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Sometimes Less is More

Does it make more sense to buy individually wrapped or larger sizes of a product? The following information may help you decide.

Nashville, Ark. – When planning and preparing lunches for work or school, it makes sense to buy individually wrapped packages of your favorite snacks, fruit cups, or even packaged lunch meals, right? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of price, convenience, waste and other factors of individually wrapped products compared to larger sizes.

  • Price. You have probably heard that the larger the size of the product, the less expensive it is. While this is true most of the time, it is not always true. In order to find the best price, you will need to do a little math. Some stores do this for you by providing the unit price on the products. It allows you to compare the price of the same product with different packaging. If the unit price is not available, you will need to divide the amount of servings, ounces, or weights of each size available. For example: If a cleaning product costs $2.95 for 16 oz., you would divide $2.95 by 16 to find the price per ounce. Suppose that product came in a 36 oz. container. Then you would divide the price of that product by 36 to determine price per ounce. There are apps available that you can download to your smart device to help you quickly determine which product is the best buy.
  • Convenience. Individually wrapped packages of snacks, fruits and vegetables make it easy to pack that lunch. It is also nice to have the packaged foods stay sealed in their package until you are ready to eat them. This helps prevent the likelihood of the food losing quality or going stale before it can be consumed. These packages could save you money by not throwing away uneaten food.  Smaller packages are also great if you are providing snacks for more than one child. It will save you time by not having to package the foods into individual servings.
  • Waste. Individual packages often mean extra packaging and extra waste in our landfills especially if it can’t be recycled. Even if it can be recycled, your work place or school may not have recycling containers and it ends up in the trash.
  • Additional Considerations. Small packages can help with portion control, which can be nice. However, it is worth noting that some individual packages are larger than a single serving from the larger package. For example, salad dressing in individual packages many times are equivalent to 1 ½ servings from the full-size bottle. A 20oz. soft drink may say it is one serving, but in fact it is almost three servings. Therefore, you may be eating more than you want or need just to finish the package.

            For the most part, larger packages of products are still the best choice, but it is up to you the consumer to be wise and weigh the options. Check the unit prices to determine the best buy. Consider convenience as it may be worth your time to buy individual servings of products. It is really up to you!

            For more information on unit pricing or serving sizes, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            The Howard County Fair is next week! Why not bake up a batch of your favorite cookies, cake, muffins, breads or pies to enter in the Bake Show. Entries for Baked Goods will be accepted on Tuesday, September 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or Wednesday morning from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. This applies only to baked goods and live plants. All other entries must be entered on Tuesday. Here is a recipe to help inspire you.

Apple Muffins

2 cups self-rising flour

½ cup sugar

1 cup apple, cored, peeled and finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

3 Tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup chopped pecans

½ teaspoon cinnamon

            Stir flour and sugar together in a bowl. Add chopped apple; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk and butter. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Spoon into muffin cups that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, filling ¾ full. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Yield: 1 dozen muffins

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.