I must admit I was hesitant when someone suggested I should try to live on a food parcel for a week.

Even though I have seen the awesome work of the Tauranga Community Foodbank - for whatever reason - I instantly had images of watery tinned spaghetti and tinned tomatoes flood my brain and the sight was not pretty.

But I was wrong. I was so very wrong.

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I got the full foodbank experience when I turned up at the foodbank's Gate Pā depot. I waited in the lobby while my vegetarian-friendly parcel was prepared and had my pick of the donated fresh produce on offer.

This food parcel is designed to provide three days of food for one person. Photo / Leah Tebbutt
This food parcel is designed to provide three days of food for one person. Photo / Leah Tebbutt

From piles of peaches to a fridge chockablock with bagged spinach, the room was bursting with nutritious veggies and fruits.

I picked out a bounty of fresh produce, including a bag of kale and a couple of capsicums.

Nicki wheeled out the parcel, which filled up a small trolley, and my eyes bulged. The quality and the quantity of the food provided was astounding.

In addition to the fresh produce, the items in the parcel included two loaves of bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, onions, frozen chips, biscuits, creamed corn, baked beans, canned spaghetti, canned beans, crispy noodles, tinned fruit, milk, eggs, salt, sugar, milk powder, tinned peas, deodorant, toilet paper, soap, dishwashing liquid, scorched almonds, shortbread, mini-cheesecakes, Weet-Bix, and a Kit-Kat placed like a cherry on top.

I think you get the picture.

The array of ingredients meant I could cook a variety of tasty and nutritious meals in addition to your typical "lazy meal".

Beans on toast? No problem.

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Want to get fancy and make shepherd's pie? Also possible.

My favourite meal was undoubtedly the corn fritters I whipped up using a foodbank recipe, with oven-roasted chips, cooked kale and tomato on the side.

Instead of ending my three days so hungry I could devour a horse, I have a newfound appreciation for the foodbank's exceptional work.

It shows how vital donations, like those given during the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Appeal, really are.

The success of the foodbank is a team effort.

The volunteers faithfully turn up and manager Nicki Goodwin does a fantastic job of running the ship.

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The only missing ingredient is generous donations from people like yourself.