We are in the last few weeks of a dead sprint toward school in our household. My children envy those who go back to school at a later date, conveniently forgetting that those same students started summer later as well. So, basically, for the next two weeks we are doing nothing but organizing, planning, and shopping for back to school supply deals and discounts. You too? Well, before heading out the door in a panic, check out our handy round-up of back to school supply basics:




Is is just us or are backpacks cuter than ever these days? There is a lot of variety in size, pattern, and features. While my kids beg for new backpacks every year, we generally follow a few simple guidelines to ensure at least two years use out of each back pack.

Here’s what to look for:

  • No pictures or patches or decals – these wear off, tear off or fall off easily
  • Thick, wide straps for maximum comfort and weight bearing (textbooks get HEAVY)
  • Large openings for oversized binders and folders
  • Strong zippers
  • Wheels (not a requirement but they can be helpful)

While budget prices are always the goal, quality backpacks are worth a little extra cost. Right now these coupons mean you can score a great backpack for under $25!

Lunch Boxes

bento box

Have you tried the bento box lunch thing yet? It’s a Japanese style of preparing lunches that involves a touch of creativity. For younger, pickier eaters, it really is the easiest way to pack a lunch. For tips and pointers on getting started, go here.

For older kids, the bento box lunch may not be as ideal. However, it seems that most new lunch box systems are based on the bento style of packing lunch, utilizing multiple reusable containers, silverware and trays. From the most basic plastic version with no detachable parts (and only $9.99!) to a high-end stainless steel option, these containers make both packing lunch and clean-up a breeze.

Computers and electronics


While neither of my kids has a personal laptop yet, they are now allowed to bring devices to school for reading. That means iPods, iPads, and tablets are all big back to school supply items. Many states have a tax-free weekend in August that adds to overall savings for big-ticket items like these.

This is also when big box stores offer back to school sales too. Start here for some major deals and discounts!


When your kids go back to school before the change of season, it’s pretty tough to justify buying new school clothes. However, the back to school sales and specials are too good to pass up. By shopping ahead for jeans, jackets, and shoes, it’s easy to load up for the cooler months without spending a fortune.

Our favorite stores with the best back to school clothing deals?

School supplies



It seems like everyone has a coupon or bargain for all the essential back to school supply basics. Even drugstores and grocery stores are offering discounts on the items kids need most. Other quick tips for getting the most out of your budget:

  • Check your at-home supplies first (so many kids bring home a ton of leftover supplies at the end of the year)
  • Buy in bulk (and split costs with neighbors or friends)
  • Skip the big-name brands unless the quality difference is noticeable

That’s our general guideline for back to school supply basics this year. If you have ample time still before your kids go back to school though, you can  also try these tips.