The cost of food is estimated using the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Low-Cost Food Plan. Estimates are taken from June each year to reflect the average annual food costs. The data is provided as a national average for males and females in different age ranges. For the purpose of this site, food costs were determined for males and females in age ranges 0-2, 2-4, 5-12, 13-23, and 23 and older. The average for each family is the sum of the average cost per family member in each age range. The Low-Cost Food Plan was selected over three other USDA Food Plans (Thrifty, Moderate, and Liberal) as the most accurate estimate for a lower income family. The Low-Cost Food Plan was selected over the Thrifty Plan because the Thrifty Plan, although a lower estimate, does not provide a basic, nutritious diet.