Rebecca Chobat knows how to stretch a dollar. Her TikTok account and YouTube channel are dedicated to teaching people how to make affordable and healthy food. She makes meals with groceries she bought only at Dollar Tree. Her recipes involve ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks — all devised with a tight budget in mind.
“There are plenty of people in the world who don’t have access to regular grocery stores or even fresh food. They may only have a Dollar Tree near them,” Chobat explains in one of her videos. “My videos are here to show people that they can make the best use out of ingredients that are available to them.” 
Cooking With Only Dollar Tree Ingredients
Not only does Chobat give advice on how to grocery shop on a tight budget, she also prepares recipes for those who have very little time to cook. The only things she skips buying in her grocery haul videos, are salt, pepper, and oil — ingredients that people don’t usually have to restock every week. And she does all of her shopping at Dollar Tree (even though she is not sponsored by them).
“I get a lot of comments about things being cheaper at other stores. And they often are,” she explains. “The misconception is that people shop at Dollar Tree because it’s the cheapest option. That’s not the reason most people shop at Dollar Tree. My focus is on who is doing their shopping there…”
Chobat makes her videos to specifically help people with limited access to grocery stores, whether because they live in a food desert, or they can’t travel far due to transportation issues, age, or disabilities. She also uses her creativity to make different meals from cheap ingredients. In her videos, she creates different challenges to help people in different situations.
For instance, one series involved traditional dinners to feed four people under $10. Another was about a $35 budget for a week’s worth of groceries and she showed what she ate every day. Her grocery list involved penne pasta, garlic bread, beef patties, black beans, pancake mix, frozen vegetables, tortillas, cheese, and canned tomatoes. And on Day 1, she ate sausage and gravy biscuits for breakfast, garlic bread pizza for lunch, and smoked sausage Alfredo pasta for dinner. 
Affordable and Healthy Food
She also makes videos about budget-friendly meals for occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even Super Bowl parties. Other videos involve affordable ideas for meal prep and snacks, as well as healthy food for people with high blood pressure, vegetarians, and people with dairy and gluten allergies. For the latter, she advises people to use a more “old fashioned style of eating” since it’s unlikely people would find specialized items like gluten-free bread or vegan cheese in Dollar Tree. “…You have to think in terms of how people with restrictions ate 10, 20 years ago. I know rice and beans aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, but they are vegan. You may not be able to find vegan butter, but you can find coconut oil and olive oil.”
However, most of her recipes are not diet-conscious. “I don’t put a lot of emphasis on nutritional content in my videos because it’s more about just getting people fed,” Chobat explains. “I try to be mindful about including a vegetable in every meal, but what a lot of people forget is that ‘things are vegetables that aren’t vegetables.’ By that I mean, salsa is a vegetable: tomatoes, onions, peppers. If I use a can of Ro-Tel, that’s a vegetable. Just because you don’t put broccoli or spinach in a dish doesn’t mean it’s not nutritious.”
She added that she makes her content for people who need affordable food over healthy food. “We’ve become very elitist about food. I get a ton of comments, especially about my Dollar Tree Haul videos about the nutritional content — about processed food. Well, there’s a lot of people who have no control over the food they get. If you have to get food from a food pantry, it’s not like you can say, ‘I want organic…’ My videos are geared for those people.”
Key Ingredients and Recipes
When it comes to key ingredients to keep stocked, Chobat recommends items like pasta, tomato sauce, ramen noodles, pre-cooked rice, cooked meats, and the like. “Anything you can throw together in a few minutes is helpful. Sometimes you get to the point where you’re so hungry you can’t focus or spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I would keep a lot of those three-minute meals on hand for those times.”
One of her most popular recipes is the $5 Lazy Lasagna to feed four people. The ingredients included two bags of cheese ravioli, a can of pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese — all from Dollar Tree, of course. In a small pan (to have more layers) she layered the ravioli with the tomato sauce. While the ravioli baked at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, she grated the cheese. When the ravioli was done, she topped it with cheese and broiled the dish until the cheese melted and started bubbling.
Keep Reading: Water Lentils: These Tiny Specks Are The New Superfood
- “This Popular TikTok Account Creates Budget-Friendly Meals Using Only Dollar Tree Ingredients.” All Recipes. Rochelle Bilow. January 13, 2023
- “TikToker shows people how to live off Dollar Tree groceries that cost $35 a week as Americans flock to dollar stores for cheaper food.” Business Insider. May Hanbury. March 9, 2023