WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Bigger does not always equal cheaper!

Posted October 25, 2011

Here's a perfect example of why you need to look at price per unit every time you buy! Take a look at the prices I found for sour cream at Food Lion this morning. These are all for the My Essentials Food Lion brand sour cream.

8 oz container: $0.53 ($1.06 per pound)

16 oz. container: $1.57 ($1.57 per pound)

24 oz. container: $2.47 ($1.65 per pound)

As you can see from these numbers and the photos above, the smaller 8 oz. package is a much better deal than either of the two larger containers. It's 36% less expensive than the 24 oz. container!

Most shelf tags have price per unit listed on them. If you have a coupon, you will need to take that into consideration to figure out the price per unit after coupon. Here's the simple equation:

Price of item divided by the number of units = price per unit.

Let's use the 24 oz. container as an example:

$2.47 divided by 24 oz = .102 per oz.

Multiply .102 by 16 oz. to get price per lb, which equals $1.65.

If I had a coupon for .50 off the price of the 24 oz. container, here's how the equation would look:

$2.47 - .50 coupon = $1.97 (price after coupon)

$1.97 (the price after coupon) divided by 24 oz. = .082 oz. (price per oz.)

.082 multiplied by 16 oz. = $1.31 per pound

For a list of good prices to pay for items we all commonly buy, click the link above for my Price Book.

And remember, just because something is sold in bulk it is NOT necessarily a better deal than a smaller package. 


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • jackiesmith43 Oct 26, 2011

    Just yesterday I was buying Kellogg's cereal at the Walmart. The regular 14 oz. size box was several cents cheaper per ounce than the larger Value sized box. Doesn't make any sense does it?

  • jcrownel Oct 25, 2011

    Marketing Person V'S Consumer Person....And the winner is????

  • erinlikescoupons Oct 25, 2011

    Most grocery stores list below the price what you are paying per oz. It's a great tool to use when shopping!

  • Oxymoron02 Oct 25, 2011

    It amazes me more when people don't compare unit pricing when the conversion is simple than it does when the conversion is complex. I mean, if I need 16 oz of sour cream, it doesn't take a math degree to double the price of the 8 oz container and realize that it is less expensive than the 16 oz. It gets more obtuse when you're talking paper towels, or things that many people can't trivially convert (do you know how many fluid ounces are in a liter?).

    My phone has a calculator, but I rarely use it for unit pricing comparison. I mostly guestimate.

    Sam's Club has some things at a knock your socks off price, as does BJ's. Rarely are these things groceries.

    The only reason I miss my Sam's Club membership is that they have the BEST price going for canned air. We go through 12-20 a year, and their price is almost good enough to justify a membership. Almost.

  • kellymburdick Oct 25, 2011

    I bought 2-8oz containers of sour cream at Food Lion this past weekend, because I noticed it was cheaper than the 16 oz I typically buy. :-D

  • nceducator79 Oct 25, 2011

    pss3...I used to swear by Sam's Club...we bought stuff in bulk there. Then we forgot to renew our membership and I started couponing. I can't believe how much more I can get for my money. The best thing...I don't have to brave the crowds at Sam's on the weekends anymore and I rarely have to go to Walmart! LOL

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 25, 2011

    "2 gallons of lemon juice" - that's funny! We would not be able to use that much lemon juice unless the girls made lemonade every week!

    jdouglas - I agree about price per unit and oz. I don't usually calculate price per pound either - just did it for this example since the shelf tags were in price per lb. I also use price per oz. :-)

  • pss3 Oct 25, 2011

    Amen Faye! I have a Sam's club membership with my MIL and everytime we go shopping their, she thinks she is saving money by buying everything in bulk. I try to tell her that you have to watch the sizes and unit pricing. Plus, can one family really use 2 gallons of lemon juice before it goes rancid? Now you can save a lot of money on items at Sam's but not usually on groceries!

  • jdouglas13 Oct 25, 2011

    Very good advice Faye. My father did the grocery shopping when I was a kid and he taught me how to do this price comparison. I always bring a calculator with me when I go to the store. The only thing I do differently which is easier for the math challenged (like me) is I just calculate the price per ounce rather than take it to the next step for the price per pound. I still know which size is the best value, and it is one less calculation to screw up :)