Using Unit Pricing

Families, Food and Fitness November 18, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

The big box or the smaller box — which one is the better buy? We usually assume that it is the “economy size” or “family size” container, but that may not always be the case. How do you know what is going to get you the most for your money? Most of us would be in the grocery store for hours if we tried to calculate the best buy for every product we purchase.

10oz Cheerios Grocery Store Label

This is where unit prices come in handy — they do the calculating for us.

Unit pricing labels are usually found below the total price label on the grocery store shelf. These labels are often easy to overlook but are the most helpful items in the store when it comes to getting the most for your money. The unit price tells you the price per unit whether the unit is ounces, pounds, quarts, or other measures of weight or volume. Which is a better buy — a 10-ounce package of cereal that costs $2.85 or a 15-ounce package that costs $3.95? The unit pricing label will show that the 10-ounce package costs 28.5¢ per ounce, and the 15-ounce package costs 26.3¢ per ounce. It is easy to see that the 15-ounce package has the lower cost per unit and is going to be a better buy.

15oz Cheerios Grocery Store Label

Keep in mind that buying a larger package because it has a lower cost per unit is only going to save you money if you and your family will eat all of the food in the package. If the food spoils and has to be thrown away, buying the larger package could be a waste of your money.

Be financially smart and get the most for your money. Be on the lookout for the unit price label the next time you go grocery shopping.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.