Construction of a modest-but-adequate food budget for households with two adults and one pre-school child: a preliminary investigation



  • 1A food budget which is modest-but-adequate rather than subsistence in concept has been constructed for households with 1 man, 1 woman and 1 child aged 1–4 years old. National Food Survey and Family Expenditure Survey data provided the initial points of reference with regard to food consumption patterns and expenditure.
  • 2The budget reflects current food consumption patterns in the median income group and incorporates guidelines for healthy eating. It is based on low but not minimum prices, and so allows for individual variations in food preferences and availability.
  • 3The estimated cost of home food consumption at July 1988 prices was £9.64 per person per week. Additional expenditure was required for sweets and soft drinks (73 p) and foods purchased and eaten away from home (£1.49), giving a total weekly expenditure of £11.86 per person per week, or £35.58 for the household.
  • 4The estimated increase in food costs between 1983 and 1988 was 20% using the Retail Price Index but 36% using 1988 supermarket prices. Any up-dating of budgets should therefore be based on current prices rather than on changes in the RPI.
  • 5£35.58 represents 52% of the income of a 2 adult, 1 child family on Income Support (£68.35). This is substantially in excess of the poverty line suggested by Orshansky (1965) (no more than 30% of net income spent on food). The purchase of a modest-but-adequate and healthy diet is likely to be out of the financial reach of the majority of families living on low incomes in the UK.