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Are Dollar Tree Foods Comparable to Name Brands? We’ve Got Kid-Tested Results…

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Have you ever been to your local Dollar Tree and walked down the food aisle wondering if any of their food items were worth buying? I sure have.

Well, I recently went to my Dollar Tree store and decided to purchase 10 store-brand food items priced at $1 each to perform a taste-test challenge with my two boys comparing them to the same name-brand items that I bought at Target. They LOVED it! ๐Ÿ˜€

Without knowing the brand, I first asked my boys to look at each item and tell me offhand which one looked better overall to them. Then, I asked them to taste each of the items and tell me which one tasted better to them overall. Some brands tasted much better than others, whereas some were a tie.

Please Note: Everyone’s taste preferences will vary, so consider testing these items for yourself and see what you think! ๐Ÿ˜Š Also, note that products sold at Dollar Tree will vary by region.

Here’s what they tested…

1.) Reddi-Wip vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Dollar Tree
  • Which one tasted better? Tied

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

Go for the 6.5oz Dollar Tree Dessert Topping and pay just $1 instead of $2.29 at Target for the same size! Although Reddi-Wip is a bit creamier as it’s made with real cream, you won’t notice much difference in the end, especially if you’re planning on using it as a topping on fruit or desserts.


2.) Kraft Macaroni & Cheese vs. Dollar Tree (3-Pack)
  • Which one looked better? Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
  • Which one tasted better? Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Final Verdict: Kraft Wins!

Save your pennies here and pay 99ยข for Kraft instead of $1 for a 3-pack at Dollar Tree! The Dollar Tree Mac and Cheese was clumpy, greasy and just did not taste as good overall. The kids said they would eat it if they had to but would prefer the Kraft variety if given the option.


3.) Quaker Granola Bars vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Dollar Tree
  • Which one tasted better? Tied

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

The Dollar Tree Granola Bars (5.3oz box) were a little harder to chew and less chocolatey but tasted great overall! The 6.7oz Quaker Chewy Granola Bars priced at $2.49/box at Target were softer and tasted a bit sweeter even thought both boxes have the same sugar content. For $1, Dollar Tree wins!


4.) Nabisco Wheat Thins vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Wheat Thins
  • Which one tasted better? Tied

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

The 7oz Thin Wheat Crackers from Dollar Tree had a bit more “wheat” taste to them and were filled with little air pockets but overall tasted great. Why pay $2.69 for a 9.1oz box of Wheat Thins when you can pay $1 for a 7oz box of comparable Thin Wheats at Dollar Tree?!


5.) Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
  • Which one tasted better? Dollar Tree Sugar Flakes

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

Both cereals tasted very similar when eaten with milk and my kiddos said they would happily eat either one of the cereals! With that being said, why pay $2.99 for a 15oz box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes when you can grab a 12oz box of Sugar Flakes for $1 and not really notice much difference!?


6.) Smucker’s Red Raspberry Preserves vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Smucker’s
  • Which one tasted better? Tied

Final Verdict: Tie!

The Smucker’s Preserves was a bit more tart and jelly-like whereas the Dollar Tree brand had more raspberry seeds and seemed more like a spread. I also tasted both jellies and actually thought they both tasted good. BUT I would rather pay $1 instead of over $3 for an 18oz jar of Raspberry Preserves!


7.) Keebler Club Crackers vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Tied
  • Which one tasted better? Tied

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

I thought it was interesting that my Dollar Tree sold the Kroger brand of Club Crackers for just $1. Although the Keebler Club Crackers had a little crisper bite to them, these crackers tasted exactly the same. Why pay $2.97 for a 13.7oz box at Target when you can snag a 16oz box for $1 at Dollar Tree?


8.) SuperPretzel Frozen Pretzels vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? SuperPretzel
  • Which one tasted better? SuperPretzel

Final Verdict: SuperPretzel Wins!

Although my boys said they would eat either types if given to them, the Dollar Tree Soft Pretzels were much harder and chewier than the SuperPretzel soft pretzels. If you like chewy, harder pretzels, you may be happy paying $1 for a 6ct box at Dollar Tree, instead of $2.29 for SuperPretzels at Target.


9.) Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Dollar Tree
  • Which one tasted better? FarmRich

Final Verdict: FarmRich Wins!

