Essential Lunch Box Shopping list

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Everything that you need to stock up in your kitchen to make packing lunch easy.

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The essential lunchbox shopping list

When you start packing school or work lunches, you’ll realize that having a few go-to ingredients in your kitchen makes packing lunch through the week possible.

This carefully put-together shopping list will ensure that your pantry & refrigerator are stocked with ingredients that’ll help you assemble nutritious meals with ease.

When I pack my kids’ school lunches, I make sure I cover each food group. For detailed information on how to do that, read how to pack a well-balanced lunch.

Fruits

I usually buy 4-5 different fruits each week. I buy bananas and berries each week while apples and oranges are on the list every other week.

  • Apples / applesauce
  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Kiwis
  • Mandarin / Navel oranges
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries (fresh/frozen)
  • Watermelons

Dry fruits

I stock up on these once a month since they are great additions to trail mixes. I always get a big bag of dates from Costco – they are great for sweetening smoothies.

  • Apricots
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Dried figs
  • Raisins

Grains

We always make sure to add bread to our shopping list. We use it make sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and snacks as well.

  • Bread / Burger buns (whole wheat)
  • Popcorn
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Pita bread
  • Rice (Brown, Basmati)
  • Whole grain tortillas – great for quesadillas.

Protein

I always include protein in my kids’ lunch box either in the form of meat, pulses, nuts, or dairy products.

Dairy, Milk, and Cheese

  • Cheese – grated, sliced and also in the form of cheesesticks, cubes etc.
  • Milk
  • Yogurt – great for parfaits, raitas and as a substitute for sour cream.

Legumes (pulses and dals)

  • Dals
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans (kidney, black)
  • Black eyed peas

Veggies

If the veggies are not part of the main course, I always pack them as a side. Kids can be picky about veggies – always pack the ones that they like for lunch, but when at home keep encouraging them to try new ones.

  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn (fresh/frozen)
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas (frozen)
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Stir-fry veggies (frozen)
  • Sweet potato

Produce

As someone who makes Indian food a lot, I always have these in my kitchen, as they form the base of most Indian curries.

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Ginger & Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Green chilies

Frozen food

For days when I haven’t planned well or just want a break, I rely on these store-bought foods to make a quick lunch.

Snacks/drinks

These are some of our go-to snacks. I go over a bigger list in this post – Healthy snacks and sides to pack with school lunch.

  • Baked kettle chips
  • Pita chips
  • Skinny pop
  • Larabars
  • Coconut water

Condiments

Oils / vinegar

  • Avocado, olive, coconut oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Vinegar

Canned foods

  • Pasta sauce
  • Canned Tuna
  • Broth

Spice, Spice mixes, Seasonings

I do have a lot more spices in my pantry, but these are my go-to ones.

  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Garam masala
  • Taco seasoning
  • Turmeric powder

Quick recipes to make using this pantry list

Printable shopping list

Click on the image to download a copy.

A clickable image that includes a shopping list needed to pack lunch
Essential Lunch Box Shopping List

Helpful resources

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