back to school

18 Costco Groceries I’m Buying for Easy School Lunches

published Aug 12, 2023
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Exterior of Costco
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Costco is where a lot of us stock up on groceries for weeknight dinners, but did you know that it’s also a great spot to grab items for packing lunch boxes too? Whether this is the first year you’re packing school lunches for the family or you’re a seasoned pro, Costco has you covered.

In my part of the South we’ve been back to school for a few weeks now. I’ve already conquered school supply shopping and those first early wake-ups, but the biggest hurdle has centered on the cafeteria conundrum. After a few hits and several misses (let’s just say it involved soggy lettuce and no fork), I made a quick pivot during my latest Costco run that has made all the difference. Learn from my mistakes and stock up on these 18 Costco groceries before school starts.

Credit: Patty Catalano

1. Kirkland Signature Organic Chunky Guacamole, $12.99 for 16 (2.5-ounce) cups

Pop these pre-portioned cups into the lunch box with tortilla chips and shredded cheese for build-your-own nachos. Or you can serve it with bread for lunchtime avocado toast. Kids also love eating it just as a dip with baby carrots, bell pepper strips, or pretzel sticks.

Credit: Patty Catalano

2. Yoplait Go-Gurt Simple, $7.69 for 32 tubes

Fruity yogurt squeezers are a hit with kids of all ages. Store these in the freezer before packing and they will thaw just enough to eat by lunchtime.

Credit: Patty Catalano

3. Roasted Chicken & Swiss Roller Tray, $6.99 per pound for about 2.5 pounds (about 12 rolls)

Making sandwiches every morning leaves a mess on my countertop. These party platter chicken and Swiss roll-ups, however, are pre-portioned and lunch-box ready.

Credit: Patty Catalano

4. Mini Bell Peppers, $4.49 for 1.5 pounds

Are veggies the lone item left behind after everything else has been eaten? Try adding these sweet and colorful miniature bell peppers to the mix. Some kids will crunch them whole, while others prefer them sliced into rings.

Credit: Patty Catalano

5. Sugar Bowl Bakery Brownie Bites, $6.99 for 2 pounds (about 32 brownies)

Whether it’s the first thing your kid eats or the last bite before leaving the cafeteria, dessert is the best part of lunch. These bite-sized brownies are a chewy chocolate treat that any kid would love to find waiting for them at lunchtime. Plus, the brownies are individually wrapped, so they’re a natural choice for class parties and celebrations.

Credit: Patty Catalano

6. Busseto Foods Bite Size Salami and Provolone Cheese, $ 11.99 for 8 (3-ounce) packages

What’s marketed to adults as a snack is the perfect kid-size portion of protein for school lunch. They’re perfect for mornings when you’re running late. Simply toss into the lunch box with an apple or clementine and make a mad dash for the school bus.

Credit: Patty Catalano

7. Bare Organic Apple Chips, $16.99 for 20 (0.5-ounce) bags

Didn’t make it to the grocery store to restock fresh fruit? That’s where these chips come in! Apples are sliced thin and baked until crisp and crunchy.

Credit: Patty Catalano

8. BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese, $9.99 for 24 (1-ounce) packages

Move over, string cheese: There’s a new mozzarella in town! Itty-bitty rounds of fresh mozzarella are perfectly portioned in easy-open packages.

Credit: Patty Catalano

9. Made Good Granola Minis, $11.99 for 24 pouches

Nut-free granola bar options are inexplicably hard to find, and ones that make little mess are practically nonexistent. Made Good’s granola bites are everything we’ve been looking for, plus they’re fun to eat.

Credit: Patty Catalano

10. Meiji Hello Panda Chocolate Cookie, $9.59 for 32 bags

Complete their lunch boxes with a perfectly portioned sweet treat. These delicate cookies are crisp and filled with a chocolate cream. There’s just enough in each package to make lunch feel special without initiating an after-lunch sugar crash.

Credit: Patty Catalano

11. Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread, $5.39 for 2 (20-ounce) loaves

Your kid may crave consistency during the transition back to school, and the best way to support them is at lunchtime. Packing their favorite sandwich — made on this soft 100% whole-wheat bread — helps kids focus on connecting with classmates instead of worrying about new foods in the lunch box.

Credit: Patty Catalano

12. Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites, $14.79 for 10 bites

If your kid begs to go to Starbies after school, they’ll flip when they see what you’ve found for lunch this year. These egg bites are full of flavor, thanks to bacon and Gruyère cheese. Serve them warm for breakfast or as after-school snacks, or tuck them in the lunch box if your kid doesn’t mind them chilled.

Credit: Patty Catalano

13. Takis Fuego, $17.99 for 46 bag

Older kids can’t get enough of these spicy rolled tortilla snacks. The crunchy chips are coated in a tongue-tingling chili-lime seasoning that’s so good it’s hard to stop once you start.

Credit: Patty Catalano

14. Chomps Original Beef Sticks, $16.99 for 12 sticks

Making sure lunch provides enough protein to keep your kid full and ready to learn is a challenge. At least it was, until I started including my favorite brand of jerky. Each Chomps stick has nine grams of protein, comes individually wrapped, and needs no refrigeration — there’s nothing more I could ask for in a lunch-box snack. Pick from either the original or jalapeño beef variety at Costco.

Credit: Patty Catalano

15. Hillshire Farms Lunch Meat Variety Pack, $14.99 for 3 (1-pound) packages

This lunch-box pick needs no introduction. Save yourself from a mid-week dash to the grocery store by stocking up on lunch meat from Costco. You’ll get one pound each of honey ham, smoked turkey breast, and oven-roasted turkey breast. The pouches are re-sealable to keep the slices fresh between sandwich-making sessions.

Credit: Patty Catalano

16. Kirkland Signature Organic Applesauce Pouches, $11.49 for 24 pouches

Kids from pre-K on up will love these pouches. The applesauce contains no added sugars and is made from organic apples, yet it’s still among the most affordable fruit pouches Costco carries.

Credit: Patty Catalano

17. Fresh Additions Chicken Breast Bites, $14.99 for 10 (3.2-ounce) packages

Out of lunch-box ideas? Pick up these bite-sized pieces of seasoned and cooked chicken breast to change the way you think about packing lunch. Serve with ketchup or your kid’s favorite dipping sauce, tuck into a pita with some sliced vegetables, or add to bowtie pasta salad for extra protein.

Credit: Patty Catalano

18 The Froot Thief Real Fruit Whips, $9.99 for 20 packs

Trade your usual gummies for the real fruit whips from The Froot Thief. They come in strawberry and mixed berry flavors, and contain one cup of fruit per pack. The fruity whips are free from all major allergens, so they’re not only great for the cafeteria, but for also classroom celebrations as well.

What are your favorite Costco back-to-school buys? Share your picks in the comments.