USDA's low cost food plan

Low-Cost Food Plan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) of the USDA uses the USDA’s Food Plans and current food cost data to calculate, each month, the Cost of Food at Home for four different levels:

  • Thrifty
  • Low
  • Moderate
  • Liberal

Each plan provides enough food for all meals to be eaten at home or carried out of the home. All plans provide the calories and nutrients recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Thrifty plan, which is the least costly of the four, is the basis for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp program. The Low and Moderate programs provide appropriate diets for most people. The Liberal plan permits a greater variety, more meat and a different mix of fruits and vegetables than the other plans.

When reading the table, keep in mind that the information is based on nationwide averages. It does not include non-food items purchased at grocery stores. Footnotes are provided to assist in adjusting food costs based on different family sizes.

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