Although the oozing cheese from the Snapp’s Cheese Sticks looked somewhat appetizing on the tray, whenever my boys bit into one, they were essentially a hollow fried stick (all the cheese was on the tray). The FarmRich Cheese Sticks held their cheese inside much better and overall just tasted great.


10.) Keebler Fudge Stripes vs. Dollar Tree
  • Which one looked better? Keebler
  • Which one tasted better? Dollar Tree

Final Verdict: Dollar Tree Wins!

The Dollar Tree Fudge Striped Shortbread cookies were not as sweet as the Keebler Fudge Stripes, but they were surprisingly delicious! To me, the Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies tasted a bit more “processed” whereas the Dollar Tree brand had a nice chocolatey, cookie taste. Why pay $2.69 for an 11.5oz package of cookies when you can pay $1 for a larger 13oz package of yummy cookies?


 

Join The Discussion

Comments 111

  1. Shebella Blackmon

    Interesting research, I enjoyed reading the post. I would have loved to have done this with some of my own kids when they were younger.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚ My boys loved doing it!

  2. thanks!

    Love this post!!! Thank you!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      You are so welcome! Glad you liked it!

  3. Taylor S.

    For mac and cheese- give walmart’s “3 cheese” boxed mac a try! Its 34 cents and tastes almost identical to kraft!

    • Amanda

      My kids don’t like Kraft so much now that it’s more natural-or whatever. I think they took out red #3 which my kids LOVED– apparently.

    • Alison

      Yes! Walmart’s Great Value Three Cheese is SO good! We actually prefer it over Kraft and I’ve always been a “blue box” girl!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Good to know! We’ll have to try that one!

  4. Alli

    This post is awesome! I’m just always afraid to test off brand items and not like them, lol.

  5. Steph

    Great post. I would love to see an aldi version of this post too. I’ve heard many people say they love shopping at aldi but I can’t get past not knowing the brands.

    • allyson

      I highly recommend giving Aldi a try! I buy a large majority of my food from Aldi and tell everyone I know to check them out.

    • Lpmousse

      I โค๏ธ ALDI. I do 90% of my grocery shopping there, and am usually happy with everything I get there. They also have a double guarantee- don’t like it, and they will pay you back for it & replace it.

      • Anna

        yes! I do the bulk of our shopping there! Love the fantastic prices and small layout that allows me to get in and out quickly

    • Lana

      Keep your receipt and you can return anything you do not like for a full refund and there are no hassles.

      • Jacqueline

        Is that opened as well?

    • Amy

      Yesss!! Agree! I bought the aldi version of velveeta in a pinch once for this dip my sister loves and it wasn’t even noticeable. It’s several dollars cheaper too!

    • Della

      I recently started shopping at Aldi and do not regret it one bit. I save so much money and am able to get more food still. Every single thing I have tried I like just as much as the name brand equivalent. I don’t coupon much anymore and there isn’t much of a need to at Aldi.

      • Aurielle

        Yes, I love Aldi for most groceries as well.

    • mckeeversmom

      Aldi’s is the best. I drive 90 miles each way and pay $4. in bridge fare each way to shop there about once every six weeks. The savings make it worth it. For example–Aldi Greek Yogurt 69 cents vs on sale Yoplait or Chobani for $1. You can’t beat getting your money back plus another of the item if you are dissatisfied. AND, their produce is wonderful! I know the price varies by store location, but I’ve been paying under $1. for a GALLON of milk and I never pay more than 75 cents for a dozen eggs.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Oh I am jealous – wish we had an Aldi here!

      • Daphne

        I’m jelly, too!!!

    • Brie

      Agree! ALDI is also great at not using artificial food dyes and other questionable flavors in their food!

    • Steph-B

      I love Aldi .. In Fact I shop here always! Then when I need specialty items for a recipe I go to Cub just for that item. They also have a double back guarantee — money back and a new box or whatever item you weren’t satisfied with. Honestly, I like Aldi brands over many popular brands.

      Money comparison example;
      Aldi queso fresco is 2.99 and at cub is 4.53. Cubs was also only half the size of the Aldi brand.

