Throughout my life, whenever one of my diets would fail or I needed to justify a trip to the drive-thru, I could always fall back on the excuse that eating healthy costs more than eating junk. Well, two months ago, I had to give up on that excuse. What began as a quick stop for paper towels turned into a life-altering experience. I discovered the wonders of the Dollar Store’s frozen food section.
Over the years, I rarely went out of my way to shop at the Dollar Store unless I needed something like a gift bag or a package of Easter grass. When my daughter was little, if a five dollar bill from her Nana was burning a hole in her pocket, that might be another reason we would stop there. Because my visits to the Dollar Store were so few and far between, I had yet to discover the treasures that awaited me in the freezer aisle.
About two months ago, we ran out of paper towels so, while I was out, I decided to pop into the Dollar Store to get them because it was less of a hassle than dealing with a big store. After I walked in, I made a beeline for the paper products in the far left corner. On my way, I walked past the rear wall of the store and noticed it was lined with a large freezer case. I almost didn’t bother to stop, but something caught my eye. Could it be? The Dollar Store had bags of frozen blueberries for a buck? I usually paid three times that amount at the grocery store. I looked a little closer, and discovered there were bags of strawberries, too. They even had frozen salmon fillets for a dollar. The freezer section of the Dollar Store was turning out to be a little gold mine of deals.
Later, this experience got me thinking about how many of us claim that healthy food is out of our budget, so we opt for the dollar menu at the drive-thru window, instead. I know I’ve done it many times over the years. After seeing how easily accessible and affordable healthy food can be, I made a decision to try eating a healthy Dollar Store diet. I aim to prove that a person can eat real food, that tastes good and is easy to prepare, for very little money. There are three conditions I plan to follow while attempting to prove this theory:
1. The food must taste good and be filling. Anyone can claim it is cheap to eat healthy if they only eat a few broccoli stalks and corn for dinner. I intend to feed my family balanced meals, including protein, on our Dollar Store diet.
2. My Dollar Store meals must be easy to prepare. Fast food is sometimes so alluring because it requires no effort, other than driving to get it. Preparing these meals, with few exceptions, will be quick and easy.
3. Other than perishables, like milk and eggs, the bulk of my meals will come from the Dollar Store. Of course, I will use things I already have in my cupboard, but for the most part, my Dollar Store diet will actually come from the Dollar Store.
My intention is to prove that anyone can afford to eat healthy all the time. I will not be clipping coupons (although that is not a bad idea) or sneaking in expensive ingredients to make my meals taste better. I will track a month’s worth of dinners to show that Dollar Store food is healthy, cheap and tasty enough to eat all the time. There may be nights when I don’t feel like cooking anything elaborate, and other nights when I want to prepare something that requires a little more work. That’s okay, just as long as I stick with mostly Dollar Store ingredients.
The excuses end here. I plan to prove that we can no longer justify eating cheap junk because it’s easier or more affordable than real food. Stay tuned for future Dollar Store diet updates.