Top Pantry Food Items Based on This Study!

A holistic working environment starts by meeting our basic needs. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,  the most basic need that motivates human behaviour is our physiological needs which is comprised of rest, warmth, water and food.  

In the context of an office,  an employee’s physiological needs can be translated to the breaks they take which cover “rest” and as for “food”, that would be the items in your office pantry.

Photo source: Simple Psychology 

At Supplycart, our pantry mantra is “full bellies, happy minds”. Having a well-stocked pantry can do wonders for your productivity.

We’ve researched the necessary items you need for your office pantry based on a study done by Ellyn Satter, a Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist. Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a study conducted by Satter talks about needs as well, but its focus lies in food.

Presenting Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs. Similar to Maslow, Satter’s model discusses how each level can motivate a behaviour. In this case, how it motivates eating behaviour and food management. Satter has broken down the hierarchy of food needs into six levels.

Working from the down up, Satter’s study has iterated that each level needs to be satisfied in order to move up to the next level and ultimately reach the peak of the pyramid.

To spare you some time of going through Satter’s model, we’ve summarized each level and most importantly, included food item examples so you can stock up your office pantry with them!

The following summary will talk about all six levels of Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs from the bottom most, level 1 to the apex of the model, level 6.

Level 1: Enough Food

What does it mean?

The first level, Enough Food stresses on the need to satisfy hunger. Since the main motivation is solely to address the notion of being hungry, the food eaten need not always be the healthiest as long as they make us full.

These foods are known as “energy dense foods” which consists of foods that are low in nutrients but high in calories.

Why low in nutrients you may ask? Because the main goal at this level is to satisfy hunger. So anything that makes you full regardless of its nutritional content counts as members of the enough food category.

Pantry item example

A pantry item we commonly eat as an easy fix for our inner “hunger games” would be instant noodles.

While instant noodles were probably a staple during your college days, it can be a staple pantry item in your office as well. We know how busy a work day can be and sometimes we don’t have the luxury of time to go out for lunch.

That’s where instant noodles come in to save the day. Just pour in hot water and add in seasoning and you have a lunch that can sustain you throughout the rest of the workday!

A quick pantry hack to make your cup of instant noodles more nutritious as suggested by Jenny Dang, RDN and author of eatyourdangveggies, is to add in frozen or canned vegetables into your noodles!

Level 2: Acceptable Food

What does it mean?

Now that your hunger pangs have been satisfied, you’re now able to move to the next level in Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs, which is “Acceptable Food”.

While the definition of Acceptable Food is still subjective, Satter discusses the issue of receiving food in socially acceptable manners. Further research of Satter’s model suggest Acceptable Food include foods that aren’t rotten and foods that an individual is not allergic to.

Although subjective, this level touches on the consumption frequency of items that fall under the Acceptable Food category. According to Satter, foods in the second level of the hierarchy are “continuously consumed from 2-3 times per week to 2-3 times per day”.

Pantry item example:

A pantry item constantly consumed that frequently? Coffee.

We’ve all heard the expression “but first, coffee”. Being a coffee-holic  is quite common when you’re hustling at the office.

Whether its a cup of java that you drink every morning to kick start your day or even supplementary sips  that keep you alert for the rest of the working hours, you can always count on a cup (or even two or three cups) to get you through your workday.

Level 3: Reliable, On-going Access to Food

What does it mean?

The third level of Satter’s Hierarchy, “Reliable, On-going Access to Food” may sound like a mouthful but it basically refers to the subject of food availability.

Pantry item example:

Food availability refers to the power of obtaining and re-obtaining a food item to plan for the next meal. An everyday example of a food item that belongs in this category would be bread.

Why does bread fall into the third level of Satter’s hierarchy? It’s because of its short shelf life. Your bread loaf normally comes with little tags that state the expiry date. Knowing when your pantry item expires allows you to plan for your future replenishing.

Level 4: Good-tasting Food

What does it mean?

It is important to reiterate that in order to move up from one level to the other, one must meet the needs in the previous levels. Thus, to get to level 4 in this hierarchy, the previous needs such as addressing hunger must be met.

Satter explains in her hierarchy of pantry needs that when hunger is addressed, an individual is able to choose food that can satisfy your taste buds.

Pantry item example:

Fruits are a great addition to your pantry. They’re filling, nutritious and tasty. Fruits are a great complement to your breakfast, a refreshing dessert for a post-lunch pick-me-up and a great snack when hunger pangs strike as your work day is about to end.

Level 5: Novel Food

What does it mean?

Admit it, sometimes if we eat the same thing over and over again we might get a little bored of it. When one reaches the level of Novel Food, odds are they’re probably tired of their favourite foods and look to venture into new foods and even experiment with how their usual staples are prepared.

Pantry item example:

An everyday item found in your pantry that you probably have for breakfast everyday is oats.

If you’re bored with the usual way oats is being prepped, there are multiple alternatives you can easily try out in your office pantry! From having overnight oats where you leave them in flavoured yoghurt of your choice or even creating a quick bowl of savory oats, there’s other ways you can enjoy oats for your morning breakfast.

Level 6: Instrumental Food

What does it mean?

When the apex of Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs is reached, one is able to enjoy rewarding food and “has food acceptance skills that are good enough to allow him or her to eat a variety of food”.

When one has the eating competency to accept food, it is equivalent to reaching the top most level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, which is self-actualization. Hence, the ability to accept food let’s one to opt for food items that can help them reach the end goal achieving a desired physical, cognitive or spiritual outcome.

Often, these so called “Instrumental Foods” are food items that one would find rewarding.

Pantry item example:

A classic example of a “feel good” and rewarding food item would be chocolate. It’s an accessible food item and can satisfy almost anyone’s sweet tooth!

Satter Summary

We hope you find our office pantry take on Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs useful to plan your next pantry purchase and #workhappy with a full and satisfied tummy!

We’d like to take Jenny Dang, RDN who has so kindly given us her take on Ellyn Satter’s study! Check out her journey as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on her blog at and her yummy and easy meals (incredibly funny puns) on her Instagram account!

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