Some parts of the country are beginning to feel that hint of change in the air as the first school bells chime. If your kids are heading back to the classroom, what to feed them for lunch, and every point of their busy days, is probably on your mind. That’s why we reached out to a registered dietitian and put together a list of Costco finds that supports critical tasks of every school kid: staying healthy, maintaining focus, and having fun.
“Moving into this school year with uncertainty, it’s important to establish healthful behaviors for the whole family,” says Bianca Tamburello, RD, CDN.
Tamburello is the former program coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s healthy eating programs at Boston Public Schools. For kids, in particular, she reminds us that “good nutrition [can] build strong immune systems and fuel successful school days.”
Can you guess which items on our Costco shopping list earn a gold star from this registered dietitian? (Related: Speaking of strong immune systems, don’t miss Popular Foods With More Vitamin C Than an Orange.)
Optimize your kid’s day from the moment they get out of bed. “Make the most of your breakfast by including whole grains, which are rich in brain-boosting B vitamins,” Tamburello advises.
Currently available online for $12.99, this 72-ounce box of Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix is a good example of how to start off the school year right. “Look for 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, and breakfast bars,” Tamburello suggests.
READ: One Major Effect of Eating Whole Grains, New Study Says
Another great source of whole grains? Oats! A key ingredient in Made Good Foods’ 24-count Granola Minis, they’re $3 off at Costco locations nationwide until Aug. 29, according to Instagram user @CostcoBuys.
An added bonus? Free from nuts, this product is safe for school. In fact, the company says all of its snacks are “free from the most common allergens.” (@CostcoBuys adds, “Our kids love these!”)
RELATED: The Secret Trick for Making Your Oatmeal Healthier
Ready to simplify breakfast? These egg white bites only take 90 seconds to cook. Right now, you can get four two-packs—that’s eight bites in total!—for $9.99 at Costco.
Curious as to how eggs can support your kid’s immunity? Then don’t miss One Major Effect of Eating Free-Range Eggs, Says Science.
If you’ve been leading your family to make more conscious, meat-free transitions, this plant-based option could be a fierce way to start the day. One Alpha plant-based breakfast sandwich packs 17 grams of protein, plus fiber and iron.
RELATED: One Major Effect of Eating a Plant-Based Diet, Says New Study
Watermelon plus sour apple equals yummy! (How’s that for some praiseworthy math?!)
A fruity addition to a lunch box or snack time, Del Monte’s Bubble Fruit has no artificial flavors or sweeteners. Sixteen-packs of this item occasionally go on sale for less than $0.50 a cup. “The popping boba literally just tastes like fruit juice,” one commenter says on Instagram.
Gogo Squeez Organic applesauce in four flavors makes nutrition easy-squeezy with zero added sugar or water, plus no dairy, gluten, or nuts. A 28-count variety box retails for $16.99.
RELATED: The Best & Worst Produce Buys at Costco
Made with all-natural ingredients, Wholly Guacamole Minis double as a delicious dip for carrots, cucumbers, and more veggies. Thus, this 20-count box of 2-oz. serving cups is the perfect addition to any bagged lunch!
As one of the top hydrating foods, cucumbers can actually help with children’s focus, Tamburello points out. If you’ve got a house full of avocado fans, check out this exclusive recipe for tuna-avocado boats that Sydney Greene, MS, RDN, shared with Eat This, Not That! on Instagram Live.
Good Foods dips and salads are another great pick. The brand’s single-serving, white meat chicken salads feature ingredients like cranberries, nuts, and tzatziki yogurt sauce. They’re relatively low in fat, high in protein, and not big on fake ingredients. This makes them great for stuffing pitas, as well as topping crackers, greens, or veggie coins.
Costco sells Pitaya Foods bite-sized frozen chunks of acai, avocado, and dragonfruit. They make great additions to overnight oats or morning smoothies. (Pitaya’s new aloe bites, which support hydration, recently sold out in days.)
Would a back-to-school grocery haul even be complete if you didn’t replenish the supply of peanut butter in your pantry?! No longer just a sandwich or celery spread, there are so many healthy things you can do with peanut butter—just ask some of our favorite dietitians!
