The Montreal Diet Dispensary Presents the Results of the Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket: What Is the Real Cost of a Basic Balanced Diet in 2022?


Montréal, Québec, October 12, 2022 – In the lead-up to World Food Day on October 16, which aims to raise public awareness of current food insecurity, the Montreal Diet Dispensary is taking this opportunity to present its report on the 2021-2022 Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket (NAFB). The NAFB is an effective and reliable tool that estimates the minimum cost each year of a balanced diet that meets the population’s nutritional recommendations. According to the data collected between October 2021 and July 2022, the minimum annual cost of a healthy diet was estimated at $12,987.35 for a family of four in Montréal, which is $8.90 per person per day. In less than a year, the cost of the Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket grew 15%.

The results of the 2021-2022 NAFB report

Collected each quarter in October 2021 and January, April and July 2022, the data presented is from price surveys at selected standard and discount food retailers in Lachine. The results were obtained by taking the price of foods into consideration alongside the quantity of food required to meet the nutritional needs of a typical family[1] of two adults and two children. In total, 68 basic food items were selected based on their low cost, nutritional value and accessibility, while taking into consideration the consumption habits of the Québec population.

Some data from the report for the assessed period:

  • Grain products and canned and frozen or fresh fruit have had the highest cost increases, at 37% and 41% respectively.
  • There was a significant increase for basic food items like pasta (116%), legumes (17%), white flour (225%), white sugar (25%) and margarine (51%).
  • The cost of plant-based protein sources increased 13% between October 2021 and July 2022. Among these products, the cost of legumes increased more (17%), even though they remain an affordable source of protein compared to animal-based protein sources like meats.
  • The cost of commercial infant formula and baby cereals increased 40% and 36% respectively between October 2021 and July 2022.

Food insecurity

The Observatoire québécois des inégalités at Université de Montréal has been studying the NAFB data for a number of years. Research conducted by François Fournier, Ph.D., shows that moderate and severe food insecurity in Québec increased from 10% to 15% between March 2020 and May 2022.[2] According to Fournier, economic instability and inflationary trends disproportionately disadvantage low-income households, which are most affected by food insecurity.

A person is food insecure when they are unable to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways or when they are uncertain that they will be able to do so. Household food insecurity is often linked with their lack of financial ability to access adequate food.[3]


“For over 70 years, the NAFB has been making it possible to know the real cost of a basic balanced diet and has served as an advocacy tool for improving access from an economic perspective to a healthy diet. In the current economic environment and sociopolitical conditions, access to a healthy diet is compromised, especially for pregnant women in vulnerable situation, single-parent families and new mothers and their babies. For these women, it is very hard to obtain basic foods that meet all their nutritional needs. This is why the Dispensary is more committed than ever to its mission of providing social nutrition interventions to these women.”

‒ Julie Paquette, MBA, P.Dt., Executive Director, Montreal Diet Dispensary

“As a nutritionist, I feel compelled by the issues around access to healthy food. The results presented today by the Dispensary highlight very real problems faced by a growing number of families whose income is not enough to fulfil their basic nutritional needs. I am very concerned about the food insecurity situation. When the cost of living increases faster than money’s coming in, it becomes essential to have a good knowledge of the resources and tools that can help us. The services provided by the Dispensary’s team, like building food preparation knowledge and skills and giving food shopping advice and suggestions for low-cost meals, are some of the solutions to respond to these issues.”

‒ Geneviève O’Gleman, P.Dt. Nutritionist, TV Host, Columnist and Author

“The Dispensary reports that in less than a year, the cost of the Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket grew 15%. This is a significant change in the cost of food, which shows that an increasing number of low-income households risk being food insecure. Rising food prices are only a piece of the food insecurity puzzle. The food price disparity that continues to exist in the Montréal region, households’ lack of financial resources and affordable housing, and the issues surrounding limited accessibility to nutritional foods are all aspects to consider to address the situation.”

 ‒- François Fournier, Ph.D., Researcher at the Observatoire québécois des inégalités

For more information, visit the website and join our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter communities (@dispensairemtl).

About the Montreal Diet Dispensary’s NAFB

The Dispensary is a recognized institution in the nutrition and food security community. Since the early 1950s, the Dispensary has put forward a Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket (NAFB) able to satisfy the nutritional needs of individuals according to age, sex and any physiological conditions at play.

The Dispensary thanks its partners who help support its mission, including the Direction régionale de santé publique of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. The Dispensary is supported by Centraide and a member of the Fondation Olo.

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To read the report or for more information:

Valérie Lavoie

Massy Forget Langlois Public Relations / Cell: 438-885-9135

[1]Made up of a man (age 31–50), a woman (age 31–50), a boy (age 14–18) and a girl (age 9–13).

[2] François Fournier (2022). La faim justifie des moyens. S’engager à réduire durablement et à prévenir l’insécurité alimentaire des ménages au Québec, Montréal, Observatoire québécois des inégalités.

[3] Health Canada. Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004): Income-Related Household Food Security in Canada

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