I have one of these stores closer to my house, so dropping in for detergent when I can get it at such a steal works well for me.

A few days later, I stopped at a bread store on the way home. This is a ‘last stop’ bread store, and I know it sells bread that is near its expiration date. I bought buns because we were having a cookout that night. I also bought a package of snack cakes for husband man, because I know he likes them and hadn’t had them in a long time.

The buns were fine; the snack cakes didn’t get opened for about four days, and when they did, they were covered in mold, something I couldn’t see prior to opening the container.

Big fail.

So, the detergent was fine, but the bakery items from the day-old store had to get tossed.

I thought about what my friend said. Maybe I shouldn’t spend money at these stores, particularly those that sell fresh items that can go bad. After all, I didn’t save anything when I had to throw out a pack of snack cakes.

Which led me to this question: What is ‘safe’ to purchase at a ‘lower-cost’ store such as these, and what should best be avoided?

Since I don’t know the answers, I’ve turned to a few pros, but I won’t have their responses in time for this article. Instead, I made up some new rules in my head until I do, and I’d like to know what you feel about shopping in the lower-cost stores.

Here’s what I think so far:

  1. Things that expired get purchased at the regular store. Yes, I know everything expires at some point. I mean items like bread, cookies, and other shelf-foods that might have been out for a while already before being shipped to discount stores. I still pick up milk at the local discount store if I’m in there and we need it. I can check the expiration date and see the product prior to buying.
  2. Bread gets purchased at the bakery aisle unless it is loaf bread. This is a new one for me, but lately I’m paying more for bread because I want it to be completely fresh. (Of course I’m a bread fanatic, so there you go.) My one exception: Sandwich bread. I buy whatever is on sale and on the shelves instead.
  3. Cleaning products are good to go at discount stores. I usually clean with items like baking soda and vinegar to keep things environmentally friendly, but I do love bleach and perfume-free detergent. I feel these are fine to buy at discount stores because they have a long shelf life.
  4. Cards and paper products. I buy cards wherever they are cheapest (though usually we make these), which is usually the dollar store. (One exception: The cute store downtown that has some awesomely hysterical birthday cards that I get for my mom!) Things like wrapping paper, notebook paper and school supplies I buy wherever it is cheapest.

What about you? What are your rules about shopping discount stores? Do you or don’t you? Do you trust in what you buy at these stores?


Image via iStock

What do you think?

Do You Shop Discount Stores for Groceries?

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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  1. Sweet4283 says:

    There are some things that I will buy at discount stores. I agree with paper products and cleaning products. Certain items that I have a long shelf life and I can check expiration dates I will purchase as well. I haven’t purchased bread or meats from discount stores. I’m not sure how long it has been out and since that goes bad if not stored properly, I don’t want to take any chances.

  2. Mia says:

    Pregnancy test are a most buy at discount stores, won’t buy fresh produce there but sodas for parties definitely at a discount store. Craft items I check out at discounts first.

  3. Trish says:

    yes i do. anyway to save

  4. Shelbysmommy says:

    I think I agree, for the most part, with your "rules". I rarely get a chance to shop discount stores but the expiring things do concern me. I try to check dates before purchase. Never have gotten around to discount bread stores – not sure of where they’re at near me anyway, but I probably couldn’t handle it since I like my carbs too

  5. mindy says:

    you pretty much have to shop discount these days..

  6. Zaires_Mommy says:

    I am trying to learn how to clip coupons and use them instead of clip em and let them sit until they expire smh.

  7. Cinn1sttime says:

    I enjoy the rush of buying the same product I would see at the major stores for much less at the discount stores. I find that the product are fine, although I don’t buy fresh produce or milk from discount stores.

  8. Andrea says:

    I am always worried about buying meat and dairy fom discount food stores because i am not sure of the quality or where it came from. You know with the name brands you can trust them that the quality will be good. As far everything else I am ok with buying off brands to save money!

  9. Patience says:

    I am a very thrifty shopper, just the way I was raised, but I will not buy fresh produce or cheese from discount stores. I just think they spoil faster.

  10. Laura_21 says:

    If I see two different items that look the same, but one is a brand name and more expensive…I don’t see a reason not to buy the less expensive item!!

  11. KaelinRae says:

    I buy things where ever they are cheapest, or ad match at one of the grocery stores. I do not mind buying the store brand items because a lot of time they are just as good, if not better. I also cut coupons and use them when I can.

  12. MAMASEXXY says:


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