Costco Products That Were Practically Made For School Lunches
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Costco Products That Were Practically Made For School Lunches

Sep 06, 2023

It's that time of year again. The time for early-morning drop-off lines, bus stop waiting, the sound of the school bell echoing in the air ... and, of course, lunch packing. And all the parents out there who are currently developing grocery lists to stock their pantries with back-to-school food items that can easily be shoved into their kids' lunch boxes should look no further than Costco Wholesale.

The world's second-largest retailer is not only the top spot for bulk toiletries, top-of-the-line grills, and travel packages — it is also a paradise for parents with school-aged children. Stocked top to bottom with chips, lunch meats, cheeses, nut butters, muffins, breads, yogurts, and the like, the warehouse is full of delicious, edible items to keep a hungry kid happy. Costco's Kirkland brand provides a plethora of convenient, pre-packaged, and nutritious options for your child's lunches. Here are some Costco products that were practically made for school lunches.

Peanut butter and pretzels is a classic sweet-and-salty combination that kids (and let's be honest, adults) go crazy for. But the snack doesn't just taste scrumptious — in addition to making your taste buds sing, the treat is a wonderful option for energy replenishment for active kids who've just come from the schoolyard, track practice, or gym class.

But if you don't feel like digging out spoonfuls of runny peanut butter from the giant jar in your pantry and then dumping individual pretzels into a food container first thing in the morning during the school day rush, there's good news: As a Costco shopper, you don't have to. Kirkland Peanut Butter Pretzels are neatly formed, pillow-shaped pretzel nuggets with the peanut butter already stuffed inside so that you can get all the benefits of the delicious snack in a mess-free package — without having to spend any time making it. Just try not to eat too many yourself and ruin your breakfast when you're prepping the lunch box, because trust us — it can be hard to stop.

A granola bar is the ultimate on-the-go snack. Nearly endless combinations of additions like oats, honey, nuts, dried fruits, or peanut butter are rolled together, shaped, and packaged up in a plastic wrapper — ready to pry open and be consumed in an instant. And with the oats which make up the bulk of the product's composition providing a good burst of fiber, granola bars can make for a nutritious, quick, mess-free addition to the lunch bag. Of course, Costco makes its very own delicious, chocolate-chip-heavy snack bar: the Kirkland Soft & Chewy Granola Bar. The product's pleasantly gooey texture, delightfully sweet taste, and transportability are sure to please both ravenous kids and busy parents alike.

What makes Kirkland's take on the popular snack even more attractive is the product count. While most boxes of granola bars tend to come in sets of six or twelve — maybe 24 if you're lucky — the Kirkland Soft & Chewy Granola Bars come in a whopping box of 64. At one per day, that's over two months' worth of consistent lunchtime sides for around $11.99. Price varies by location, of course, but we'd say the math checks out.

Trail mix is often associated with more grown-up activities like hiking and backpacking, but why shouldn't it be a go-to for school kids as well? After all, the physical and mental energy it takes to get through a full day of classes is nothing to scoff at. And since, per Northwestern Medicine, nuts have been associated with supporting stronger memory function, it makes sense to send your little scholar with a snack containing handfuls of brain-happy ingredients. Trail mix generally contains multiple different kinds of nuts, providing both proteins and needed fats, as well as raisins and chocolate — often in the form of chocolate chips or M&M's — for some delicious sugar.

But if you don't want to be digging in the recesses of your pantry trying to locate every kind of nut or dried fruit to throw together into a decent trail mix for your kid at 6 a.m. this school year, consider Kirkland's pre-made Trail Mix Snack Packs to keep in the cupboard instead. Each pack is two ounces of satisfying peanuts, almonds, cashews, and chocolate nibbles in two different forms, available in a box of 28 in Costco's snack aisle. Next time you walk by, just say yes to the life-giving, chocolatey energy mix. Your kid will thank you.

