Back to School Grocery Guide


As summer draws to a close and the new school year begins, parents are busy shopping for new school supplies, apparel, and electronics their children need for the year ahead. While all of the above are essential for the back-to-school shopping lists, so too are the foods children need to nourish them for the long school days ahead. Whether or not children buy lunch at school, it’s best for parents to stock up on nutrient-rich foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that kids of all ages can grab and go as they’re running out the door to catch the bus or racing from one after-school activity to the next. Below are some groceries to include on the next back-to-school shopping spree. Keep in mind to get a variety of foods that offer protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates that will keep children energized and satiated throughout the day.

Whole grain cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Cereal is easy to portion into snack-size resealable bags, which can be prepared in advance for kids who don’t wake up in time for a sit-down breakfast.

Individual servings of low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese often offer protein and calcium (look for at least 5 grams of protein and 100 milligrams of calcium per serving), two nutrients that school-age children need. Great for on-the-go breakfasts, snacks, or to add to a lunch cooler.

Hard-boiled eggs, edamame, canned beans, sliced cheese, nut butters, grilled chicken breast, and sliced turkey and ham are all sources of protein that are relatively quick and easy to prep and can be added to sandwich bread or salads for lunch.

Ready-to-go salad bowls, like Fresh Express Gourmet Café Creative Classics Chicken Caesar Salad, are well-balanced and quick meal choices that are full of flavor and won’t take any time to prep.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are easy and nutrient-rich. Keep a variety on hand, including some that are mess-free like bananas and apples, which are easy to throw in a lunch bag without worrying about spoilage. Over the weekend, children can help slice up veggies like carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, which make a nutritious side for lunch or after-school snack.

Single serve dips like hummus, nut butters, and guacamole are portable and just the right size for a snack. Pair them with sliced fruit and vegetables or whole grain crackers.

Trail mix fixings like nuts, dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips, can be portioned out and packed in resealable bags. Some fruit and nut cereal bars that are not too high in added sugar are also easy to throw in the backpack and snack on between classes and activities.

Reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Find out where you can purchase Fresh Express Gourmet Cafe Salads by using our Store Locator Tool.

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express

Find your favorite Salad Swap recipes here.