    • KathG

      I like Aldi, too, for certain foods! Their version of Fudge Stripe cookies are just as good as Keebler’s, but only $1.19 I think. We also buy their Girl scout Tagalong & Thin Mint -like cookies. I think they actually taste *better* & only cost about $1.39-ish! (Wish I had a recent coupon with prices…sorry I am just guessing at our local Columbus, OH prices) We always buy ALDI’s brand Chewy Bars, Pop Tarts, Nutty Bars, HoHos & cereal; staples like sugar, flour, milk; & produce like mushrooms, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, & spinach since the price can’t be beat for the most part. But I find most of their produce doesn’t look fresh/good. And certain things could be cheaper at the other stores for brand name items on sale when paired with a coupon.

  6. Jess

    Just a heads up- my mom hated the dollar tree whip cream, she said the taste was fine, but it left a weird “film” on her tongue and the roof of her mouth..gross lol.

    • Steph

      I know that film feeling. I think it’s a processed oil thing. Gross indeed. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. Bev

    Great post, but I have read some of the food labels there, made in china etc.. which I won’t buy, also some say packaged in the USA which doesn’t always mean made in the USA

    • Laura

      Thanks for the heads up!

    • Mamabeartofivecubs

      Totally agree with you on this. Even my kids know to check & see if it’s “made in China” when it comes to food- it just baffles me ๐Ÿค”

    • Michele

      Yes! I will not buy food from China!!

    • Elle

      I agree! A lot of my concern with dollar food items is not taste, but safety. My local 99cent only store often has name brands that are nearing “expiration.” I feel a little more confident with those.

  8. Dawn C.

    Oh my goodness ! Thank you so much for this post. I always wondered myself about the foods at Dollar Tree.
    Thanks for saving me so much over the years even though I am in Rhode Island a lot of your posts work here also.
    Thanks !

  9. tina

    Love this!!! Do more taste tests like this with the kids for us!!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Glad you liked it! Hopefully we can do another taste test soon! Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Kay

    My hubby is ADDICTED to the Dollar Tree Oats & Honey chewy granola bars!! He won’t even eat the Quaker ones anymore! And my daughter loves the peanut butter/chocolate chip ones!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      We were pleasantly surprised at how good they were! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Shannon

    I would like to see a side by side comparison of ingredients and what country the ingredients come from. You should never eat food from china.

    • Josie

      Very true. Many times some countries don’t have the same food (and other product) production standards.

    • Winnie

      May I ask why?

      • Shannon

        China doesn’t have the same regulations that we do. Pollution is high and the soil is not clean. Google it for more info. I found out about it when I bought garlic from Aldi and it said product of china.

        • Ana

          Yeah but for it to be sold in most major grocery stores the food has to be US inspected anyway.

    • Jodi P

      Watch the apples you buy, as well as apple sauce and apple juice, etc. Most of that is made in china. Apples you buy in winter are often from china, and/or have been stored under gas for several months.

    • Another Michelle

      Substance and ingredients are infinitely more important than looks and taste. I wouldn’t feed my enemy most of this stuff.

    • MommySpendsLess

      I would also like to see more of the ingredients and nutrition information compared if you do a similar post. It was still a useful test as I’ve never considered buying any of the food from Dollar Tree before and now maybe I’d at least go down that aisle. I’d like to see a healthy eating post from the Dollar Tree – can you find whole grains and minimally processed/few artificial ingredients items there?

  12. Heidi N

    This is a fantastic post!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Heidi! ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Josie

    Ingredients. Where things are made and how they are made. Taste, while important, isn’t always most important thing. The quality of the ingredients is what is most important to so many, such as myself. I’m just willing to pay more if the quality of the food that I feed my children is on the higher end, rather than on the lower end. I just believe that it makes a big difference to their health and well-being. Some of these items that are sold at the Dollar Tree have inferior ingredients, and are produced in countries where they don’t have the same kind of oversight. I’m not telling anybody what to do, but just hope that all things might be considered.

    • Lana

      That is the number one reason I shop at Aldi. I know that I do not have to read the label for a whole list of ingredients that they have eliminated from everything they sell.

    • Tina

      I agree…I’d rather pay more for our food to ensure what we’re putting into our bodies is quality.

    • Shannon

      Exactly my thoughts, of course the price is important but imo the ingredient quality is much more important especially when you consider the cost of health care.

    • Amy

      I agree with this, as I always check and never buy anything that we or our pets consume made in China. However, you can check all of that info on your own with simply picking up the package. This is giving info you couldn’t get without buying it. Valuable imho!