Dark chocolate and sea salt is a combo straight out of heaven, and Kirkland obviously knows it. With its signature Nut Bars, it introduces this beautiful pairing within a healthy, protein-packed granola bar. Each one is jammed full of chopped pecans, almonds, and cashews held together by a bed of dark chocolate and topped with sprinkled sea salt and additional chocolate drizzle. Is your mouth watering yet? Your child definitely will be excited when they open their lunch to find the nutty, sweet surprise waiting for them.

If being pre-packaged and complete with 5 grams of protein weren't enough to convince you to include the Nut Bars in your kid's meals this school year, here's one more plus: the chocolate. According to University Health News, chocolate is a proven mood booster. It makes you feel more relaxed and reduces feelings of anxiety as well as negative symptoms associated with depression. Considering how challenging school can be for kids of all ages, the little burst of positivity that the bit of chocolate at the base of a Kirkland Nut Bar can provide might be just the pick-me-up they need to get through a tough day.

There's nothing that says "I love you" quite like making your little one a sandwich for their lunchbox. Every slice of cheese and layer of meat or spoonful of fresh jelly and spread of peanut butter is executed carefully and specially, made with your child's unique needs, tastes, and preferences in mind. And sometimes, it's nice to switch things up by reaching for a different vessel than the same old wheat bread when constructing your child's Nutella sandwich.

Cue the Butter Croissants, creations of the Costco Bakery. Large enough to hold all your little student's favorite fillings and flaky enough to add a whole other textural element to excite their taste buds, these popular croissants are available in packs of twelve in the Bakery section. And if you aren't sure you can get enough sandwiches made before the croissants begin to go stale on the counter, never fear; the pastries freeze well. Just slip them into an airtight plastic bag and pop them in the ice box. When you're feeling it's time for another surprise croissant sandwich, just pull one out the night before and let it defrost while you sleep. It'll be ready to be stuffed and sent to school with your little one the following morning.

Somewhere in England a couple hundred years ago, someone (a parent, we can't help but wonder?) had the idea to bake a tray of sweet biscuits into the shape of animals for the first time, and the world never looked back. Stauffer's was the first company in America to begin making them in 1871. Since those early days, plenty of other companies have hopped on board, constructing the recognizable edible giraffes, horses, and hippos that delight children of all ages.

This includes Costco, which has joined the long list of companies offering the cookie-like crackers with its Kirkland Organic Animal Crackers. Shaped into likable animals such as gorillas, bears, and elephants (but no kangaroos), Kirkland's version makes for a fun, easy, and delicious sweet treat for a child's lunch. Perhaps the most attractive thing about this particular product is the sheer amount you receive upon purchase — the giant plastic container it comes packaged in is 4 pounds. Providing a portion of about a handful a day, a single purchase at around $13.49 is bound to last a good chunk of the school year ... that is, assuming you yourself don't catch on to how good they are and start snacking on them, too. The crackers might not last quite as long in that case — but, given how delicious they are, it might just be worth it.

Applesauce is a consistently popular snack among kids. In its simplest form, the invigorating, smooth treat really is just boiled-down apples — however, many brands have made it much less simple by dumping in large amounts of added sugars or artificial sweeteners. This often holds concerned parents back from offering applesauce to their kids more often, and given that the snack, when prepared properly, has much of the same nutritional value as fresh apples, this is a shame. Thankfully, we have some good news for Costco-shopping parents: Kirkland has developed its very own, healthier applesauce option. The Kirkland Organic Applesauce pouches, which come in a bulk 24-count box, contain zero added sugars.

Just 8 grams of natural sugars derived from organic apples are in each one of the Costco applesauce packets, making the smooth, fruity paste a healthy and enjoyable treat for kids at lunchtime. And because they are packaged in squeezable pouches, convenience is maximized — your young one can simply twist the lid and drink away. No need to spend the rest of the day fretting over whether or not you remembered to pack your kindergartner a spoon.

Fresh blueberries can often be a difficult thing to include in a lunchbox. Leaky and smooshy after they become warm or jostled about, they can become unpalatable pretty quickly, bleeding out into surrounding foods in the container and causing the other items to become soggy. But with the teeny-tiny fruits that begin to burst forth on bushes around the country every year in late spring being such powerful sources of antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, and memory-boosting benefits, skimping out on packing them for your child for the duration of the school year simply because of logistical difficulties seems less than fair (via Healthline).

