Objective It has been observed that diet quality and food choices vary depending on socio-economic status (SES), especially when measured through income and educational level. Although the reasons behind these differences are multiple, diet cost is a critical determinant in those groups that spend a higher proportion of their budget on food. Reference budgets are priced baskets containing the minimum goods and services necessary for well-described types of families to have an adequate social participation. In the current paper we describe the development and content of the Spanish Healthy Food Basket (SHFB). Design National dietary guidelines were translated into monthly food baskets. Next, these baskets were validated in terms of acceptability and feasibility through focus group discussions, and finally they were priced. Setting The focus group discussions and the pricing were performed in Barcelona, Spain. Subjects Twenty adults aged 30-50 years from different SES backgrounds and their children aged 2-22 years participated in three discussion groups. Results The SHFB complies with the dietary recommendations for the Spanish population. The monthly cost of this basket ranges from 131·63 € to 573·80 € depending on the type of family. Conclusions The SHFB does not have the purpose of prescribing what people should eat, but of estimating a minimum budget threshold below which healthy eating is not possible for well-described types of families. Thus, the SHFB is an educative guide on how to plan a healthy food budget and orient policies designed to guarantee food access and reduce SES inequalities.