Food on a budget tip 7: Compare prices and unitsFinancial Literacy

If you want to save money while grocery shopping for food, you should take the time to compare prices and units. If you want to save money shopping, you need to realize it takes time, practice, some math, and a bit of common sense.

I went to Walmart the other day to quickly pick up some items and I noticed many people grabbing bags of  produce instead of loose produce weighed on the scale. I don’t know their line of thinking, but more than likely they saw a large bag of produce for a fairly low price and thought it was a great deal. It is easy to just grab a bag and go, but if you are a budget shopper like me, you know things are not what they always seem. 

The Breakdown 

food on a budget compare units and prices


The first thing I saw when I walked in the produce section was this large bag of about 8 oranges for 6.98. You would think because it was front and center it was the best deal in the section. Nope. This was not the best deal. If you do the math, the oranges are about 87 cents each. 



food on a budget: compare price and unitWhen I walked further down into the section and down the aisle, I found the best deal for oranges. Loose oranges were .68 cents a pound. Which meant I could get 8 oranges for $5.44 or 10 oranges for $6.80.  I would save $1.54 if I purchased 8 oranges or if I wanted to get more oranges for about the same cost of the prepackaged oranges I would have saved 18 cents. So depending on where you stand on shopping on a budget scale, you might purchase more oranges or the same number of oranges. 



Who cares? 

You might be wondering why you should spend time comparing prices and units. Well,  if you are like me and on a very strict budget, every cent counts. If I use this method for everything I purchase I can easily save over $10 per shopping trip and that is without coupons. Ten dollars may seem like a small number, but if you go to the grocery store five times a month, that is $50 saved.  I also like  the fact I am  able to pick and choose my produce, making sure everything is fresh and unspoiled. 

I also used this method for household and packaged food items. I often spend time comparing brands, ounces, price per unit, and ingredients. For example, I wanted to get Greek yogurt, but was torn between the 24 ounce vanilla Walmart  brand at $3 and the 32 ounce plain Oikos brand a $4. In the end I decided I was willing to pay $1 extra for the Oikos yogurt that was free of corn syrup/all other unnecessary ingredients and  bigger in size. I paid an extra dollar for a healthier option and a larger container that would last me longer, meaning I wouldn’t have to buy more yogurt the next grocery trip. 

Will you try it?

You would be surprised how far you can stretch your dollar. I sometimes make a game of it. Each month when I review how much I spent in each budget category, I love see that I saved money in groceries. The extra money, I either apply to my savings, roll over to my next month’s grocery budget, or treat myself to something nice. When I go over, I reflect on what was different for that month and I push myself to improve the next month. 

A little homework for you. Next time you go grocery shopping pay closer attention to the brands, ounces, price per unit, and ingredients. Use your math skills and common sense to figure out what options are best for your budget. 

Let me know how it works for you! 


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre



    • byNathalie
    • onJanuary 31, 2014

    I shop the same way. I compare size and prices an snake sure I get more bang for my buck…call me cheap but it saves me money!!

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