Chalk it up to the spirit of American capitalism, but sometimes merchants communicate how much a product costs per pound and sometimes they don't. As a consumer, you probably have faced this scenario before. You can make a smart and informed purchase if you know how to calculate the cost per pound.

### Divide and Conquer

Let's say that your taste buds are set on pork ribs and you see one brand promoted at $4.99 per pound and a 3-pound slab of another brand selling for a total of $15.99. Assuming that the two brands are of a similar quality, which brand is the better deal? With a calculator or a pen and paper, divide the total price of the second brand by the weight to compute the cost per pound. This means that the second brand of ribs costs $5.33 per pound, which makes the first brand a better deal.

### Extend the Formula to Ounces

Apply the same equation -- and logic -- to products sold by ounces. There are 16 ounces in 1 pound, so if a 16-ounce bag of pasta is priced at $1.09, you would pay $1.09 per pound. If a nearby, 32-ounce bag of pasta is priced at $1.99, you would divide the price by two (because 32 ounces equals 2 pounds). This bag of pasta, then, costs just less than $1 per pound.