When undergoing cancer treatment, it’s important to stay adequately nourished in order to avoid malnutrition. In our current public health challenge created by COVID-19, it may become necessary for cancer patients to isolate at home between cancer care appointments. Stocking up on nutritious foods is essential!

Check out these ideas on shelf-stable foods to include in your next grocery cart. Better yet, try grocery pick up, delivery, or ask a friend to pick up for you.


Canned Goods

Tomatoes (diced, whole, pureed, tomato sauce/paste). These can be used to make sauces and soups, or added to various recipes for added color, flavor, or boost of Vitamins A and C.

Beans (garbanzo, kidney, black beans, chili beans, pinto beans). These can be added to rice, pasta, soup, chili, or stew for added protein and fiber. Beans can also be used as an alternative protein source for just about any recipe. (Tip: When using as a meat alternative, season them just as you would meat for added flavor.)

Soups/Broth/Stock. You can throw together your own soup or have a few cans on hand for convenience.

Canned meat and fish (tuna, salmon, chicken). These keep for several months and can be used to make salads for sandwiches or in hot dishes.

Fruit and vegetables. Canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. They are picked at max ripeness and canned within hours of harvest. (Tip: If you are not able to purchase “no added sugar/salt” options, you can rinse your canned fruits and vegetables with water to reduce added sugar/salt as needed.)

Fresh Food

Eggs. Not just a breakfast food! Eggs are an inexpensive protein source that can be substituted or added to all sorts of meals.

Dairy. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are great for snacks and cooking. (Tip: Consider plain Greek yogurt for more versatility. Add honey and other yogurt toppings for a sweet treat, use as a substitute for sour cream, or use as a base for salad dressings and dips.)

Meat. Buy slightly greater quantities when on specials and freeze for later use.

Bread, bagels, English muffins. These freeze well and to thaw, just leave on the counter at room temperature.

Frozen Food

Plain Vegetables. Peas, mixed vegetables, peppers and onions, corn, broccoli, or cauliflower; ALL of which can be used as a side dish, added to casseroles/hot dishes, soups, pasta dishes, and rice bowls or stir-fries. (Tip: Adding additional vegetables to existing recipes will not only enhance the nutrition but will also add volume to create more servings.)

Meat/Seafood. Frozen options are often less expensive and have less potential for food waste from accidental expiration.

Shelf Stable

Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, yeast. You can bake items you may not want to make an additional trip to the store for, such as bread or other baked goods. (Tip: You can usually substitute up to 50% of an all-purpose flour ingredient with whole wheat flour for a nutritional boost to baked goods!)

Ready to eat cereals, oats, grits. Fortified with nutrients, they’re a good choice that will last a while on the shelf.

Powdered milk. You can use for cooking, cereal, baking, and can even use it as a protein booster in smoothies.

Peanut butter, nut butters, jam. A good source of protein, nut butters can be added to oats, sauces, smoothies, or a good old PBJ sandwich.

Rice, pasta, barley, lentils. These can serve as the base for all sorts of meals.


*This article has been adapted from “Stocking your Pantry” by Rust Nutrition Services 2020