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Save Money with Unit Pricing

Cartoon dollar putting coin in jar

The unit price is a great tool in the grocery store. You can save money by comparing prices of similar items to find the best deal. The unit price tells you the cost of an item based on the weight or volume of that item.

Sauce price tag with unit price and total price circle. Image of jar below with net weight circled.

Finding the unit price

The unit price is usually found on the shelf price tag. There will be two prices: the total cost (sometimes called the “retail price”) and the unit price. The unit price is based on the weight or volume of the item. This can usually be found on the front of the package. 

For example, a price tag for a 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce would show the unit price based on one ounce of pasta sauce. 

How unit pricing saves money

By using the unit price, you can compare similar items to decide which one is the best choice for you. Since the unit price tells you the price per ounce, you don’t have to guess which package size is the best deal.

When comparing unit prices, it is important to consider a few things:

  1. Larger packages and bulk items usually have a better value, but not always. It’s also important to know whether you can use all the product before it spoils. If some of the food will go to waste, it may not be the best value to buy the bigger item with the lower unit price.
  2. Bigger isn’t always better, so check the unit price every time. Sometimes smaller packages have the same unit price and sometimes the smaller packages even end up with a lower unit price!
  3. Sometimes the unit price listed on the price tag isn’t accurate due to sales or if you have a coupon. If the items you are comparing are on sale, you may need to calculate the new unit price on your own.
calculate unit price with pricer per ounce

Calculating Unit Price

You can calculate the unit price of any item by dividing the total cost (also known as the retail price) by the weight or volume of the product.

TIP: If you are using a coupon, you will need to subtract the coupon savings from the total cost before doing the calculation above.

comparing price of small ketchup bottle and large ketchup bottle

Compare to find the best deal

Once you know how to find the unit price, you can compare the costs of the same food that come in different sizes or are available in many different brands.

Ketchup A has a retail price of $2.18 and is a 13 oz container.
$2.18/13 ounces = $0.167 per ounce

Ketchup B has a retail price of $5.98 and is a 44 oz container.
$5.98/44 ounces = $0.136 per ounce

Even though you have to pay a little more in total cost, you are getting a better deal by buying the larger bottle because each ounce of ketchup is cheaper. Just make sure you have room in your fridge and will be able to use up all the ketchup before it spoils!