    • Another Michelle

      Yes, this is actually a horrific comparison. We should be encouraging and enabling people to eat well – not garbage.

    • ET

      Yes, I would really like to see a comparison of the ingredient list, and also where it was made.

  14. Amanda

    I love this post. I am a weekly dollar tree shopping and have boys who like all of the foods tested so I will pick some of the items up that won the DT test. Fun post!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Glad you liked it Amanda! Hope you like the Dollar Tree winners too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Laura

    I’ll have to try the fudge strip and Keebler crackers with my very picky 19 year old!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Hope she likes them Laura!

  16. Lana

    My sister buys generic brands and repackages into the name brand box for her picky son. It works every time.

    • TJ

      That is awesome!!^^

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      OH my goodness – SOOO clever! LOL! Isn’t it interesting how packaging often affects our thinking?

    • Linda

      I always did the switcharoo on my husband …. After the Folgers canister was empty, I would fill it up with generic coffee … I did that for many years, and he never noticed! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • K

        Me too! Hubby refuses to eat anything but Kraft Parmesan cheese. I just buy generic and empty it into the Kraft container. He’s never mentioned a difference in taste. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Melanie

      Lmao!!!

  17. Nicole

    Great info! Thanks! I love dollar tree but never seem to consider their food options. I’ll definitely check out the food aisle now.

  18. Amy

    I honestly think this is my favorite of any post from you guys ever! Awesome

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Aww thanks Amy! Glad you enjoyed it! We sure had a fun time! I think next time I will blind-fold the boys so they don’t know which is which LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. TJ

    Thank you, Mary! Love this post.

    I totally agree about the soft pretzels. We have a discount grocery store here that sells the Bakers Best soft pretzels so we got them to sell in the concession stand at our kids’ high school. We never should’ve cheaped out! It was embarrassing because they got super hard in the pretzel warmer, and they were jist kind of blah. The next game we went back to Super Pretzels!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Ya those SuperPretzels are just amazing. The Dollar Tree variety is edible but just not the same. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Dara

    Mary, I enjoyed this post. And your boys are adorable. Please than them for their “research” for me!

    I am crazy about Dollar Tree’s spring rolls. Ten in a package for a buck, and I think they’re delicious!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks for the kind words Dara! OH I will have to try those Spring Rolls next time! And I sure will thank them for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • peepslob

      Yes, I agree with you. The Vegetable Spring Rolls are good.

  21. Mary

    Homemade Mac n cheese is the way to go, I know you pay a little more to buy all the ingredients, but it’s worth it. I shop at Aldi to and I love it, but some produce and fruits go bad quickly.

    • pokz

      Thats why theyre cheap

    • Lana

      Try another store. One of the stores in our area has terrible produce but the others have better produce than the regular grocery stores.

  22. Sam

    Loved this! I almost always buy generic bc it’s cheaper and has similar tastes. I agree on doing an Aldi test. I go there for almost everything and my kids love the snack and breakfast foods!!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Sam! I SO wish we had an Aldi here!

      • faith

        If you’re ever up by Waco there are several there!

  23. Holly

    Their granola and Nutrigrain bars often have high fructose corn syrup whereas kelloggs and Quaker don’t, depending on variety.

  24. Nikunj

    What about the quality of the ingredients?

  25. Marie

    I believe that Aldi is owned by Trader Joe so if you are wondering adout the manufacturer they may be the same as Trader Joe? Our family is always willing to pay a bit more for American made foods and products. American made items may cost a little more at times (it all the time) but when you buy American people in the U S get to keep their jobs and also environmentally better because locally grown and produced products don’t have to be shipped from overseas. Just a preference ๐Ÿ˜Š

  26. Marie

    That was American made products don’t always cost more.

  27. susan

    Have you ever tried the steak at the Dollar Tree? I was there about a month ago and that was their freezer item of the week. I just could not do it. In general I do not buy brands I do not know from the Dollar Tree after buying these shark crackers which had a weird taste and made my little one sick. I think they were from Asia, but that was years ago and I think their food quality has probably gotten better. I like to find food for brands that had almost expired. This week I bought Betty Crocker Hello Kitty Cookies and Lunchable cookies, marshmallow cream and sprinkles dip (that was expiring the same day). I thought about negotiating with them on it but not sure they would.

    I love Aldi though. I really like that none of their products have artificial colors and all of their seafood is sustainable. They are a really progressive grocery store.

