On a budget? In an area without a major grocery store nearby? This Dollar Tree meal plan will help stretch every dollar, using only foods available at the Dollar Tree. With a little creativity and planning, you can feed a nutrient-rich diet to a family of three on just $88 for the week (which accounts for the new $1.25 prices).
As a note – I personally believe you can find better deals and create a more balanced menu by shopping somewhere like ALDI. Because there’s no fresh produce or meat at most Dollar Trees, it can be challenging to follow this type of meal plan long term. And some items at Dollar Tree are priced worse than their grocery store equivalents when you break it down on a per ounce basis. If you have other stores available, you can likely shop the sales and find cheap foods there, and create filling meals that offer a bit more variety in taste and texture.
But of course, not everyone may have this luxury. Sometimes, the Dollar Tree may be the best option, or even the only option. As such, I hope you find this Dollar Tree menu, grocery list, and recipes helpful!
Disclaimer: I am a Registered Dietitian, but the information below should not be construed as dietary advice. Consult a dietitian for any nutrition concerns.
Weekly Meal Plan Overview
Here is the quick meal outline for the week, with some important notes below. You’ll find the full meal plan recipes scrolling further down in the post (with a PDF download at the bottom of the post).
- Scrambled eggs and strawberry mango smoothies
- Oatmeal and nuts
- Egg casserole and fruit
- Protein pancakes with blueberries
- Leftovers from dinners
- PB&J sandwiches with fruit, popcorn, and either baked beans or lentil crisps
- Jamaican style beef patties and okra
- Pasta with meatballs, side of broccoli
- Rice and beans
- Ramen and veggie stir fry
- Corn chowder
- Snack plate – tuna, crackers, fruit, veggie, nuts
- This meal plan totals approximately $88.75 for the week for a family of 3, assuming 71 items purchased at $1.25 each. Obviously, if you are only shopping for yourself, or you and your spouse, it would be considerably cheaper than a family of 3. (If you have more people in your family, it would be more expensive.)
- This may sound pricey for a Dollar Tree Meal Plan. I’ve seen extreme frugal examples around $25-50 a week for a family. Those plans often include dishes like “PB&J” or “pasta” as a full meal, multiple times per week. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, particularly when you’re in a financial pinch. And you can certainly modify the plan here to be far more frugal. However, I wanted to showcase a meal plan that provided nutrient dense foods, with hearty dishes you might not expect would come from the Dollar Tree.
- The USDA Thrifty Food Plan is the amount that the USDA estimates a family would have to spend on food to meet the dietary guidelines. At the time of publish, the last plan shown was the May 2022 plan, which estimated that a 20-50 year old male would spend $66.50 per week, a 20-50 year old female would spend $53.40 per week, and a 6-8 year old child clocks in at $44.20 per week (this is the breakdown in my family). As such, they assume you’ll need to spend approximately $164 for a family of 3 for the week to meet dietary needs.
- We came in around half that number (whoop whoop) – but keep in mind that this meal plan is not perfect. It does not include the exact number of fruits and veggies that are theoretically recommended daily, and it may fall short in calories for some adults. Most people will need snacks (like crackers with peanut butter) each day to add enough calories to the day (which are suggested in the plan).
- That said, I have done my best to keep it as cheap as possible while still incorporating as many fruits and vegetables as possible, as well as many protein sources. The variety of foods helps support nutrient needs.
- As a quick note, many of the meals are higher in sodium, which could be a concern for those with blood pressure issues. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a trade off with using many canned products. However, this meal plan does try to provide a range of foods with potassium to balance this out.
You’ll find a printable version of this grocery list and the recipes in the download below. But here is a quick list of everything that you’ll need to purchase at Dollar Tree for the week.
