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Gumbo Soup on a Budget: A Dollar Tree Culinary Adventure

The inspiration for this Gumbo Soup comes from an account I follow on TikTok called Dollar Tree Dinners. The creator makes meals using ingredients only from Dollar Tree. I love the concept and she comes up with some really great-looking and great-sounding meals, usually for a very affordable price. But, the dishes she makes are high carb, to which my body doesn't respond well.

The concept got me thinking. Could I prepare meals using only Dollar Tree ingredients that fit my way of eating, and if so, would they still be budget-friendly?

Using only ingredients from Dollar Tree, so far I've made:

For background, I follow a very specific way of eating because I have a health condition that is known to cause weight gain, swelling, pain, and limited mobility. I manage my condition with diet and I wanted to provide some ideas for others, like me, who are unable or unwilling to eat high-carb foods. Many people with health conditions are disabled and on a fixed income, so I wanted to come up with some budget-friendly ideas. And, being disabled, many people do not have the ability to go to multiple stores to shop for sales or go to local farms to source high-quality grass-fed meats at a more reasonable cost than you might find in a grocery store.

Dollar Tree does have some food items that are very low-carb and have relatively clean ingredients. Food additives generally do not serve my body well, which is another reason I avoid many of the things for purchase at Dollar Tree. Most food additives increase swelling, cause weight gain, and increase my overall pain. But Dollar Tree does have some items, such as their unflavored pork rinds, that have simple ingredients. The pork rinds contain only two ingredients: pork skin and salt. But, pork rinds aren't really a meal.

As Rebecca from Dollar Tree Meals has pointed out, not everyone has a pantry stocked full of oils, seasonings, and spices, so making recipes that are truly budget-friendly and accessible means not assuming people have access to these items. And, in the interest of full transparency and honesty, saying I spent a certain amount of money on a meal, then adding all sorts of things I already had in my pantry wouldn't really be fully honest anyhow. So, as she does, for this series I'm aiming to stick to what I buy and not use things from my pantry or fridge.

And of course, it won't be appropriate for everyone who has a medical condition to treat their condition with the same diet I do and this isn't medical advice.

So, that's the history, inspiration, and reasoning for the choices I've made here.

Dollar Tree Gumbo Soup

I want to preface this by saying in no way am I going for authentic here. The idea is to come up with recipes for foods that are tasty and that resemble the original.

Cost Analysis

For this soup, I picked up all the ingredients needed from Dollar Tree. Here is everything I bought:

I only used 1/2 of the bag of frozen seasoning blend, 1/3 of the frozen okra, 1/2 can of tomato sauce, and I did not use the entire container of Creole seasoning.

So, the full cost of the meal comes out to:

Total cost of actual ingredients used was $7.82 and I got four servings out of this, so the cost works out to $1.95 per serving.


Preparing this meal didn't require a lot of effort. I first cut up the smoked sausage on the bias and browned it up in my pan to add some texture and flavor to the dish. Once browned, I removed the sausage and set it aside. Next, I diced and cooked the bacon in the same pan. Once cooked, I removed the bacon but left the rendered fat. I used the rendered fat to cook 1/2 the bag of frozen Seasoning Blend.

Once the Seasoning Blend was cooked, I added 1/2 can of Tomato sauce, which was seasoned with onion and garlic, and added the full can of chicken stock.

I mentioned in some of my previous Dollar Tree meals that I didn't love the ingredients of the box of chicken stock Dollar Tree carries. This time, I opted for a can of Swanson Chicken Broth and the ingredients are MUCH cleaner. Here are the ingredients:

I also added 1/4 tsp of the Creole seasoning and let that all simmer for about 20 mins. I then added 1/3 of the bag of frozen cut okra and the bag of frozen mussel meat and let them cook for about 5-10 mins.

Finally, I added the bacon and sausage I'd previously cooked and set aside and the can of chicken meat, which I drained. I let that all heat through and was ready to serve.


Overall, this soup tasted great! If I had it to do over again, I would have diced the smoked sausage up into smaller pieces before browning them. They have a little bit of what I would describe as a "hot-dog" texture that wasn't what you expect to find in a gumbo.

The bacon added a lot of flavor to this dish. There is plenty of salt in the ingredients used. The soup had a good amount of saltiness and I did not add any extra salt from my pantry.

Gumbo Soup

Nutritional Breakdown

I calculated the macros for this and it works out to 323 calories, 20.6g of fat, 22.5g of protein, and 13.8g of carbs. This meal was very satisfying and I felt full after eating it. It is a little low on protein and calories overall. For a quick, easy, inexpensive meal, this was very tasty and filling. That said, attempting to eat so little on a regular basis wouldn't be sustainable.