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When grocery prices began to skyrocket in 2022, Rebecca Chobat worried about how low-income families would be able to afford to put meals on the table. Last June, the Chesapeake, Virginia resident decided to try to help others put together low-budget meals that would feed numerous people on a tight budget. So, she created a TikTok account called Dollar Tree Dinners and started sharing shopping tips and recipes.
“It wasn’t really about me or my household. I was thinking about the types of people who have to use Dollar Tree as a resource for their groceries — people with limited transportation, college students, and people who live in food deserts in the U.S.,” Chobat told Business Insider.
In her first video, she shared a copycat recipe of Taco Bell’s loaded potato grilled burrito.
@dollartreedinners Dollar Tree Dinner Idea! Taco Bell Inspired Loaded Potato Grilled Burrito #dollartree #dollartreedinner #dollartreecooking #eatingonabudget #cheapdinnerideas â¬ original sound – Dollar Tree Dinners
For Mardi Gras, she put together a Dollar Tree Gumbo using frozen veggies, canned chicken and an assortment of spices:
@dollartreedinners Dollar Tree Gumbo! #dollartreedinners #gumbo #mardigras #cajuncooking #dinneronabudget #feedinglargefamilies #cajunfood #gumborecipe #dollartreefood #freezermeals â¬ original sound – Dollar Tree Dinners
It didn’t take long for her videos to go viral as people shared her budget-friendly and tasty recipes. Even though Dollar Tree’s lowest prices are $1.25 and can go up to $5, Chobat still uses the retailer as her primary store for her grocery videos because of the store’s wide accessibility.
In its recent fourth-quarter earnings call, Dollar Tree said it intends to continue “aggressively expanding our $3, $4, $5 frozen and refrigerated product across the Dollar Tree store base going from zero to 3,500 stores in 2022. This consists of three cooler doors, one at each price point with an attractive selection of proteins, pizza, ice cream, and more, which the customers are responding positively to.”
Chobat’s Dollar Tree Dinners TikTok channel has not gone without its detractors. In a September 2022 video titled “This is why I make Dollar Tree cooking videos,” the TikTok star shared how commenters on her channel criticized her for only knowing how to “add water and stir” in her recipes, as well as talk about the quality of her ingredients and that most of her meals are not made “from scratch.”
“My videos are here to help show people that they can make the best use out of the ingredients that are available to them,” she explained.
@dollartreedinners This is why I make Dollar Tree cooking videos #dollartreedinners #fooddesert #foodpantry #foodbank â¬ original sound – Dollar Tree Dinners
What do you think of the Dollar Tree Dinners concept?