I'm not one of those people who is too proud to shop at a dollar store. In fact, I'd probably fall into the “avid fan” category. Not only are the prices impressive, but often dollar stores carry items that I can't find anywhere else. Here are the top five things on my shopping list, but don't be surprised if you walk out of the dollar stores with more than that.

Kitchen basics

When I lived in a dorm in college, the Dollar Tree was an absolute haven for my roommates and me. For just $1 each, you can find cutting boards, measuring cups, cooking utensils, plastic food storage containers, zip baggies and even ceramic plates, mugs and bowls. It's perfect for any college student or bachelor(ette) on a budget.

Cleaning products

Many of the cleansers at the Dollar Tree work just as well as some of the name-brand stuff. If you're a stickler for labels, try buying those products at Family Dollar or Dollar General. They won't be as cheap as a buck, but you'll likely spend less than you would anywhere else.

For example, Family Dollar has 100-ounce jugs of Gain laundry detergent for $10 and a three-pack of Lysol disinfectant wipes for $5 this week. Things such as dust pans, scrubbers and spray bottles are a great deal at the Dollar Tree, but you're better off finding items such as brooms and mops at Dollar General or Family Dollar.

Health care and first aid

I go through quite a lot of ibuprofen each month, so it's a must-buy at Dollar Tree for me. Forty 200 milligram pills for a buck is just unbeatable. While I'm at it, I try to stock up on first aid items such as bandages, antiseptic ointments and rubbing alcohol. Always check expiration dates.

Personal hygiene

You can find pretty decent toothbrushes and Colgate toothpaste for $1 each at the Dollar Tree, but I like to shop at Dollar General for most of my other personal items.

The name-brand makeup and facial cleansers tend to be at least $1 cheaper than at drugstores, but when labels don't matter, I love to go for Dollar General's store brand stuff. For example, I'm a huge fan of St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub, usually about $4-$5, and Dollar General's version is only $2 and works great.

Party essentials

The Dollar Tree has an entire aisle dedicated to party planning. You'll find plates, cups and napkins, centerpieces and even banners for many occasions. It's also a great place to find gift wrapping materials. And when you need greeting cards, check out the dollar stores first for the best price. Both the Dollar Tree and Dollar General had two-for-$1 deals this week.

As you've probably gathered, dollar stores are best for basic items. Also, it's easy to get overwhelmed in a store with so many good deals. Make a list of things you actually need before taking the trip.

Email Abigail Darlington at Charlestonsavvyshopper@postandcourier.com. Find more ways to save by liking our Facebook page and visiting the blog at charlestonsavvyshopper.com.