Save money on groceries at the supermarket using unit cost pricing
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Everyone likes to save money on groceries regardless of the inflation rate. But when inflation is high and budgets are tight it’s even more important than ever to get the most bang for your buck each grocery shop. This means paying attention to price tickets of items while shopping to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Since 2009 it has been compulsory for supermarkets and large grocery stores to display the unit pricing for each item in Australia – both in store and online advertising.
Unit prices show how much the product costs using a standard unit of measurement, such as grams or millilitres, and are usually displayed in smaller text under the price of a product.
A 2016 study that found a family of four could save up to $1700 per year on their weekly grocery shopping by paying attention to unit pricing.
How does unit pricing work when grocery shopping?
Below are three different sized Weetbix packs as shown on Woolworths’ website. Under the price for the pack is the ‘price per 100g’ (underlined in red). This shows that although the 1.2kg pack is the highest price at $5.00, it is the best value using unit pricing - at $0.42 per 100g. This is less than half the unit price of the smaller 375g pack ($0.87 per 100g) despite containing over three times as much product.
What to do if there are no unit prices when grocery shopping
If you are trying to compare value at a shop that does not have the unit price available follow these easy steps to calculate the best value:
Step 1. Get the calculator up on your phone.
Step 2. Type the price of the item then divide by the quantity. E.g. using the 380g Vegemite with a price of $7.00 we get
7.00 / 380 = 0.184
Step 3. Multiply that answer by 100 to get the cost per 100g.
0.184 x 100 = $1.84 per 100g
Now if we apply the same technique for the 220g and 150g Vegemite we get:
4.70 / 220 x 100 = $2.14 per 100g
3.80 / 150 x 100 = $2.53 per 100g
Because the same product can be made in different sizes, different weights, different milligrams, looking at the unit price makes it easier to determine the best value for money.
Save money on groceries at the supermarket with these tips
Sign up to loyalty programs: Major retailers offer loyalty cards and some offer discounts on shopping once a certain number of points have been accumulated. You should be proactive about collecting points, and look for special offers that might boost points.
Consider home-brand products: Supermarkets are investing millions of dollars every year in improving quality of their own/home brand products often making them a cheaper option.
Bulk buy: With Costco expanding its presence in Australia, buying long-life essentials such as toilet paper and laundry detergent in bulk could be a good way to save long term. But always calculate the unit cost price to make sure that there is a genuine saving by buying in bulk.
Cut out the middle man: If you don't mind travelling to get the best deal, check out local fresh food markets to see if you can find products cheaper, directly from the source.
Try shopping apps: Apps such as Frugl can be good tools to find the best specials so you can plan where to shop for specific items.
Use unit cost pricing: Use the technique above to compare different sized products to evaluate the best value.
We all like to get value for our money and grocery shopping is no different. Use unit cost pricing to compare different prices and quantities to determine the best value. Buy in bulk where it makes sense to do so. Loyalty programs, shopping apps and home-brand products can often save you money. Most importantly make a budget to help show where your money is going.