The food and other products you buy at the grocery are typically measured in standard units like ounces or pounds. A unit price is simply the item's price converted to cost per unit. For example, a 5-pound bag of sugar costing $3 has a unit price of 60 cents per pound. It's tempting to assume large packages have lower unit prices than small ones, but Consumer Reports says it's not unusual for bigger sizes to cost more per unit.
The Unit Price Formula
Some grocery stores post unit prices, but Consumer Reports warns they aren't always accurate. It's best to check the unit prices yourself. To calculate a unit price for grocery items, divide the price by the unit measure. Suppose you are trying to decide between two sizes of the same brand of coffee. One can weighs 13.5 ounces and is priced at $4.45. Dividing $4.45 by 13.5 gives you a unit price of 33 cents per ounce. The large can costs $10.88 and weighs 2 pounds, or 32 ounces. Divide $10.88 by 32 and the unit price comes to 34 cents per ounce. In this example, the smaller can costs less per ounce, so it is actually the better deal.