Kidney Diet Tips

Discount Grocery Shopping for Kidney Diets

I love a good bargain, getting something of value at a lower price than what I normally pay. When I hear the words bargain or discount I normally think of clothing, furniture, appliances and such, but what about groceries?

I was intrigued when I heard that many dollar stores now carry food. Can you really get quality food for $1? I wanted to see if there were real bargains to be had and what was the quality like at that low of a price. Also, I had also heard of a discount grocery store chain opening up in my area. I wanted to see what was inside and what the prices were like there as well. Plus, I like to share money-saving tips with the patients at my dialysis center.

Discount Stores Visited

I visited three different “dollar store” chains, Family Dollar, Dollar Zone and Dollar Tree, and one discount grocery supermarket chain, Aldi. I went to a few different Aldi locations to see if there were differences in availability of products. There are definitely bargains to be had at all of the stores and a few things to consider before buying. While shopping at all of these stores my main questions were:

  1. What is the price for size/quantity of the item?
  2. What is the quality?
  3. Will I really use this?

The best item to buy at all of these stores were dried spices. Spices such as onion powder, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, parsley flakes, red pepper flakes and dried basil were all very low cost compared to traditional grocery store prices, and at the same quantity or larger. Since using more herbs and spices to replace salty flavorings is recommended on a kidney diet, this is a great tip to share.

Shopping Finds

In terms of individual stores here is what I found on my shopping trips.

Dollar Zone had the fewest food items to choose from. This store did not have canned or frozen foods. They did, however, have dried spices, tea bags and plain vanilla biscuit cookie packs among the best buys.

At Family Dollar not all of the foods were $1. Prices varied for food items, and they did have frozen and refrigerated items as well as canned and boxed foods. At this store generic brand corn flakes, dried spices, chewing gum multi-packs and frozen fruit had prices lower than at a traditional grocery store.

Dollar Tree had a large selection of various foods. The best buys included frozen fruit and frozen vegetables. Several sizes included 10 ounce and 16 ounce packages. Buying the larger size was a better buy. Dried spices, multi-packs of gum, 32 ounce shelf stable soymilk, noodles, pasta and packages of English muffins and rolls were all $1 and were the same size packages as in regular grocery store items.

Another interesting visit was Aldi, which is not a dollar store but a discount grocery chain. You get a cart by putting a quarter in to unlock it. When you return it to the cart return you get your quarter back when you lock it in. I brought my own bags and packed my own groceries. There is a counter by the exit for people to pack their grocery bags from the items in the shopping cart.

These stores did have a fresh vegetable and fruit section, dairy section and frozen food sections. Best buys were dried spices and almond and soymilk in the refrigerator case. Generic brands were less expensive than in a traditional grocery store. In the fresh vegetable and fruit section, limes were a bargain. I passed over the lemons as they were way past their prime, as were the strawberries. There was a 99 cents each special on cauliflower one time when I went in, and another on pineapple, and there were purchase limits on these items. The selections included lower potassium produce options for those on a low potassium diet.

Portion Size and Use

It was tempting at all of the stores to buy one of everything with prices being low, however I kept in mind my question: Will I really use this? Also taking note of the size of the item is important. If it’s in a very small container, you’ll need several and it may wind up costing you more.

Knowing what you use frequently at home and understanding cost in relation to portion size is important when shopping at these stores. The bottom line is that you can find some good bargains on items you may use in your home at these types of stores. Smart discount shopping can make a dent in your kidney diet budget!Also,

Michele Damon, RDN

Michele Damon, RDN

Michele has been a dietitian since 2002. She enjoys vegetable gardening, cooking, trying new foods and ethnic restaurants. MIchele volunteers as a board member for her local farmers' market. She also help with cooking demos and am passionate about having people try local foods, new foods and keeping farming in her home state, New Jersey.