But here's the wonderful thing; you don't have to eat the berries fresh to deliver the same health benefits to your child. Dried fruit is also incredibly nutritious, with the levels of vitamins and minerals remaining nearly exactly the same as with its fresh counterpart — but without the potential for being squished in transition. Costco, with its Kirkland Whole Dried Blueberries, offers a 20-ounce resealable bag of delicious dried fruit. Rip it open and drop a quick handful into a baggie, and you're sending your kid off to school with all the brain-and-body boosting benefits of fresh summer blueberries. Go ahead, let yourself feel like the parent of the year. You've earned it.

We've all come across the nut section in the snack aisle at Costco and seen the gigantic stacked bags of almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts looming over us. And while nuts are an incredible snack in terms of both taste and nutritional aspects, providing ample protein for brain functioning and necessary healthy fats for maintaining cholesterol levels and supporting heart health, those giant bags can feel a little intimidating if you don't have plans to build a charcuterie-style grazing table for a party or bake a hundred pecan pies for a family reunion (via the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

If you do not want to purchase the gargantuan bag of nuts but still want to use them in your kid's lunches on occasion, there's another, lesser-known size option for consumers. Kirkland Snacking Nuts are a 30-pack of three different kinds of nuts in convenient 1.6 oz packages. Ten bags of peanuts, ten of almonds, and ten of cashews are portioned out and individually packaged for on-the-go snacking — or lunch box packing. So don't let nagging thoughts of "Would we really eat all that?" preclude you from throwing delicious, nutritious nuts into your cart during your next Costco run. Just reach for the more manageable Snacking Nuts.

Steak and school lunch is not a typical pairing, to put things lightly. A slab of beef is not something we envision when we picture packing our kids lunches because typically, we are reaching for something that doesn't need a ton of refrigeration, prep work, or a knife and a fork to eat. With steak filling all three of those boxes, it basically becomes a no-go for a child's lunchroom dining experience — which is a bit disappointing when you consider the health benefits the occasional indulgence in beef can provide. Not only does it come with whopping amounts of protein, but it is also an important source of iron — a critical mineral for developing children that aids in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to other vital organs and the storage of oxygen in the muscles themselves, per the Mayo Clinic.

So while a ribeye or a New York strip hot off the grill might not be a feasible option for inclusion in your child's Monday morning lunchbox, Costco's Kirkland is swooping in to save the day yet again with a dried beef option. With Kirkland's Extra Thick Steak Strips, you'll find yourself with a bag of resealable sliced top round steak that has been cured and dried — no fork and knife required. Your child's taste buds, as well as their bodies, will thank you for the occasional surprise of tasty, iron-heavy beef strips in place of their usual sandwich.

Arguably the most consistent kid-approved protein out there in the culinary world is cheese. Whether it's cheese slices, cheese sticks, or cheese cubes, it seems like kids of all ages can devour it by the pound. And really, that's not a bad thing. Cheese, after all, is dairy, and dairy — with its amplified levels of protein, calcium, and vitamin D — is incredibly important for bone development in children, per Utah State University. In fact, HealthyChildren.org reports that between the ages of 9 and 18, a human being's need for calcium is the highest it will ever be in their lifetime. Getting the proper amount of calcium while young sets the stage for healthy, strong bones for the rest of a person's life, so it's important that as parents, we help to ensure our children are getting an adequate amount.

Kirkland Cheese, Fruit, and Nut Packs help make this a little easier. A box contains 16 snack packs each filled with a mix of dried fruits, cashews, or almonds, and — the best part — cubes of cheddar, all packaged individually for your child's consumption. Each one delivers 150 milligrams of calcium. Pulling out the massive cheese block and cutting individual slices while simultaneously making coffee, signing permission slips, and shoving binders into your kids' backpacks is a thing of the past. Make this one thing a little easier on yourself.