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Never Buy This One Item at Dollar Tree, Employees Warn

Workers at the store say you're better off getting the product elsewhere.

Dollar Tree provides shoppers with a range of products as wide as they are affordable, thanks to the bold business strategy of charging just $1 for every item on the shelf. And with everything from everyday household essentials to basic groceries available, it can be hard to pass up any buys that look like a bargain while strolling the aisles. But according to those who work at the store, you may want to keep one product out of your cart. Read on to see which item Dollar Tree employees say you should never buy from the store.

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Employees warn you should never buy frozen fish or ribeye steaks at the Dollar Tree.

Dollar Tree Store Worst-Rated Stores

It can be hard to pass up products that are typically out of your budget when you see them in Dollar Tree. But according to employees of the company, you might want to skip certain items from the store's frozen food aisle next time you go shopping.

"I don't eat any of the frozen fish or ribeyes because I don't trust frozen seafood or meat that costs a dollar," Brenda, the store manager of a Dollar Tree location in the Midwest, tells Mental Floss.

Other employees share concerns over the quality of the product. "I would never buy the steak," Nate, a Dollar Tree manager in Minnesota, says. "I've heard from more than one person that it doesn't cook [well] and it feels like rubber."

Taste tests of the $1 steaks produced less than stellar reviews of the product.

Woman Eating Steak, relationship white lies

But how bad could bargain beef really be? To put the product to the test, local Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO organized a taste test in 2016 with local firefighters pitting the $1 steak against ribeyes that cost $9 and $12 a pound purchased at other local supermarkets.

All the firefighters agreed that the supermarket steaks tasted better, describing the Dollar Tree beef as "chewy," "very rubbery," and "OK." In what could be considered the most glowing reviews, one said the $1 steak was "not terrible," while another concluded: "I guess it was meat."

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Higher-quality beef at the supermarket may still be a better bargain than Dollar Tree's ribeyes.

Close up of woman holding wrapped meat in grocery store

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the problem with Dollar Tree's steaks likely has to do with its quality. According to Len Bleh, co-owner of Avril-Bleh Meat Market in Cincinnati, the $1 beef is what's known as a "utility" cut that's usually used in institutional kitchens, well below the Choice and Prime quality steaks sold in supermarkets and by butchers. "A lot of times what you are dealing with, with utility tenders, might be bulls, or a lower grade of beef," he told WCPO.

And ultimately, you may not even be getting that great of a bargain on beef at Dollar Tree. Since the 3.8-ounce cuts cost $1, their per pound price is $4.20, putting them in the same range as supermarket steak when it's on sale, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"People need to be aware and be price-savvy," Nan Jensen, a nutritionist with the Pinellas County Extension Office, told the newspaper in a 2013 interview. "The unit price [at a dollar store] may be more than at Walmart."

There are still some items worth buying at Dollar Tree—including some "amazing" food.

Dollar tree store in Buffalo, New York, USA

However, just because the frozen beef leaves plenty to be desired doesn't mean there aren't plenty of great buys to be found at the popular bargain chain. "The items that my employees and I purchase at Dollar Tree for value would definitely be toilet paper, paper towels, birthday cards, candy, balloons, plastic ware, paper plates, envelopes, [stationery] products, and the daily newspaper," Brenda tells Mental Floss.

And it's not just limited to non-edible items. "I've had the little pie slices, the sausage and pancake bites, and the Cinnabon bites are amazing," Brenda says. "The frozen dinners are good as well. People also love the frozen vegetables and fruit."

RELATED: Shoppers Are Threatening to Boycott Dollar Tree—Here's Why.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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