Each month, the Department of Agriculture calculates what a family would have to spend each week for food, based on family size, composition and lifestyle. The figures below assume that all the food is bought at a store and prepared at home. The amounts do not include money spent for alcoholic beverages, pet food, soap, cigarettes, paper goods and other nonfood items, which, the department said, represent more than a fourth of the average grocery store bill. While all of the plans are considered nutritionally sound, the lower-cost plans include less milk, meat, vegetables and fruit and more peas and beans, cereal, flour and bread. The thrifty plan is used by the department to determine the coupon allotment for the food stamp program. These figures, released last week, are for May. [TABLES OMITTED]

You can figure costs for your own household by using the figures below, adding up a total based on members' sex and age. Deduct 5 per cent from the amount shown for each meal that a member does not eat at home and add 5 per cent for each meal that a guest of a particular age eats in your home.

Then adjust the figures for the size of the family since larger families tend to buy more economically. The figures are based on families with four persons. For a one-person family add 20 per cent; for two persons, add 10 per cent, for three, 5 per cent, for five or six, deduct 5 per cent, for seven or more, deduct 10 percent. [TABLE OMITTED]