Trying to figure out how to grocery shop for packed lunches? Look no further! These tips and lists will help you stock up with confidence.

Ideally, every lunch should have a protein, a fruit, a veggie, grain and usually some dairy. For non-meat eaters, the dairy is often also the protein. It’s not always possible to get every category in a lunch box but it is the goal and it makes for a well-balanced meal. 

To help you, I’ve created a handy grocery list in this post to fill your lunch box with. Simply grab an item from each category and you are good to go! I usually try to choose 3 items per category for good measure. 

Lunch-packing will soon become easier to accomplish than you initially thought … you may even find yourself getting more creative as time goes on!

Grocery Shop for Packed Lunches Checklist

Without further delay, here are my basic lists to help you stock your fridge for packing lunches: 


  • Whole wheat sandwich bread. You can also include other kinds of bread for variety such as rolls or biscuits, English muffins, or bagels.
  • Tortillas. These are great for quesadillas, burritos, wraps, and pinwheels.
  • Crackers
  • Snack crackers with an accompanying dip or spread. 
  • Granola bars. These are especially loved by kids as an alternative to granola or cereal bars. 


  • Sliced lunch meat such as turkey and ham, roast beef, pastrami, or salami. 
  • Blocks of cheese. Slice for sandwiches, cut in cubes for more of a snack box type lunch, or shred it for quesadillas, nachos, and burritos. 
  • Packaged snack cheeses such as cheese sticks.
  • Nut butter. Peanut butter, almond butter.  If you need to be nut-free then you can easily opt for a nut-free substitute such as SunButter (sunflower seed butter).
  • Yogurt. This can be in tubes, cups or big cartons. If you buy a big carton, it can be segmented into smaller resealable containers.

Fresh Fruit

  • Apples
  • Grapes 
  • Oranges 
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Berries (those in season are best) 
  • Any other seasonal and fresh fruits

Fresh Vegetables

Vegetables are often the most divisive category of food to include in a packed lunch for kids. While some kids gobble up all the veggie sticks and salads they are offered, others are more reluctant. Adding some yummy dip can help though. Here are some great snack-worthy veggies:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers 
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red and orange sweet bell peppers
  • Lettuce or other salad greens
  • Celery
  • Sugar snap peas

Condiments and Spreads

  • Jam or jelly or fruit spreads
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cream cheese

Other Snack Items

  • Cookies (preferably those with low sugar content)
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits — raisins, cranberries
  • Fruit sauce — applesauce pouches

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