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The Food MagazineThe cost of calories

Published in The Food Magazine issue 78
6th August 2007

The Food Magazine went out shopping in a low-income area in inner East London, to see how much food cost in terms of the calories you can buy for your pennies.

Typically, low income families spend about 22 per person per week on their food, including eating out. Assuming they need around 2,200 calories per day, this means they need to find foods that cost on average less than seven calories per penny.

This is what we found in the local Lidl supermarket, going for the best bargains available (July 12th 2007). Items less than around ten pence per 100 calories reflect good value food energy - but not a healthy diet!

Foodstuffs

Cost of 100 calories in pence

Vegetable oil

0.7

Digestive biscuits

1.3

Custard cream biscuits

1.9

Sugar

2.0

Frozen sausages

4.3

Orange drink

5.1

Crisps (various)

5.5

Baked beans

5.9

Whole milk

7.5

Potatoes

8.4

Beefburgers

9.6

Frankfurters

9.6

Sweet yogurt

10.1

Orange juice

16.9

Carrots

17.3

Back bacon

18.2

Onions

20.3

Fresh mince beef

21.0

Grapes

32.8

Green cabbage

36.0

Iceberg lettuce

45.7

Tuna steaks

46.1

Fresh beef steak

59.5

Fresh tomatoes

63.7

Full table published in The Food Magazine 78

 

Keeping hunger pangs at bay without stretching your budget is simple if you like fatty, sugary food. By comparison, cabbages and carrots are a very poor bargain - you can spend a small fortune on salad and fruit and still feel hungry.