Arrange Your Food

By the end of this step, you will know the best practice for organizing the foods in your choice pantry. Looking ahead: Step 3 will go over designing the pantry space to store the food.

Stock your pantry the MyPlate food group way.

Imagine the pantry set up like your favorite grocery store. It’s bright, colorful, and easy to navigate. Foods are grouped into like items and you can gather the products you need to build balanced meals. Let’s review how to make that happen.

Build a balanced pantry!

A balanced pantry provides neighbors with a variety of foods that work to improve and maintain their health. It also models how a balanced meal should be prepared. The MyPlate is a great visualization for building a balanced plate and pantry. Let’s dig into the food groups.

To organize foods, we recommend using the MyPlate food groups as well as a few general groups.

These are:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • protein
  • grains
  • dairy
  • snacks
  • pantry staples
  • a single section for meals, soups, & entrees


What are our key goals for a balanced pantry?

  • Transition half of your pantry to be fruits and vegetables.
  • Incorporate whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy in the rest of your pantry.
  • A balanced diet includes food from each food group. Make a variety of foods available within each food group.
  • Encourage guests to try something new or to get a variety of different colored food items.
  • When determining how many items a neighbor can choose from a food group, make sure there is a balance of food from the five main food groups. (We will guide you how to do this later in the training.)
  • Keep in mind, all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Most of the pantry should include foods that fit into the five main food groups (Note: foods in the “Meals, Soups, & Entrees” category tend to include more than one food group. They may have grains and vegetables or protein and vegetables, so they fit into that five-food group category as combination foods.). It’s okay to have some snacks and desserts. Just make sure they are not more abundant than the primary food groups.
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