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
- 2 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 can regular corn (15.25 oz)
- 1 can creamed corn (14.75 oz)
- 1 can potatoes (15 oz)
- 1 can green beans
- 1 large can Hunt’s pasta sauce (24 oz)
- 2 cans pineapple
- 2 cans mandarin oranges
- Beef broth
- Chicken broth
- Badia complete seasoning
- 1 large box of pasta (20 oz)
- 5-count package of ramen (any flavor)
- Soy sauce
- Tortilla strips
- 4 cans chicken (5 oz ea)
- 2 cans tuna (5 oz ea)
- Dry kidney beans
- 1 can baked beans
- 2 cartons whole milk
- Maple brown sugar oatmeal (6 ct box)
- Protein pancake mix
- 1 loaf of bread
- 1 jar of peanut butter
- 1 bottle of jelly
- 2 packs Imperial Nuts Energy Blend
- Jar of peanuts
- Golden round crackers
- 1 bag stovetop popcorn kernels
- 2 bags Harvest lentil crisps
- 1 bag frozen strawberries (10 oz)
- 1 bag frozen mango (10 oz)
- Frozen breakfast sausage roll (7 oz)
- 2 bags of frozen meatballs
- 3 bags frozen broccoli (12 oz ea)
- 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice (10 oz)
- 1 bag frozen hash brown potatoes (20 oz) (ideally thawed, but you can make this with frozen ones)
- 2 bags of frozen blueberries (10 oz ea)
- 1 bag frozen TJ Farms Santa Fe Blend vegetables (beans, corn, peppers, onions)
- 1 bag TJ Farms frozen mixed stir fry vegetables (12 oz)
- 1 bag TJ Farms frozen pepper and onion stir fry vegetables (12 oz)
- 2 bags TJ Farms frozen okra (12 oz ea)
- 6 frozen Jamaican beef patties
- 4 packages of eggs (6 count ea)
- 4 oz block of pepperjack cheese
Pantry Staples Already on Hand:
For the purposes of this plan, I tried to use as little as possible from my own pantry, as all those items of course have to be purchased at some point. However, there were some staples that I did use, mainly for cooking and seasoning.
Here is what I already had on hand that I used, but all of these items can also be purchased from the Dollar Tree if you don’t have them on hand. Some can be skipped over as needed (for example, you can skip the brown sugar in the stir fry, or skip garlic powder in the chili).
- Oil (olive, canola, etc)
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Brown sugar
Dollar Tree Breakfast Recipes
Days 1 & 2 – Scrambled eggs and strawberry mango smoothie
*Makes 3 servings
7 medium eggs
¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp oil or cooking spray
- Whisk together the eggs and the milk.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Grease the pan with a little oil or cooking spray. Add the egg mixture to the pan. Stir frequently until the eggs and cooked through. Divide eggs into 3 servings.
Strawberry Mango Smoothies
*Makes 3 servings
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen mango
½ cup ice
- Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth (smoothie will be thick, feel free to add a little more milk if you want a thinner version). Divide into three glasses and enjoy.
Nutrition analysis (total for both eggs and smoothie): 315 calories, 17.5 g fat, 6.5 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 18.5 g sugar, 18 g protein, Vitamin D: 20%, Calcium: 18%, Iron: 11%, Potassium: 11%
Days 3 & 4 – Oatmeal and nuts
Prepare the maple brown sugar instant oatmeal according to package directions. Enjoy with a package of Imperial Nuts Energy Blend on the side that has been divided into three servings.
*Money-saving note: If my Dollar Tree had the large container of plain oats, I would have chosen those over the instant oat packages, as it’s more cost-effective and can be flavored at home. However, the store did not have any of those when I went.
Nutrition analysis (approximate for the oatmeal and the nuts): 275 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 375 mg sodium, 41 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 7 g protein, Vitamin D: 0%, Calcium: 1%, Iron: 9%, Potassium: 4%
Days 5 & 6 – Egg casserole, side of fruit
*Makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
7 oz frozen breakfast sausage roll, cut into bite sized pieces (you can slice from frozen then cut each slice in a few pieces)
12 oz bag frozen broccoli
10 oz bag frozen cauliflower rice
½ cup whole milk
20 oz bag frozen hash brown potatoes (ideally thawed, but you can make this with frozen ones)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breakfast sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Break up the frozen broccoli and cauliflower rice (by pressing the bag or slamming it on the ground). Add to the skillet with the sausage. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and whole milk.
- Add the cooked vegetables and sausage to the bowl the egg mixture, along with the hashbrowns. Stir well, then pour into the 9×13 baking dish.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the mixture is fully set.
Enjoy the egg casserole alongside ½ cup thawed blueberries or canned pineapple/mandarin oranges.
Nutrition analysis (approximate for 1 serving of egg casserole along with the side of fruit): 322 calories, 15 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 310 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 16 g protein, Vitamin D: 9%, Calcium: 7%, Iron: 13%, Potassium: 16%
Day 7 – Protein pancakes with blueberries
Prepare the entire box of protein pancake mixture according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat the frozen blueberries in a microwave safe dish until they’re warm and juicy. Split the pancakes into 3 servings and top with the blueberries.
