cooking healthy vegetable dishes
leek and lettuce on a chopping board
leek and lettuce on a chopping board

Everyone’s hunger deserves to be satisfied with nourishing foods: Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, oats, rice, quinoa, corn, barley, beans, lentils, and fruits. 

Frozen fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and a great variety is available year round. Consider having a freezer in your facility.

Canned: Look for cans that list only one ingredient and are packed in water. Examples of these are cooked beans, diced or stewed tomatoes, corn, or pumpkin.

Bagged: Dry grains and legumes are easily stored and cook simply in water. They are rich in nutrients and supply energy without added fat.

Rice, corn grits, rolled or steel cut oats, quinoa, buckwheat, groats, and barley. Try to include plain wheat pasta, but also gluten free pastas made from rice, corn, or quinoa.

Dry beans come in a great variety: red, pink, black, chickpeas, navy, mung, soy beans, and lentils. They are an excellent source of energy and protein.

Milks: Unsweetened soy and almond milks are rich in calcium, low in fat, and do not need refrigeration. 

Nuts and seeds:

Raw nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios supplement a balanced diet though very high in fat. Look for small packages. Avoid nuts roasted in oils with added salt and sugars which makes them a very high calorie item. If you choose nut butters look for those with no added oils, sugar, or salt.


Condiments are essential to make the above foods into savory meals and some pantry visitors would welcome these ingredients. Consider including them among your pantry items.

Many condiments are less expensive sold in bulk, or come in glass or tin containers that can be stored for several months. They Include garlic paste, olives, capers, roasted red peppers, dry ground oregano, parsley, dill, ginger, mustard, black pepper, chipotle, cumin, fennel seeds, bottled lemon juice and vinegar.

Kitchen essentials:

Even the best intentioned cannot cook without a chopping board, a large sharp vegetable knife, measuring cups, bowls, a blender, basic stainless steel pots, pans, long handle spoons, and a ladle. Consider these for select patrons.


Packaged factory foods are made with cheap non nourishing ingredients like flour, sugar, oil, and salt. Breads, pastries, cakes, boxed cereals, salty soups, instant potatoes, pasta with cheese, pork and beans, canned fruit in syrup, jams, sweet drinks or juices they all pack empty calories, produce heartburn, elevate high cholesterol, worsen obesity, raise blood pressure, and block the use of insulin in diabetics.

In a pinch: Bagged and boxed factory foods have a long shelf life and a necessity for people without easy access to a kitchen. When selecting canned or packaged items for the pantry, avoid fillers like flour, sugars, corn syrup, oils, artificial flavors, colorings, and preservatives. Read the label and always make a nourishing choice.

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