Top 6 Lunch Boxes for Back-to-School [BC Reader Faves]

I asked Baby Cheapskate readers about their favorite lunch boxes. Here are the ones that came out on top:

Top 6 Lunch Boxes for Back-to-School | BabyCheapskate.com

Pottery Barn Kids Classic: Comes in two dozen colors and prints. Features zippered mesh pocket, food-friendly lining, and back strap for attaching to rolling back packs. Designed to fit PBK  Hot/Cold Food Storage Container and Spencer Food Storage ( sold separately). $19.50 to $24.50.

PlanetBox Shuttle or Rover: Choose from four colors for Shuttle and six for Rover. Shuttle features a two-cup main compartment and a one-cup side compartment. RoverRover holds nearly 4.5 cups of food. Comprised of dishwasher-safe stainless steel bento-style insert plus hand-wipeable recycled polyester carry bag. $39.95 for Shuttle; $59.95 for Rover.

LL Bean Flip Top: Comes in three prints and eight sold colors. Storage lid holds drinks, insulated containers or snacks.Water-resistant, easy-clean lining. $24.95.

Lands End Soft Side: Comes in a dozen colors/prints and features side mesh pocket and front pocket and clip handle. Insulated. Leak-Resistant. Easy to wipe interior. $19

Lands End Classmate EZ Wipe: Comes in a dozen colors/prints and features four pockets, clip handle, and interior ID tag. Insulated. Leak-Resistant. Seamless interior makes it easy to wipe. $24

PackIt: Choose from 11 colors and prints. Freezable lunch bag features zip closure, buckle handle, wipe-clean interior and spot-clean exterior.  $19.99.

Related: Best Backpacks for Back to School [Shopping Secrets]

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Best Backpacks for Back to School [Shopping Secrets]

A year ago I asked BC readers to tell me which backpacks they preferred for their kids. Over 100 readers responded. Here are the top five brands:Best Backpacks for Back to School | Baby Cheapskate

Reader Faves:

  • LLBean: Kids four to seven can choose from Jr. Original, Original, Original Plus, Discovery, Explorer and Rolling. Prices range from $25 to $50 or so. The Deluxe bookpack (aimed at kids ten and up) is 25% off right now. Free shipping.
  • Lands End: Choose from My First Backpack (toddlers), ClassMate (small through extra large), Featherlight (small through extra large), or Wheeled (medium).
  • Pottery Barn Kids: Available in Mini, Small, Large and Rolling. Non-sale prices range from around $25 to $70 with free shipping.
  • Jansport: Superbreak is a popular model for kids (around $35) and comes in over 50 colors/patterns. Available at Target, Kohls, eBags.com and other retailers.

Shopping Tips:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lightweight packs with two wide, padded straps and a padded back.
  • Use the weight and height charts at the websites to find the bag that will work best for your child.
  • Mosts in pre-K and up will need a pack that is large enough to hold a standard sized folder. Some schools have rules against wheeled backpacks, so check before buying.
  • Other extras to look for include reflective fabric and water-resistant or waterproof fabric.
  • Expect to see deals on backpacks right up through Labor Day. Last year we saw PBK packs at up to 60% off around the 21st of August, and they were 40% off last week. Look for 25% to 35% off at Lands End and 25% off at Lands End.

I’ll be posting the best deals on backpacks throughout the next couple of months. Stay tuned!

Readers, what brands would YOU add to this list?

Related: Top 6 Lunch Boxes for Back-to-School [BC Reader Faves]

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School Uniform Savings, Deals and Coupons [Plus Parent Faves]

When it comes to school uniforms, you want to buy clothes that will last through dozens of playground outings and art classes, but you don’t want to spend a ton, either.

I’ve listed the current prices of kids’ unform polo shirts, twill shorts and twill pants at ten popular stores.

The past couple of years I’ve polled readers about their favorite school uniforms. Last year’s winners were Lands End and The Children’s Place (in that order). Old Navy and Gap also score well. 

Gap.com: 30% off school uniforms and backpacks. Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $11.86 | Twill shorts: $13.96 – $17.46 | Twill pants: $20.96.

OldNavy.com: Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $8.00 | Twill shorts: $12 | Twill pants: $14

Crazy 8: $5 shipping. Polos: $9.71 | Twill shorts: $11.21 | Twill pants: $12.71

Gymboree.com: $5 shipping. Polos: $12.71 | Twill shorts: $21.71 | Twill pants: $17.21

The Children’s Place: $5 shipping. 25% off with coupon code K8G253H through July 13. Polos: $8.25 | Twill shorts: $11.21 | Twill pants: $13.46. Prices listed are with 15% off coupon.

