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7 foods, household items and other essentials you should always buy at Target

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Here's the best way to shop at Target

Last year, Target was the most popular department store in the U.S., according to one survey. It also made the 2018 Love List Brand Affinity Index, an annual ranking compiled by Goldman Sachs and Conde Nast that asks millennials and Gen-Zers to list their favorite retailers. Target held its own against luxury stores like Nordstrom, Kate Spade and Michael Kors.

That's due, in large part, to Target's popular store brands like Archer Farms, Threshold and Up&Up. "Target has dozens and dozens of store brands, many of which rate very favorably when compared to other retailers," says Joanie Demer, co-founder of the Krazy Coupon Lady.

Convenience is another major factor. A one-stop shopping experience can also mean a longer shopping trip, though: Typically, shoppers spend twice as long in big-box stores like Target as they do in regular grocery stores, Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru, tells CNBC Make It.

You can get some good deals in that extra time if you know where to look. CNBC Make It asked several experts about what's on their "must-buy" list when they're shopping at Target.

Here are seven types of products they recommend.

Archer Farms trail mix

There are many deals to be found at big-box stores like Target, Demer says, like Target's Archer Farms line of trail mixes.

The brand has developed a bit of a cult following. "They have some great combinations," Christy Palmer, founder of AllThingsTarget.com, tells CNBC Make It. Her favorite is the Peanut Butter Monster Trail Mix. A 14-ounce bag sells for $3.99 at New York area locations, according to prices listed in the Target app.

You can also find some discounts for online grocery orders when you choose in-store pickup, says Jim Markus, a deal editor with Brad's Deals. For example, though March 30th, Target is offering a 3 for $10 sale on Easter candy for online orders.

Cat & Jack children's clothing

Launched in 2016, Target's Cat & Jack brand focuses on clothing for babies and children. It's proven to be a hit with Target shoppers: Sales surpassed $2 billion last year. More recently, the brand even rolled out apparel designed specially for kids and toddlers living with disabilities.

"The clothing and accessories from Cat & Jack are cute and fun and they come with an amazing one-year guarantee," Palmer says. "If the clothing doesn't hold up, you can return it up to one year with your original receipt."

To get the best deals on children's clothes, the Krazy Coupon Lady site recommends shopping in-store on Mondays, when these items go on clearance. Once the clothing is marked down, Target will increase the discount every 10-14 days.

Dollar Spot products

If you've ever shopped at a Target store, you've probably seen the Dollar Spot, also known as Bullseye's playground, at the entrance. Here, Target sells a variety of items with prices usually ranging between $1 and $5 — everything from holiday-themed decor and back-to-school essentials to candy and snacks.

The selection rotates about every one to two months, so there is always something new, Palmer says. "I just picked up some cute throw pillow for $5 — you can't beat that!" she says.

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Home decor

Decorating a room can be expensive, so it helps when you can find quality items for less. Target is the place to go for that, Palmer says.

"Target has several home decor lines that are sure to match everyone's tastes," she says. For example, Target carries the Hearth & Hand brand, which is created in collaboration with Magnolia, a home and lifestyle brand by Chip & Joanna Gaines.

The Project 62 brand is great for those that prefer more modern decor, Palmer says, and the Opalhouse brand offers shoppers items with a more international flavor. The Threshold brand has a "casual and classic feel," she says.

Target even has a line for kids called Pillowfort.

Laundry supplies

"Some of my favorite items to buy at Target are laundry detergent and household items," Demer says.

Target regularly has laundry detergent on sale. Deals go live on Sundays, as do Target app coupons. To take full advantage, the Krazy Coupon Lady site recommends shopping early in the week and keeping your eyes peeled for the occasional 50 percent off promotions, some of which only last for a day.

Paper products

Shoppers can find great deals on household essentials like toilet paper and green cleaning products, says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot.com.

When it comes to items like paper towels and toilet paper, shoppers can almost always find a promotion for a Target a gift card, Demer says. "You'll also see coupons in the Cartwheel coupon program that lives inside the Target app," she says.

We found promotions readily available in-store for toilet paper and paper towels. An 18-mega roll package of Charmin Ultra-Soft toilet paper sells for $20.49 at New York area stores, according to Target. If you buy two packs, Target will give you a $10 gift card.

Similarly, if you buy two packages of Bounty paper towels (eight huge rolls) for $16.69 a piece, you'll receive a $5 Target gift card.

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Smartly cleaners

"These cleaners come in some amazing scents, they work great and the prices are super low," Palmer says.

The store brand product comparison app Brandefy compared eight of Target's Smartly products, including dish soaps, hand soaps and all-purpose cleaners, to the name-brand Method line of products. Target's low-cost products are the winners, with the Brandefy team picking the Smartly products almost 63 percent of the time.

The Smartly 32-ounce bottle of all-purpose cleaner sells for $1.59, while a 10-ounce bottle of dish soap is only 79 cents, according to the Target app.

When it comes to comparing quality, one trick Demer recommends is using the Target app to scan any product that you're looking to purchase before you put it in your cart. "I love to do that because I can look at reviews for the items," she says. "I like to use store reviews to make sure that when I'm buying a store brand I'm still getting a premium product."

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