Best dollar store buys for outfitting a dorm room

While in the dollar store recently, I witnessed a scene that must be happening in dollar stores all over North America. A Mom was helping her college-bound son pick out kitchen ware, bath ware and cleaning essentials for his first foray into life away from home. Been there, done that -- twice. But in case you haven't yet, here are my picks for the great and not-so-great deals to help you save money as you nudge your fledgling out of the nest.

1. Dishes. Check your favorite department store for inexpensive boxed sets. I saw a 16-piece set for $16.87 at Wal-Mart. At the dollar store, each piece is $1, so the boxed set is almost as cheap and certainly a lot easier to transport to a first apartment or dorm room. On the other hand, if you don't want or need four place settings and don't care if everything matches exactly, buying each piece individually could be the way to go.

2. Silverware. I saw an off brand set of 20-pieces of silverware that comes with its own storage tray. That's two items off the list for $6.97. At the dollar store, each piece costs $1 so buying the set is definitely the way to go. Even if you only need two forks, two knives and two spoons, you'll still be spending $6 at the dollar store.