Everything we found costs $3 or less.
If you think you can’t buy healthy foods at the dollar store, guess again. I’m here to show you that, if you know where to look, there are actually dirt-cheap grocery staples you can find for under $3 a pop—and they’ve all been vetted by our nutritionist.
Dollar General has been on our radar since they announced their plan to bring fresh produce, veggies and other grocery staples into nearly 200 stores throughout 2018. While the new produce-heavy grocery aisles aren't in every Dollar General location just yet, I wanted to see firsthand how their private food brands (namely Clover Valley) stacked up in the health department.
If you’ve recently shopped at a dollar store, you probably already know they have recognizable food brands lining the shelves—like Terra chips and Kashi cereals—at a much lower price than what you'd pay in a supermarket.
While there are definitely lots of calorie-filled snack bombs and sugary desserts you should avoid, there are also some healthy staple items to be found at a fraction of their normal cost.
Dollar General stocks an impressive spice and seasoning selection, all of which are just $1 or less. You can also find items like baby food, fresh milk, coffee pods, a burgeoning selection of vegan products, and other affordable home items (hello, $1 paper towel rolls!).
Cooking Light's assistant nutrition editor, Jamie Vespa MS, RD, helped me deep dive into the grocery aisles of Dollar General for healthy snacks and meal staples that are all less than $3.
1) Clover Valley Chewy Granola Bars, $2.15
If you're looking for an on-the-go breakfast option, this pack of 10 chocolate chip granola bars is a much healthier (and cheaper) choice than swinging through the drive-through. Each bar has just 90 calories and 7g of sugar.
2) Heartland Harvest Veggie Chips, $1
We know you might be wary of veggie chips in the supermarket aisle, but this option from Dollar General is actually a pretty nutritious ready-to-eat snack. One serving—about 40 chips—clocks in at 130 calories and 250mg of sodium, and the largest portion of fat in this snack is 3g of monounsaturated fat. The entire bag holds three servings, so it's great to share with your family or break into snack-size portions for the week.
3) Clover Valley Dozen Large Eggs, $1.35
I couldn't help but do a double take when I spotted Dollar General's dairy section—there was a variety of cheese, milk, and fresh eggs. The crazy part? A dozen eggs costs just $1.35—about half of what you’d pay in a chain grocery store.
4) Clover Valley Corn Flakes Cereal, $1.50
If you're stressed for time in the morning, turning to cereal can be a healthy choice—but only if you check the label first for sugar. Dollar General's Clover Valley Corn Flakes are a great option at just 100 calories and 2 g of sugar per cup.
5) Clover Valley Quick Oats, $1.65
Oatmeal is a weekday breakfast that healthy home cooks swear by. These Dollar General oats have just 150 calories and pack 5g of protein in each serving—and because they’re ready in a flash, you'll have time to play with the toppings in your oatmeal each morning.
6) Clover Valley Entertainment Crackers, $1
We’re always looking for creative ways to entertain guests without stressing over a fussy spread. These hearty crackers pair well with nearly any cheese plate or dip, and the price is definitely right. Each serving has just 70 calories and 150mg of sodium.
7) Clover Valley Whole Wheat Bread, $1.35
If there's one thing that I'm always running out of in my kitchen, it's bread—but running to the grocery store and standing in line for a loaf always seems like more trouble than it's worth. Dollar General's Clover Valley brand offers multiple kinds of sliced bread, and this whole wheat loaf is a healthy choice—each slice packs just 110mg of sodium, 60 calories, and 11g of carbohydrates.
8) Clover Valley Sweet Peas, $0.65
Dollar General is a great place to stock up canned items, like Clover Valley’s selection of canned veggies. These cans of sweet peas are an unbeatable steal at two cans for $1, and they’re the perfect shelf-stable option for busy weeknights.
9) Clover Valley Mixed Peppers & Onions, $1.95
If frozen vegetables are more your style, you'll be happy to hear there's a slew of frozen veggies available for purchase at Dollar General. These mixed peppers and onions are a great addition to nearly any meal—like your morning omelette or a veggie-heavy sauteé. Skip the prep work and enjoy a whole cup of these pre-chopped veggies for just 25 calories and a mere 25mg of sodium.
10) Clover Valley Mixed 4-Way Vegetables, $1.65
This blend of green beans, carrots, peas, and corn is a weeknight workhorse—simply steam it in the microwave and serve it when you're ready to sit down. A cup of these veggies makes a great side at 60 calories and 25mg of sodium. We're also giving an honorable mention to Clover Valley's frozen Brussels sprouts, which are equally as healthy and delicious.