Nutritious Food Basket  

What is Canada's National Nutritious Food Basket

Canada's National Nutritious Food Basket that was compiled for 2008 is a tool used  by the various levels of government, health and social service agencies to assess the cost and affordability of nutritious meals.

It is designed to include a wide variety of food that are suitable for all the age and sex groups and that meet their "energy and nutrient needs" yet still be affordable.

Don't mistake this as a shopping list though; there are many options and combinations of food purchases that can provide a healthy diet.

This is just a guide for assessment purchases.

But it does give some idea of the cost of groceries. I find this list very basic and certainly it doesn't include many of the superfoods that are known to provide more of the nutrients we need. Certainly there is no allowance for organic foods or, what many consider a basic health necessity now, cold pressed olive oil, let alone non-GMO foods.

This basket list of 67 foods are chosen from foods that are minimally processed and thought to be commonly eaten in quantities enough to provide adequate nutrition. Most require preparation. This does not include foods for special diets, condiments, etc. Basic foods only.

But the purpose of this is not to criticize the list. So, I repeat, Canada's Nutritious Food Basket is for assessment and measurement purposes; in other words, it is used to compare the ongoing rise of the cost of food.

The most interesting part is what the assessment shows it costs to feed a family of four in B.C., remembering how many nutritious items are not included.

Read on.

 Nutritious Food Basket List of Foods - 2008

Here is the list of food that was included in the 2008 assessment:

apple juice  
baked beans (canned)  
beef (ground, inside round and steak)  
bread (white, whole wheat, and buns)  
broccoli (fresh)  
canola oil  
carrots (fresh)  
cheddar cheese  
cheese slices  
chicken legs  
corn (canned)  
fish (frozen)  
green pepper  
iceberg lettuce  
lentils (dry)  
mixed vegetables (frozen)  
mozzarella cheese  
orange juice  
peaches (canned)  
peanut butter  
pears (fresh)  
peas (frozen)  
pita bread  
plain cookies and crackers  
pork chops  
romaine lettuce  
salad dressing  
salmon (canned)  
strawberries (frozen)  
string beans (frozen)  
sweet potatoes  
tomatoes (canned and fresh)  
tuna (canned)  
vegetable juice   and

Not too bad.

Some foods were replaced from the last assessment in 1998:

Canned fruit cocktail (replaced by canned peaches)
Dried white beans (replaced by dried lentils)
Flakes of corn and wheat squares cereal (replaced by bran flakes with raisin and toasted oat Os cereals)
Grapefruit (combined with oranges)
Medium ground beef (replaced by lean ground beef)
Stewing beef (replaced by beef roast)

Some foods were eliminated:

Frozen French fries
Ice cream
Macaroni and cheese dinner, dry mix

Now, you're wondering how does it all add up?

According to research reported at

In B.C. , data is collected in May/June every two years by the five regional health authorities.  Based on Health Canada’s NNFB,the same tool is used each year to facilitate comparison. Food costs from approximately 130 randomly selected, full-service grocery stores are used to determine the average cost of the 67 food items.

The monthly food cost is based on a reference family of four, which is made up of a male and female (age 31-50), a boy (14-18 years old), and a girl (4-8 years old)

Here is the cost for that family of four based on the 2013 data:

The average monthly cost of a nutritious food basket for a reference
family of four in British Columbia in 2013 was $914. 

There was some variation depending on what part of B.C. you lived in with a higher cost for northern ($939.00), coastal ($934.00) and Vancouver Island  ($948.00) residents. If you lived in the lower mainland or in the southern interior regions, your costs could drop to $886.00 and $862 respectively.

Here's the info for that report at :

Cooking at least one meal a week without meat can lower your grocery bill but still provide healthy nutrition. This recipe can be made with or without meat, add extra veggies if you like, and it's sure to be a hit when you serve it with a whole grain roll or homemade baking powder biscuits hot from the oven. It freezes well so double or triple the recipe.

Best Pennywise Tip: I make this soup right before shopping day when I like to clean out my fridge of vegetables that need to be used up. So I might add just about any kind of vegetable that's leftover or going limp. The basics of onions, carrots and celery are a good start and add lots of flavor. (Add extra onions and garlic if it's cold season) But yams, potatoes and squash cut in cubes add even more flavor and color. Got left over roast, ground beef or ground chicken, meatballs, or sausage? Just throw it in! Barbecue sauce? Yup, you bet, it adds a nice tang so those left-over grilled meats are great to use, too.

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