NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Getting the Best Buy

Getting the Best Buy 8/5/16Is there such a thing as a quick trip to the grocery store?  Probably not, but I’m not complaining!  Quite often, it’s my chance to visit a bit with someone whom I haven’t seen for a while.  Other times, I’ll see something new on the shelf that I want to check out. 

On a recent trip through a local grocery store, I noticed a different container in the milk cooler.  The regular quart, half-gallon, and gallon containers of skim milk were there as usual, and in addition to them, was a 3.03 quart jug.  All came from the same distributor.

Being the largest container, I presumed the milk in the gallon jug was the “best” buy.  However, once I actually calculated the unit prices for the various containers of milk, I discovered that the jug that held 3.03 quarts was actually my “best” buy that day.

Unit pricing is a term that describes pricing goods to determine what the cost is per unit of measure, such as pounds, ounces or quarts. Finding the unit price of an item allows consumers to find the best buy and consider a variety of alternatives to best meet their needs. 

The day of my discovery at the milk cooler, the prices were:
                $2.12 for a quart bottle,
                $2.79 for a half gallon carton,
                $4.49 for a gallon jug, and
                $2.99 for the new 3.03 quart jug.

To determine the unit price, I needed to decide on the “unit” of measurement.  I quickly calculated the price per quart and the price per ounce for the milk in each container:
                $2.12 per quart ($06.6 per ounce) for milk in the quart bottle,
                $1.40 per quart ($04.4 per ounce) for milk in the half-gallon carton,
                $1.12 per quart ($03.5 per ounce) for milk in the gallon jug, and
                $0.99 per quart ($03.1 per ounce) for milk in the new 3.03 quart jug.

The item with the best unit price may or may not be the best choice.  Other factors to take into consideration are:
                what about the quality?
                does the brand matter to me?
                what about the packaging?
                how much of the product do I need or will I use before it loses freshness or quality?                                                             could I substitute evaporated or dry milk for fresh milk, or frozen or canned fruit for fresh fruit?

 For six tips for saving money with unit pricing, check out the online Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen fact sheet at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1752.pdf, or request it from the Extension Office.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/supermarket-shopping-sales-store-435452/    (downloaded 8/9/16)


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