    • PDX To OGG Mama

      I’ve always wondered about their steak. I haven’t tried it and I am skeptical about cheap steak cuts in general after seeing & reading some news about “Franken-meat.” It’s where they use an edible “glue” on leftover cuts and then cut into new steaks…they even make it look like fat marbling too. Maybe dollar tree steak is good, but I’d rather hear reviews about it before I try it.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Yikes about franken-meat! That’s funny you mentioned the steak…I didn’t see any ribeye steak at my store or I would have snagged it and given it a try. They did have frozen pork chops and I was a little hesitant to try it out BUT I may just have to next time ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Melissa

    Great post! Love that you included the boys in the research!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Melissa! They loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Cyndi Thomas

    Glad for the info. I have tried a lot of Dollar Tree food items, and it’s just a matter of trying them. Some are the same, some better,and some I don’t think so!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      I totally agree – just have to be bold and try them. Also comparing sizes to make sure you are getting a good deal

  30. Krystal

    I go to 99 cents store and buy name brand items for $1(most of them). That’s where I buy breads(sara lee, hostess, orowheat, bimbo, wonder, nature’s harvest etc) for my dogs and oscar mayer stuff for their breads since they won’t eat them without filling. 99 cents store saves me a lot of money.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Wow – That’s awesome Krystal!

  31. sharon

    Great Post!! Always good to save money without sacrificing taste.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Sharon! ๐Ÿ˜€

  32. krista

    We get our lemon juice from the dollar tree.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Oh nice! I’ll have to look for that next time I’m there

  33. Angela J

    Thank you for the whole project!! I have especially wondered about the granola bars and cookies but haven’t tried them yet. Now I will!

  34. Sally

    This was great…thank you so much. I hope to see more of these! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Rebecca

    I went to Aldi to check out their organic items and you really have to check the labels on those too if you prefer to eat usa food. Their organic frozen strawberries are from china and i saw many items that said product of canada. I am hesitant to purchase those too because I read about food being imported to Canada and made/packaged their in order to have the label say Canada instead of china etc. I wont buy food from china no matter how cheap it is.

    • ne

      Ahh thanks for that heads up! I have a bag of their organic strawberries in my freezer right now. Never thought to check where it was from. ๐Ÿ˜ž

  36. Sharon

    Mary- this was a great post! Love these comparison tests- thank you!

  37. Princess

    I get the Dollar Tree version of Reddi whip to use for our pie in the face games. My daughter recently had a sleepover and they used the dual pie in the face game, and I was able to get 4 cans for $1.00 each. That’s what I normally pay for 1 can of Reddi whip.

  38. murph

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing this, hope to see more in the future!

  39. Nina

    I’m an ingredient reader so if the ingredients are easy to read and pronounce and clean, for me it tastes better n it doesn’t matter if its from Dollar Tree. At end of day I think it’s important we know what goes in our food.

    • Jean

      Exactly how I feel. Price isn’t the issue for me, ingredients are.

  40. Tina

    I just read a study about the food sold in these stores. I wouldn’t feed it to my dog, certainly not my children. There is a reason it is so cheap. Please look it up before you eat any more of it.

  41. Daphne

    I’ve been thinking of introducing some economics to my fifth graders, and I think that this would be a wonderful ice breaker at the beginning of the year!

  42. Anna

    Thank you for this post and thank you to the adorable boys for the hard work.

    While, I would never feed any of this (packaged, processed, full of sugar and refined ingredients) foods to my 2 young kids on regular basis, I do like the idea of getting maybe jam or other items for my occasional baking from there instead of Publix to save some money. I never really thought about that until reading this post, so thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Jean

    I’m more concerned about the ingredient label than taste. Cheaper is not always better.

  44. wdw

    The only thing I have noticed is that the Dollar purchase may be a little smaller Oz wise or have a couple less items than the regular brand.

  45. Pat

    I love Aldi brands but then again I grew up with them in Germany (well most of them) so I have experience.

  46. Is It Healthy Enough For You?

    Hey- has anyone mentioned checking the ingredient listing and making sure it’s not bad for you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  47. Joy

    Unfortunately, you have to watch some brand names for the made in China label no matter where you go, including the regular grocery stores. For example, Del Monte and Dole canned fruits are made in China and I refuse to buy them. Same with certain toothpastes.

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