In many areas, the new school year is upon us or nearly upon us. That means that in addition to all the usual back-to-school shopping for pencils, notebooks, and backpacks, many parents are also thinking about lunch.
If your student buys lunch at school, you may not have to think much about it. If your student packs a lunch from home, then part of your daily routine includes filling the lunch box or lunch bag. That means keeping packable lunch items stocked in your fridge and pantry.
Aldi is a great place to get food for school lunches. The following list is not exhaustive but includes some of our favorite go-items for the lunch bag. These items are also all Regular Buys, which means Aldi sells them all year.
- Never Any! lunch meat. If you want meat without added preservatives, this is it. It’s a staple in our refrigerator for school lunches or for summer picnics and road trips. Don’t forget condiments like mayo and mustard.
- Northern Catch or Fit & Active tuna salad and cracker kits. Perfect if you don’t have access to a refrigerator and need something shelf-stable. Each individual-serving kit contains a small can of tuna salad and a small package of crackers, plus a plastic “spoon.”
- Brookdale chicken salad and cracker kits. Sold alongside Aldi’s tuna salad and cracker kits, these are shelf-stable and contain a little can of chicken salad, a cracker packet, and a plastic “spoon.”
- Never Any! Lunch Kits. The Aldi version of Lunchables. Enough said.
- Northern Catch Tuna. Aldi sells canned tuna in several varieties under its Northern Catch private label. We like the sustainable skipjack tuna. Great for making tuna salad for sandwiches or for dipping crackers in.
- Peanut Delight or Simply Nature Peanut Butter. A lunchbox staple, especially if your kid likes PB & J sandwiches and your school doesn’t have restrictions on students bringing peanut products to lunch. You can find several types of peanut butter at Aldi, including natural varieties. Aldi also usually carries some peanut-alternative spreads if allergies are a concern.
- Specially Selected Premium Fruit Spread. To go with your PB & J sandwich. Strawberry is our favorite, and the raspberry is good, too.
- L’Oven Fresh Whole Grain White Bread. This hasn’t always been in stock lately at our favorite local store, but when it’s available it’s a nice healthier alternative to regular white bread.
- Little Salad Bar Salad Bowls. These individual bowls contain salad, toppings, dressing, and a fork. We especially like the Chicken Caesar Salad, but the Santa Fe Style and the Cranberry Walnut Salad are good, too.
- Reggano Classic Pasta Salad or Ranch & Bacon Pasta Salad. These are the Aldi version of name-brand Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad pasta salad boxed kits. My family absolutely loves the Bacon & Ranch Pasta Salad, and when packed in a lunch bag with an ice pack or stashed in a fridge, it makes a nice main course or a side. Add some nutrition by tossing in diced veggies such as tomatoes or cucumber.
If You Have a Microwave or Thermos:
- Cheese Club Express Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. This is Aldi’s take on name-brand Kraft Easy Mac. These individual servings of mac and cheese can be made easily if you have access to water and a microwave.
- Bremer Hot Stuffed Sandwiches. Generic Hot Pockets. Good if you have access to a microwave.
- Kirkwood Fully Cooked Nuggets or Kirkwood Dino Nuggets. If your child has a thermos or has access to a microwave, these are a nice changeup from sandwiches.
- Simply Nature Apple Unsweetened Squeezable Fruit Blend. This is applesauce in a portable pouch. I like these pouches because they help pickier eaters get a little fruit in their diets. They also last a long time in the pantry, so I can stock up and always have them ready for lunches and picnics.
- Fresh fruit. From apples and oranges and bananas to strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple, the produce section at Aldi has all the fruit you could want for the lunch box. The cotton candy grapes are one of our favorites.
- Fresh vegetables. Aldi produce includes baby carrots, whole carrot sticks, celery sticks, mini snacking sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, avocados, and all kinds of other goodies for the lunch box. Throw in some Aldi ranch dressing in a Tupperware container for dip.
- Happy Farms String Cheese. Get a serving of dairy with these classic cheese sticks. Named an Aldi Fan Favorite in 2021.
- Millville Chewy Granola Bars. Available in various flavors such as chocolate chip.
- Millville Fruit & Grain Cereal Bars. These soft and chewy bars come with a variety of fruity fillings like strawberry and blueberry.
- Clancy’s Wavy Potato chips. Your classic potato chip.
- Clancy’s Kettle Chips. When you want chips with a bit more crunch.
- Clancy’s Snack Combo. This large bag contains a little of everything in individual-serving-sized bags that fit in the lunch box: original, barbecue, and sour cream and onion potato chips; the Aldi version of nacho cheese and ranch Doritos; and cheese curls.
- Clancy’s Cheese Curls or Clancy’s Cheese Puffs. While we still think name-brand Cheetos are the best, these are surprisingly close and taste pretty good, for a fraction of the price.
- Clancy’s Cheese Flavored or Ranch Flavored Tortilla Chips. These are the Aldi version of Doritos. The nacho cheese-flavored chips are almost indistinguishable from Doritos, while the ranch ones are good on their own but don’t quite compare to Doritos.
- Clancy’s White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn. This is delicious, light, and so tempting. It was listed as a Product of the Year winner in 2021.
- Clancy’s Stackerz. Like Pringles or Lays Stax, but cheaper.
- Savoritiz Mini Cheese or Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers. The Aldi take on Ritz Bitz crackers. These never last long in my house, and the cheese ones are especially good.
- Savoritz 4 Kids Peanut Butter Toast Crackers. These little square sandwich crackers are sold wrapped in individual packs that are perfect for dropping in a lunch bag.
- Savoritz Parmesan Crisps. If you want something with the crunch of a cracker but without all the carbs, these are little circles of baked cheese. They’re great on their own for a snack, or put them on top of a salad for extra crunch. These were dubbed an Aldi Fan Favorite in 2020.
- Simply Nature Coconut Cashew Crisps. When you want something sweet that’s healthy, these little crisps are a great option.
- Benton’s Peanut Butter Filled Cookies and Caramel Coconut Fudge Cookies. These are the Aldi version of Girl Scout cookies. Aldi also used to sell imitation Thin Mints, but unfortunately they discontinued them a couple of years ago.
- Benton’s Double Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. Aldi Oreos. They’re good.
- Benton’s Fig Bars. These are a generic version of Fig Newtons.
- Nature’s Nectar Juice Pouches. These are off-brand Capri Sun drinks. Available in several flavors. Our kids like them.
- PurAqua Sparkling Frost. These small-ish bottles of sparkling, artificially sweetened juice can be a fun occasional treat.