My Back to School Shopping List

As the summer starts winding down, it's time to start thinking about school and back-to-school shopping. My back-to-school shopping list includes all the essentials your kiddos need and will help you avoid all the long department store and outlet lines.

Back To School Shopping List

It’s finally here! Back to school time! Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the summer a whole lot, and of course, as my kids get older, the summers get easier and easier to enjoy. But I am definitely ready to get back into a routine and get the house back in full order. The kids are actually all excited to go back to school, and a couple of them are even more excited because they get to start a brand new homeschooling adventure!

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One of the things the kids look forward to the most when this time is near is back-to-school shopping. Clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes, supplies, they want it all! Usually, we make a big trip all of us together to get everyone’s things, but this year is different. We have 3 out of 5 doing homeschool, so we don’t need to buy as much as we usually do. One of the two that are going back to school wears a uniform and the rest of the kids have plenty of good clothes, so we’re definitely keeping it low-key this year.

I am getting a few basic things that we need though, like water bottles, a couple of lunch boxes, and a few supplies. I’m going to take advantage of the tax-free weekend going on right now in Texas to buy the things we need. So for those of you that are still needing back-to-school items, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite back-to-school purchases that we’ve made throughout the years and a few that we’re making this weekend!

Happy shopping!


The Backpack Built To Last

Our usual go-to backpack has always been a JanSport. My kids are rough on their backpacks, as most kids are, and JanSport backpacks can take it!

I remember having one through most of my high school years, and there was never a need to get a new one! I even used it in college! My kids usually use theirs for at least two years, and then if they want a new one, we donate the old one, which is usually still in great shape. JanSport has so many pretty designs, it’s easy to find something the kids like.

Jansport Backpacks for Boys

Jansport Backpacks for Girls

The Fashionable Backpack for the Young Ones

The backpacks from Pottery Barn are also great. They are so so pretty, and they’re usually always on sale before school starts up! You can have them monogrammed, and you can get matching lunchboxes, for that extra fashionable child in your family! 😉

Stylish Backpacks for Young Boys

Stylish Backpacks for Young Girls

For a complete list of backpack options, check out my Ultimate Back to School Supplies List.

Lunch Boxes

The Lunch Box for the Responsible Little One

Usually, we don’t spend a lot of money on lunch boxes at our house, since it seems to be the most frequently lost item by my kids! If they were a bit more responsible I would definitely buy them Pottery Barn lunchboxes because they have some absolutely beautiful designs. Plus they can take a beating because they’re so well made. But sadly, we’ll be sticking with a more affordable option.

Pottery Barn Lunch Boxes

The Colorful Lunch Box Option

There are so many cute and colorful options out this year. Just look at all the awesome colors and designs that the kiddos will love. Plus, the price is just right! Everyone can be happy with these choices.

Colorful Lunch Boxes

The Gotta Have It, Lunch Box

The new thing last year was the Bento Box Lunch Boxes. Well, they’re still very popular this year. You can find one for every taste and budget.  There’s even a super fancy, stainless steel version.

Lunch Bag and Bento Box

Bento boxes are great for sending kids with food other than sandwiches. Just throw some healthy food in there and don’t forget to add a few decorative food picks and your kiddo is ready to face the day at school. The food is nicely separated so that it doesn’t end up mixing together and becoming a mushy mess.

This year, Bentology has released these little packs that come with both a bag and a bento box. There are lots of cute options.

The Ultimate Lunch Box for the Organization Freak

This bento-styled lunch box looks like something I’d want for myself! (I mean, the organization nut in me thinks it’s unbelievably cool to keep food organized inside a lunch box!!)

Bento Lunch Boxes

Lunch Bags for Teens

The older kids need a good lunch box too. My teen girl still loves anything sparkly and pink. While my boys will only go for something muted that doesn’t call too much attention. Here are a few great options.

Lunch Bags for Teens

For a more complete list of lunch box options, check out my Ultimate Back to School Supplies List.

Water Bottles

The Ultimate Water Bottle

OK, so there’s a million water bottles out there to choose from but I’ve recently become quite obsessed with mine.

My son teaches at a tennis camp each summer, in nearly 100-degree weather. He has this water bottle which we gave him for Christmas, and he used it for work every day. Well, I was so impressed one day when he brought it back home after a full day of being out on the courts in the heat. When I started to clean it out, I found that my refrigerator ice was still in it! At that moment, I decided to get rid of all our plastic water bottles and get everyone in the family one each.

I use mine when I play tennis and I love it! The wide spout lets you take a big gulp of water, which is great! I got mine in the 18-ounce size, which is slightly smaller than his.

Water Bottles for Kids

I’ve also gotten Funtainers from Thermos for the little ones to take to school and they like them a lot.

Water Bottles for Kids

For a more complete list of water bottle options, check out my Ultimate Back to School Supplies List.


Clothing for Kids

We usually go to Target or TJ Maxx for our back-to-school clothes. Target’s line, Cat & Jack, is a huge hit with my two youngest ones. Target has tons of stylish & affordable choices when it comes to clothing for the new school year.

Girls Tops from Target

Girls Bottoms from Target

Boys Tops from Target

Boys Bottoms from Target

This year, I also plan to get a couple of things at JCPenney. I’ve been eyeing their website and they have some nice clothes at great prices. I remember as a child, when we’d travel for vacation from Honduras to the US, it wasn’t official until we made a trip to JCPenney! To this day, my family who comes to visit always makes an obligatory stop there.

For a more complete list of clothing options, check out my Ultimate Back to School Supplies List.


Amazon has a wonderful section of back-to-school supplies. They really make it easy to find what you need.

Target also has a nice area on its website for back-to-school shopping. They make it easy by placing everything into defined categories.

As for me, I have some favorite things that I like to buy the kids, (and me too!). I’m totally obsessed with school supplies, especially pens and markers and cool binders. I’ve loved these things since I was little, and I may or may not have a huge stash in my home that no one is allowed to touch. Well, here are a few of my favorites!

Favorite School Supplies

Love, love, love these hybrid binder/notebooks. My kids have been using them since I first discovered them, and they love them too. I get them one for each class and they’re set! This year, I will be getting my homeschool kids one for each class as well.

These sticky flags are great for my older kids. Helps to mark pages and they’re easily movable and removable!

Love these highlighters! These here come in lots of colors and the price is great!!

I have an artist in the family, so every year, he gets a new pack of these colored pencils. He loves them and says they are the best!

For a more complete list of school supplies, check out my Ultimate Back to School Supplies List.

Well, that’s it, folks! I really could go on forever writing about my favorite school supplies, so I’ll stop while I’m ahead! Hope you find this list helpful for your back-to-school shopping! Do you have any favorite must-haves for back to school? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “My Back to School Shopping List”

  1. Great list! I only have grandchildren in school now. Most all of the schools in our area have a very extensive, structured list that asks for specific folders in certain colors, a certain brand of pencils, crayons, markers and colored pencils. They also ask for hand sanitizer, liquid soap and tissues.

    1. Hi Connie! Thank you! You are right, they are very specific about what they want! That’s why I also created a more extensive list that has a lot more items, plus I linked to a great resource on Walmart and Target, where you can find your specific school’s list! You enter your zip code, find your school, and it tells you everything you need. It’s pretty cool! Here’s the more extensive guide so you can share it with your children 🙂

  2. Wladimir Kestenbaum

    Wow VK,
    This blog is better than going to the mall, and it sure saved me at least 2 or 3 hours! Love,

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