You might not initially think of salmon as a school year go-to. Tamburello, who is also a dietitian on behalf of the Chilean Salmon Marketing Council, says, “Fatty fish, like salmon, is high in omega-3 fats, which are believed to be one of the most important nutrients for brain health and memory.”
Consider mini-bagels with a little cream cheese, similar to the concept shown here. (Don’t forget to add an ice pack to keep everything nice and chill until lunchtime!) As an alternative, if you’re concerned about eating raw food, heat in a skillet and toss with some mayo for salmon salad or add to scrambled eggs as a swap for ham.
RELATED: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Salmon
If you’re curious about Rip Van Wafels, it’s officially time to try them. These cookie thins are a kid-friendly pantry pick, with only 2 grams of sugar per two wafels. A new lemon flavor recently hit the market, plus the brand offers a gluten-free variety.
RELATED: 10 Popular Products Coming Back To Costco This Year
A great alternative to the cheese curls of—ahem—our generation’s childhood, Hippeas Organic Chickpea Snacks are $2 off at Costco until Aug. 29. Stock up on kid-friendly flavors like this vegan organic white cheddar.
Hey, we wouldn’t leave you without inspiring a little nostalgia, would we?! Goldfish crackers seem to never go out of style. Case in point: PARENTS just named Goldfish the “Best Family Fave” snack.
Plus, giving your kids a choice may have a positive impact, Tamburello points out. “At snack time, giving children two options provides them the power of choice and allows them to feel empowered,” she says. “The key is for parents to only offer foods that they feel good about to ensure kids are eating a balanced diet and make a healthy choice, whether it’s option A or B.”
For a choice your kids are likely to love, 45-count boxes of Goldfish are $3 off at Costco until Aug. 29.
If you’ve tried these, you know they’re definitely not the same fig snacks of eras past! Nature’s Bakery bars are hearty, wholesome snacks in fruity flavors you might love even more than your kids do. Hey, we wouldn’t judge you if you collapse with a pack of these and a cup of tea as soon as they’re out the door.
On nights when everybody’s racing in different directions and trying to grab a healthy bite in between, a frozen cauliflower crust pizza like Milton’s may be an easy solution.
If your kids have adventurous palates—or for a low-key, at-home date or friends’ night among adults—we recommend topping a cheese cauliflower crust pizza with fresh arugula, small tomato halves, and some chickpeas tossed in a light coating of cumin, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley flakes. Then you have one of the worthiest trends we’ve tried this summer: the salad pizza!
On a rushed morning, how about simply grabbing a grilled cheese sandwich and popping it in the toaster? The Toaster Grills sandwiches at Costco deliver just that.
Hail Chobani, the yogurt brand that tends to please just about every yogurt lover! Right now, you can snag a 20-count of 5-oz. Chobani containers on Costco’s website for $12.99.
Costco is selling 36-count packages of beloved Babybel online for $13.99, or just under $0.40 each.
Pretzels paired with hummus are a prime after-school snack, especially if you can sneak a few bites of chopped veggies in! Costco has 12-count boxes for $19.99.
Tru Fru’s fruit snacks are Costco fan favorites. The chocolate-covered raspberries, in particular, were voted the most popular chocolate snack in PARENTS‘ recent survey.
RELATED: One Major Effect of Drinking Cranberry Juice, New Study Says
Drinking plenty of water is another key to your child’s wellbeing this year, according to Tamburello. “Several studies suggest that dehydration makes us feel tired and makes it difficult to focus,” she says.
These self-filtered Brita bottles are easy for kids to carry to school, where they can stay hydrated in style. Also, Costco is selling Brita pitchers for your fridge for $9.00 off through Aug. 29.
RELATED: One Major Side Effect of Drinking From a Disposable Bottle, Says Science
For sandwiches, snacks, and so much more, ZipTop Reusable Containers could replace your family’s disposable baggies this school year. They’re free of harmful chemicals and safe to use in your microwave, freezer, or dishwasher.
ZipTop products also stand upright in your fridge, making them great for even your dinner leftovers like fall soups.
Here’s to a happy and healthy school year!
(Editor’s note: Though we aimed to meet the closest representation, some images may differ slightly from the actual products at Costco.)