The Easiest Way to Comparison Shop at the Grocery Store

published Feb 5, 2015
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

I found myself in the produce section at Whole Foods recently staring at the baby spinach. There were prepacked bags and bulk baby spinach to choose from. I usually assume bulk goods are cheaper, but the prepacked bags were oh-so-tempting and easy. Which should I get?

I decided that price would be the deciding factor, so I set about trying to figure out which was a better deal, when I realized the answer was right there in front of me! I didn’t even have to do any math!

Look at the Price Tags!

Many grocery stores put a lot of useful information on the little price tags attached to the shelves. Besides the name of the item and the price, it will also list the weight so you can accurately match up the item to the tag if more than one size or variety is available.

But some grocery stores, and Whole Foods in particular, add something even more useful to the tag: price per ounce! You might have to squint to see it, but this little indicator is a great way to compare two different items if you’re price sensitive. I love that this math is already done for me, so all I have to do is look — no need to whip out my phone (or pen and paper!) to do the calculations.

In the case of the baby spinach, the loose and prepacked bags turned out to be the same price per ounce, so I was able to just grab a prepacked bag and throw it into my cart, confident that I was also being financially responsible.

Unfortunately, not all stores use price per ounce. Even in the same store, the unit price can be inconsistent — one tag might be price per ounce, while the other one next to it is priced by a different unit of measure.

Still, it’s always worth taking a close look at the price tags to see if there’s any useful information to glean from them!

I’m curious how you comparison shop — do you have any quick little tricks to see which brand or item is a better deal?