Nutrition analysis (approximate for per serving): 342 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 800 mg sodium, 59.5 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 18.5 g sugar, 20 g protein, Vitamin D: 12%, Calcium: 6%, Iron: 14%, Potassium: 5%
Dollar Tree Dinner Recipes
Day 1 – Jamaican style beef patties and okra
*Makes 8 servings (save four for lunches)
2 12-oz bags frozen okra
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Toss the frozen okra with the oil and salt. (Feel free to add any other seasonings you like to this recipe!) Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
*Note – if time is a concern, okra can be cooked on the stovetop or in the microwave instead.
Cook the frozen beef patties according to package directions. Serve alongside the okra. (Save the remaining frozen beef patties and cooked okra for lunches).
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving of both the beef patty and okra): 396 calories, 15.5 g fat, 7.5 g saturated fat, 770 mg sodium, 55.5 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, 12.5 g protein
Prep tip for tomorrow:
While preparing the ingredients above, it’s also a good idea to prep the beans that will be used over the next few days. You can do this tomorrow, but will need to start dinner early to ensure they’re done in time to use in the chili. It’s easy if you get them cooked tonight so they’re ready to use tomorrow!
Do a “quick soak” of the bag of dried beans – add them to a pot with water, bring to a boil, then cover, turn off heat, and let sit for an hour. After the sit, drain the water and add new water to the pot, along with ½ teaspoon of salt. Simmer the beans until they’re tender (about 45-60 minutes, typically).
Set aside 3 cups of beans for the chili and 2 ½ cups for the rice and beans. You’ll have 1-2 cups leftover. You can either:
- Freeze the leftover beans to use in another recipe in future weeks.
- Make a quick bean salad by tossing the beans with some oil, vinegar, and seasonings. Enjoy this as a side with lunches.
Day 2 – Chili
See prep tip above! If you haven’t prepared the dried beans yet, you’ll need to start that a bit earlier than dinner time to ensure they’re done in time.
*Makes 4 servings (save one for lunch) – this is one of my favorites because it’s so filling!
1 tbsp oil
1 bag frozen TJ Farms Santa Fe Blend vegetables (beans, corn, peppers, onions)
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp pepper
14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
3 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup tortilla strips
- In a medium to large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bag of frozen vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and warm throughout.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and cooked kidney beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Enjoy topped with tortilla strips (or as-is).
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving): 428 calories, 9 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 1250 mg sodium, 66.5 g carbohydrate, 20 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, 21 g protein, Vitamin D: 0%, Calcium: 4%, Iron: 27%, Potassium: 25%
Day 3 – Pasta with meatballs, side of broccoli
Pasta with Meatballs
*Makes 5 servings (save two for lunch)
12 oz box of pasta (about 2/3 of the 20 ounce box)
2 bags of frozen meatballs
2 bags frozen broccoli
24-oz can Hunt’s pasta sauce (*note – you’ll see two in the photo above but I actually only used one!)
- Cook 12 ounces of pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat up the meatballs and broccoli in the microwave according to package directions.
- When pasta is done, toss it with the meatballs and pasta sauce, and serve with broccoli on the side.
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving): 476 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 960 mg sodium, 70.5 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fiber, 12.5 g sugar, 20.5 g protein, Vitamin D: 0%, Calcium: 9%, Iron: 29%, Potassium: 15%
Day 4 – Rice and beans
Easy Rice and Beans
*Makes 5 servings (save two for lunches)
1 ½ cups uncooked white rice
1 tbsp oil
2 ½ cups cooked kidney beans
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
2 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
4 oz pepperjack cheese, shredded or cubed
- Prepare the rice according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cooked kidney beans. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Toss everything together, stirring frequently, until combined and hot. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice, beans, and Rotel tomatoes with green chiles. Divide into four servings and top with the pepperjack cheese. Enjoy.
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving): 450 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 610 mg sodium, 70 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 17.5 g protein, Vitamin D: 1%, Calcium: 14%, Iron: 32%, Potassium: 14%
Day 5 – Ramen and veggie stir fry
Ramen Veggie Stir Fry
*Makes 4 servings (save one for lunch)
2 packages of beef ramen, seasoning packets discarded (you’ll only use the noodles)
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz bag TJ Farms frozen stir fry vegetables
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar (optional, helps enhance overall flavor but fine to skip)
2 cans chicken, drained
½ cup peanuts
- Heat a pot of water. When boiling, drop in the two ramen bricks. Cook for about 3 minutes, then drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the frozen stir fry vegetables. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the vegetables are heated through. (If needed, remove the carrots and chop them into smaller pieces at this point – sometimes they’re huge).
