Finding the Best Buys

Using the Unit Price Tag

Most times it makes sense to buy the large size package of cereal, paper towels, etc. But there are some items that you get just as much bang for your buck on the medium size. Check the unit price. Research shows that the medium size price is the same as the jumbo size for some things like dry cereal, mayonnaise, and peanut butter.

Remember, just because the better buy might be the bigger item, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Sometimes keeping a huge bottle of ketchup in your fridge is a pain in the neck because it takes up so much room.

The “unit price” tells you the cost per pound, quart, or other unit of weight or volume of a food package. It is usually posted on the shelf below the food item. The shelf tag shows the total price (item price) and price per unit (unit price) for the food item.

You can save money when you compare the cost of the same food in different sized containers or different brands. Check out the example below:

Understanding the Price Tag

There are two ways to shop for the best deal at the grocery store!

  1. Look at the retail or shelf price. This is the price you pay at the register for each item.
  2. Look at the unit price. The unit price will tell you how much each item costs per pound, ounce, quart, etc.

How is the unit price found?

Unit price is found by dividing the shelf price by the weight or volume of the item. Unit Price = Shelf Price/Quantity.

The image is of two sizes of yogurt and compares the shelf and unit prices of each.

Yogurt A has a retail price of $0.72 and has 6 ounces in the container.

$0.72/6 ounces = $0.12 per ounce

Yogurt B has a retail price of $1.62 and has 32 ounces in the container.

$1.62/32 ounces = $0.05 per ounce


Unit pricing can also help you decide what brand to buy. Store brands often cost less than well-known brands. Be sure you are comparing the same products by checking the ingredients list and the Nutrition Facts panel on the food label. Sometimes these foods may vary in size, color, or texture more than the national brands. If you want a perfect peach half you may want to pay the price of a national brand. If you want sliced peaches to serve your child or as a quick snack, it may not matter if each slice is the same. You can save money when you compare the unit price of each of the canned peaches before you make your decision.