Dollar Store Food Diabetic Friendly?

There is very little ‘food’ that I would buy in a mainline grocery store. 

I made the claim that there is even less in ‘dollar stores’ … but is that true? I visit dollar stores occasionally but never pay attention to their ‘food’ sections.  I decided to investigate. 

The idea for this post began when I shared the picture below on my Facebook page, here’s a link to the original post. I shared this because I believed this was more evidence of the horrible dietary choices people make every day.

Comments shared on the post in support of ‘dollar stores’ raised my curiosity, so I decided to investigate the products at my local Family Dollar store.  

In my mind, dollar store ‘groceries’ were only candy, crackers, cookies and chips… or ‘foods’ of similar quality. Yeah, I knew they had a few items I might buy in a pinch, pork skins, sardines etc.

When I shared the graph above I wrote…

UGH! This is frightening!
… there’s not a lot I would consume in a Whole Foods, but almost nothing I would consume in dollar stores.

The last time I bought an ‘edible’ at a dollar store, it was a couple of years ago. I ate about half the bag of pork skins, didn’t feel right.
Checked the expiration date… It had expired months ago. Lesson learned.

No Food Snob

I am no food snob. By that I mean… my food doesn’t have to be grass-fed beef, pastured pork, free-ranged chickens or totally organic, wild caught foods.  

I do believe foods raised that way would be best for all of us, and for the planet but at this point in time, I don’t think we should try to food-shame people based on how their food was raised.  Baby steps. 

Having said that, I do try to eat as ‘clean’ as possible. Limiting added chemicals in addition to avoiding soy, sugar, gluten, and vegetable oils as much as possible. 

That’s why I follow this meal plan.  ❤

Not A Lot at Whole Foods

Next let me address my statement about Whole Foods.

There really isn’t a lot that “I” would buy at Whole Foods.

  • Many of their products are the typical high carb, low-fat, glutenous, soy or vegetable oil based… food-like products that I avoid. 
  • I would buy their meats (fish, beef, poultry, pork) if they were competitively priced, but at least where I live… their prices are not competitive. 
  • I rarely eat plants (vegetables, fruits, nuts or berries) and when I do they are often gifted by those who grew them, or  I forage them myself.

So as you can see, there really isn’t a lot that *I* would buy at Whole Foods.  Yes, I would buy their meats if I was miles from another grocery store, but that is never the case for me. 

Almost Nothing at Dollar Stores

Now we get to the ‘meat’ of this post. ?

I love shopping at Dollar Tree, but I’ve never bought their ‘food’ offerings. There isn’t one close by at the time of this writing so I didn’t include any of their products in this comparison. I may do so later if there is interest.  

I did visit my local Family Dollar store. 

Family Dollar Food

I originally stated that there was ‘almost nothing’ that I would buy to eat in a  “dollar store”.

Friends responded defending the dollar stores, saying: 

  • They now sell meat, cheese, eggs and dairy 
  • People shop there for the low prices

I started thinking, could I be wrong???  Of course I ‘could’ be.   ?

So I decided to investigate by visiting my local Family Dollar store. 


I was actually surprised. and yes I was wrong! There are several things that I *could* buy. There are better options I believe but in a pinch I could buy… 

  • ground beef and frozen ground beef patties! – the patty ingredients were beef, water, spice, and salt … I’ve seen worse on frozen beef patties in grocery stores. 
  • bacon – the bacon they sold had the same ingredients as bacon sold in grocery stores.
  • sausage – they sold Jimmy Dean sausage. I don’t normally eat that brand due to the ingredients, … but I could in a pinch. 
  • eggs – yes! They sold eggs, sausage and bacon!
  • cheese – their cheese appeared to be of similar quality and ingredients to ‘house’ brands sold in grocery stores. 
  • canned meats – sardines, tuna, and chicken 

Look, I’m not saying Family Dollar is a health food store!  I’m not saying you should buy all or any of your food there. 

I am saying… you could buy your food from there if you had to and you could remain ‘diabetic friendly’.

Diabetic Friendly is a phrase I use for foods that do not spike my blood sugars.


Ok, they have foods that I “could” eat … in a pinch.  What about pricing? Several people mentioned cost as a major factor for shopping at ‘dollar stores’.  I know people generally think the dollar stores have lower pricing, but do they? 

I will tell you from my own limited experience in the past (years ago) … I always thought of them as being between convenience stores and large grocery stores regarding pricing.

In other words, dollar stores were cheaper than street corner convenience stores but more expensive than large grocery store chains. 

The only time I’ve ever bought food from a dollar store was due to convenience, no other stores in the area.  

So I did some comparison shopping between Family Dollar and Foodlion.  I am using their normal pricing, not sales or ‘mark down’ pricing. 

The first grouping are items that I would buy in a pinch, the 2nd grouping are items that I would not buy, but I know most people do.

Note: I could eat the turnip greens, but I prefer to spend my money on nutrient dense foods, like meat, cheese and eggs. :) 

Overall it was a tie. Just using the first grouping, the foods that I could eat, Foodlion had better pricing on those items. 

Once again, I was wrong. I thought Family Dollar would be higher on pretty much everything. It was not. 

Adventures & Food Sourcing

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing long distance kayak, biking or hiking adventures. One of the main concerns is food or fuel.  I can’t (or won’t) pack typical foods that people would take on such a journey.  Most are heavy in carbs, sugar, gluten and preservatives.  

Ivey Smith (an awesome human by the way) hiked the Appalachian Trail said, “I had to resupply at dollar stores while on the AT ?haha some towns along the trail are so small, it’s either a dollar store or a gas station.”.

Food sourcing is my single biggest concern. In many small towns a ‘dollar store’ is the only option for 10-20 miles.  If you are driving your car, that’s not a big deal. If you are hiking, kayaking or biking… it can be a very big deal for me. 

So my investigation and the comments to my original post helped answer a big question for me. 

Thanks everyone! 

Almost Nothing

This exercise was eye-opening for me.  I doubt that I will change my buying habits but dollar stores can add food sourcing flexibility, especially on adventures.  

There are foods that I *could* eat, in a pinch… that are diabetes friendly. 

I hope it was educational for you… especially if you shop at dollar stores for ‘lower food pricing’.  They are not always the lowest prices.

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