With budgets being stretched and Australian inflation rising more than 5%, many are looking to reduce costs on essentials.

A CHOICE Consumer Pulse survey found that 63% of respondents were concerned about the cost of food and groceries.

The biggest, most obvious tip you can take to curb those supermarket bills is to shop by unit price rather than the packet or bottle cost. This could cut up to 43% off your bill to help cut down your grocery budget.

And you can beat the new phenomena eroding value for money: shrinkflation, where manufacturers reduce the amount you are buying for the same price, but keep the packaging size the same.

What is unit pricing?

Supermarkets and other grocery retailers are required to display the unit price of packaged foods such as cereal, flour and rice and of other items such as detergents and toilet paper.

When you shop online or in-store you will see prices for each product on the shelf label or below the product image. You will also see the unit price, which is the price of the product based on a standard unit of measurement.

An example would be that a 2kg pack of rice could be $4.80 but its unit price will be listed in smaller writing on the label as 24 cents per 100g.

The unit price allows you to compare the price of the product with different brands or products to determine what the cheapest option is.

Another brand of rice might seem cheaper because it is $3 for 1kg but the unit price is 30 cents per 100g, so you can see that the 2kg pack of rice actually offers you a cheaper deal.

Compare costs of common products

You can use unit pricing to compare the prices of different brands, product types of pack sizes.

An example would be checking and seeing that a 500g box of traditional rolled oats costs $4.25 with a unit price of 85 cents per 100g. You may compare that with a box of rolled oats sachets which retail for $4.80, with a unit price of $1.41 per 100g.

Of course, you may choose the sachets because you prefer to buy your oats that way but at least you’ll know that you’re buying the more expensive option.

You can also use unit prices to compare products that are on special with the normal prices to work out whether you’re actually getting a better deal or not.

How you can get a better deal

You can use unit pricing to compare:

  • Different pack sizes and packaging types
  • Different brands
  • Special vs normal prices
  • Packaged and loose such as apples or potatoes
  • Fresh, frozen, dried or canned such as peas
  • Similar and substitute products such as types of rice
  • Different convenience levels such as cheese in blocks, wedges, slices, sticks, grated or diced
  • Different grocery retailers including online stores
  • Unit prices in different parts of the supermarket, for example cheese, meats, seafood, nuts, fruit and vegetables.

What is the cheapest way to buy Vegemite?

CHOICE used unit prices to find out the most economical way to buy Australia’s favourite spread, Vegemite, which is available in different jar sizes and pack types, depending on where you shop.

Although the prices are mostly identical between retailers, apart from when it’s on special, unit pricing allows you to compare which pack size or type offers the best value and if specials really are a good deal.

The cheapest option CHOICE found was the 380g jar at IGA, which was on special for $5 with a unit price of $1.32/100g.

If you buy Vegemite at the standard price, the 560g jar offers the best value and is the same price at Coles, Woolworths and IGA.

Buy in bulk

As we found with Vegemite, the unit price for larger packs is often lower than small or medium-sized packs so buying the larger pack size or in bulk can be an excellent way to save money if you have the storage space in your pantry.

You should avoid buying the larger pack if it’s likely to go to waste as you will end up wasting money.

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