OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have shown that highly nutritious diets are more costly, but to date there has been no evaluation of the costs associated with failing to meet micronutrient recommendations in a Spanish population. DESIGN, SETTING AND SUBJECTS: We examined whether daily food consumption costs (classified in quintiles) were associated with failing to meet at least three daily nutritional recommendations out of twenty (including fibre and nineteen micronutrients) in a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a cohort of 17,197 Spanish university graduates. Micronutrients and fibre intake were assessed with a validated 136-item FFQ. Average cost of food was calculated from official Spanish government data. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: As participants presented higher dietary energy cost from their diet, their intake of micronutrients increased significantly. Low dietary energy cost was associated with a higher likelihood of failing to meet three or more recommendations (P for trend <0.001 across quintiles of dietary cost), the association being stronger among female than male participants (P for interaction between sex and quintile of dietary energy cost <0.001).