OBJECTIVE To analyze the simultaneous effects of sociodemographic variables and time on each food group contribution to total Portuguese elderly household food availability. DESIGN Four cross sectional Portuguese Household Budget Surveys were used. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), using a general linear model (GLM), was applied to analyze the simultaneous effects of sociodemographic variables and time. SETTING Portuguese population. SUBJECTS Nationally representative samples of households with members aged ≥ 65 years were selected and categorized as solitary elderly female, solitary elderly male, or couple (one elderly female and one elderly male). Samples included 1,967 households in 1989-1990, 2,219 households in 1994-1995, 2,533 households in 2000-2001 and 2,441 households in 2005-2006. RESULTS The simultaneous effects of sociodemographic variables and time were significant for all food groups (P<0.001). The highest contribution for the total household food availability was found for cereals, potatoes, alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages and fruits. The effects were large for "household food availability" and medium for "elderly household type", "urbanization degree", "income", "food expenses" and "eating out expenses". Solitary elderly male households had the highest proportion of cereals and alcoholic beverages, whilst solitary elderly female households had higher availability of milk/milk products and fruits. Households located in urban areas had higher contribution of milk/milk products while rural, had higher contribution of potatoes. CONCLUSIONS The simultaneous effect of the studied variables on food group contribution to total household food availability can be considered when addressing dietary recommendation for providing an insight into the motivations associated with food purchases.