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The Cost of the Diet is an innovative method and software developed by Save the Children UK to estimate the amount and combination of local foods that are needed to provide a typical family with a diet that meets their average needs for energy and their recommended intakes of protein, fat and micronutrients. The method was developed as a response to research undertaken by Save the Children which demonstrated that the impact of traditional nutrition education programmes has been limited because of the economic constraints facing many households in low-income countries.


The tool aims to answer the following questions:


1. What is the minimum cost of foods that meet the nutrient needs of a typical household?
2. Can a nutritious diet be achieved by people using locally available foods?
3. Is this diet affordable?
4. If not, what could be done?


A Cost of the Diet assessment is most useful when chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies have been identified as a nutritional problem and the availability or affordability of nutritious foods are likely to be among the underlying causes. Once data collectors are trained and communities mobilised, cost of the diet assessments can be completed on a regular basis. Assessments can be done as part of a situation analysis in order to understand the causes of malnutrition. In addition regular assessments can also be incorporated into nutrition/food security surveillance systems.


The Cost of the Diet analysis software and the guidelines are free to use. However, we do request that whenever you use Cost of the Diet analysis in reports/publications, you reference the method in the following way:

“Analysis was done using Save the Children UK’s Cost of the Diet method”.


We are keen to explore the ways that the Cost of the Diet can be used as part of programming, research and advocacy. If you have any suggestions. feedback or would like a copy of the software, please contact the Hunger Reduction and Livelihoods team at Save the Children UK