back to school

10 Costco Snacks I’m Buying for School Lunches (They’re All $10 or Less)

updated Sep 7, 2022
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Credit: Alastair Wallace

Costco excels in a number of arenas, but selling groceries for less than $10 a pop isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Buying in bulk means you are often paying less per ounce or per package, but with the oversized offerings your receipt totals still add up quickly.

I noticed my grocery budget shrinking as I bought back-to-school essentials, but I still needed to stock up for school lunches, so I challenged myself to find budget-friendly school snacks on a recent visit to Costco. I was surprised both at the variety and number of choices I found. Here are 10 snacks from Costco that won’t break the bank.

Credit: Patty Catalano

1. Costco Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies, $9.99 for 60

Make the transition back to the classroom a bit easier with a sweet treat. These mini chocolate chip cookies from the bakery are the perfect size for lunch-box desserts. Each box contains 60 cookies, so there’s enough to share.

Credit: Patty Catalano

2. Stonyfield Organic Strawberry Probiotic Smoothie, $9.89 for 12 (6-ounce) bottles

Packing a lunch that provides enough protein for the school day can be a challenge. These yogurt smoothies have you covered with 6 grams of protein per bottle. I pair them with waffles and fruit for a breakfast-inspired lunch box.

Credit: Patty Catalano

3. Galbani Organic String Cheese, $8.99 for 24

String cheese is on my grocery list every week, so imagine my surprise to find it at Costco! Make opening the package easier for little kids by peeling back the plastic slightly before packing it in the lunch box.

Credit: Patty Catalano

4. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats, $8.99 for 70 ounces

Who says cereal is just for breakfast? Frosted Mini Wheats are crunchy, slightly sweet, and a good alternative to standard snacks. Pack them on their own or combine them with dried fruit and animal crackers for a DIY snack mix.

Credit: Patty Catalano

5. Calbee Harvest Snaps Baked Green Pea Snacks, $7.89 for 20 ounces

Peas are one of the only veggies my first-grader will eat these days, so I didn’t think twice before tossing a bag of Harvest Snaps into my cart. While you won’t fool a kid into thinking they’re a potato chip, they are crispy, slightly salty, and fun to eat.

Credit: Patty Catalano

6. Boom Chicka Pop Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn, $5.99 for 25 ounces

This snack is perfect for the kid who can’t decide between salty and sweet. The kettle corn comes in a big bag, so you will have to dish out individual portions when packing for school.

Credit: Patty Catalano

7. Chifles Plaintain Chips, $6.99 for 20 ounces

This well-known brand of plantain chips are crisp and salty. It’s also another snack packed in a large bag, but I’ll take the minor extra effort it takes to split the big bag into individual servings to save some cash.

Credit: Patty Catalano

8. Dole Mandarin Oranges in 100% Juice, $9.39 for 16 (4-ounce) cups

This classic lunch-box snack has been a winner since my oldest was learning how to feed herself. The oranges are sweet and ready-to-go, so they’re perfect to keep on hand for weeks when I miss my weekly produce run.

Credit: Patty Catalano

9. Mariani Organic California Pitted Dates, $8.89 for 2.5 pounds

Dates get pegged as an adults-only appetizer, but they’re kid-friendly too! Cut a small slit in the center and stuff with chocolate chips, or use them to make date bars or easy date caramels.

Credit: Patty Catalano

10. Heavenly Hunks Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Gluten-Free Cookies, $9.99 for 22 cookies

Part granola bar and part cookie, these hunks are perfect lunch-box fare. Each piece is packed with oatmeal, shredded coconut, and dark chocolate chunks.

What are your favorite snacks to buy from Costco on a budget? Share your finds in the comments.