- Add the noodles, soy sauce, brown sugar, and chicken to the pan. Cook for another 3 minutes, tossing everything together until well combined.
- Top with peanuts and enjoy.
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving): 415 calories, 21 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat, sodium unknown (it is difficult to find nutrition data on ramen noodles alone without the seasoning packets), 35 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 21.5 g protein, Vitamin D: 0%, Calcium: 3%, Iron: 14%, Potassium: 7%
Day 6 – Corn Chowder
Delicious Corn Chowder
*Makes 4 servings (save one for lunch)
2 tbsp olive oil
12 oz bag TJ Farms frozen pepper and onion stir fry vegetables
1 tsp Badia complete seasoning
3 tbsp flour
15.25-oz can regular corn, drained
14.75-oz can creamed corn
15 oz can potatoes, drained (and chopped, if originally whole potatoes)
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
2 5-oz cans of chicken, drained
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bag of pepper stir fry vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the seasoning and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the flour and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the corn, creamed corn, potatoes, chicken broth, milk, and chicken. Bring heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Nutrition analysis: 403 calories, 13.5 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1190 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 22 g protein, Vitamin D: 8%, Calcium: 13%, Iron: 14%, Potassium: 14%
Day 7 – Snack Plates
Snack plates are easy to make and great for a quick dinner! You can use tuna and crackers as the base (for some carbs and protein) and then build on that by adding a fruit, veggie, and additional item of your choice.
Start by making the tuna salad:
*Makes 4 servings
2 cans tuna, drained
3 tbsp mayonnaise
- Mix together the tuna and mayonnaise.
Make four snack plates – three for the family tonight, and one for a lunch option. When we made these, each snack plate contained:
- ¼ of the tuna mixture
- 10 crackers
- ¼ cup peanuts
- ½ cup canned pineapple
- ½ cup canned or frozen green beans (cooked according to package directions)
Nutrition analysis (approximate per serving): 517 calories, 33.5 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 700 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 23.5 g protein, Vitamin D: 3%, Calcium: 9%, Iron: 23%, Potassium: 11%
Dollar Tree Lunches
Most lunches for me and my husband were leftovers from the days before, though occasionally we had a PB&J meal. Most lunches for my son were a PB&J meal, though occasionally he had leftovers. Here’s a list of all the lunches, which total 21 (one for each of us everyday):
- PB&J meal x 9
- Leftover chili
- Leftover pasta x 2
- Leftover rice & beans x 2
- Leftover stir fry
- Leftover corn chowder
- Leftover egg casserole x 2
- Beef patty & leftover okra x 3
The “PB&J” meal typically included the sandwich, ½ cup of fruit (canned pineapple, mandarin oranges, or thawed blueberries), 2 cups of stovetop popped popcorn, and either ½ cup of canned baked beans or ½ bag of Harvest lentil crisps. You could certainly customize the sides based on what you enjoy!
Dollar Tree Snacks
To round out the meals and ensure enough calories each day, we enjoyed the following snacks, which we tried to choose based on what could get use in other meals as well:
- Canned fruit or thawed frozen fruit
- Golden round crackers (plain or with peanut butter)
- Harvest lentil crisps
- Stovetop popcorn (popped on the stove with oil, then tossed with salt)
Leftovers going into next week
Using the meal plan above, there will be a few items leftover that you can use in a future week. This includes:
- 1-2 cups cooked kidney beans (can be frozen to use later)
- One serving of tuna salad (can be eaten on bread for lunch the next day)
- 1 cup of tortilla strips
- 3 individual packages of ramen
- About ⅓ of the box of pasta
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups of beef broth
- Some of the bottle of jelly
- Some of the bag of rice
- Most of the second carton of milk
- Most of the soy sauce
- Most of the Badia all purpose seasoning
Want a PDF version?
The Bottom Line
Creating a balanced meal plan at the Dollar Tree is definitely possible! While you may get a little flavor fatigue without having any fresh produce or protein, you can certainly make do with the canned, frozen, and refrigerated products if needed.
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