Amazon: Prices vary according to brand (Dockers. Dickies, French Toast and more). Polos: $5.42 | Twill shorts: $7.09 and up | Twill pants: $8.64 and up.

Kohls.com: Free shipping with $50+ order . Polos: from $9.99 | Twill shorts: from $15.99 | Twill pants: from $7.99

Walmart.com: Free shipping on school uniforms with $45 purchase of Home Free items. Polos: from $4,.50 | Twill shorts: from $7.50 | Twill pants: from $8.50. Look for multipacks to save more. .97 shipping on all uniforms.

Target.com: Select school uniform styles are 3 for $25. Free shipping when you spend $50 or more on select uniforms. You can also save 20% on $50 kids apparel purchase. Polos: from $7.99 | Twill shorts: from $6.48 | Twill pants: from $14.99 (prices are without 3/$25 promo)

LandsEnd.com:  25% off regularly priced uniforms with coupon code PICNIC and pin 7816. Free shipping when you spend $50 or more. Polos: from $6.99 | Twill shorts: from $8.99 | Twill pants: from $14.99. Prices listed are without promo.

Related: Read this BEFORE You Shop for Back-to-School Stuff

See more back-to-school posts

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Read this BEFORE You Shop for Back-to-School Stuff

This article from last year will help you make the most of Back-to-School season:

The back-to-school shopping buzz is already heating up. It makes sense for folks in  my neck of the woods, since we start back in three weeks (!). I know some kids won’t be going back until after Labor Day, however.

Of course, as with all things fashion, the shopping season doesn’t exactly align with our real-world calendars. Should you be worried about missing back-to-school shopping deals before mid July? Here’s what you need to know:

  • Now is a great time to pick up shorts and tees if you need them for back-to-school. They’re on sale or clearance just about everywhere.
  • Expect the good shoe sales we’ve been seeing lately to continue.
  • Even though we’ve started to see them advertised, school uniform sales haven’t really gotten rolling yet. The best online discount I’ve seen so far is around 30% off (at Gap.com, for example).
  • It’s fine to wait to buy backpacks, lunchboxes school supplies since they’re still mostly at full price in store. Online, I’ve seen 30% off backpacks (also at Gap.com).
  • Sales tax holidays start at the end of July and run through August. See a list of them.

The third week of the July is the true beginning the of back-to-school deal season, according to previous years postings.

  • At that point (perhaps a little earlier, since sales have been running a week or two early all year) you can expect to find kids’ jeans for $10 at stores like Crazy8.com and TheChildrensPlace.com.
  • Old Navy typically does a big uniform and backpack sale at the end of July. Look for big discounts on kids’ clothes at Old Navy during the first week of August.
  • Kohls’ BTS sale started during the second week of August last year.
  • Expect some pretty could coupons for shoes, too.

Back-packs and school supplies go on clearance in store just after school starts in your area. If you can wait to buy most of your child’s school supplies until then, you can save up to 75%. Look for backpacks to go on clearance online around the end of August.

If you’re looking for great deals on gently used clothing, fall consignment sale season starts in August, too. Check for sales in your area at The Bargain Watcher.com or KidsConsignmentSales.com.

Sales start to wrap up during week three of August as retailers start to clearance fall merchandise to make way for –you guessed it– Halloween costumes.

Tip: Pull up all deals for kids 5 and older in a flash by clicking on the “Hot Deals for Cool Kids (5+)” tab at the top of the blog.

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Saving on School Uniforms: Which Brand Offers the Best Value? [Poll]

When it comes to school uniforms, you want to buy clothes that will last through dozens of playground outings and art classes, but you don’t want to spend a ton, either.

I’ve listed the current prices of kids’ unform polo shirts, twill shorts and twill pants at ten popular stores.

Respond to the poll at the end of the post and let me know your favorite place to shop for uniforms. Last year’s winners were The Children’s Place (1st place), Gap and Old Navy (both tied for 2nd place).

Gap.com: Take 15% off with code GAPGIFT. Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $14.41 | Twill shorts: $13.65 – $16.58 – $16.96 | Twill pants: $25.46. Prices listed include coupon code.

OldNavy.com: Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $5.00 | Twill shorts: $8 | Twill pants: $10

Crazy 8: $5 shipping. Polos: $9.71 | Twill shorts: $11.21 – $12.71| Twill pants: $14.21 – $14.96

Gymboree.com: $5 shipping. Polos: $16.95 | Twill shorts: $21.95 | Twill pants: $24.95 – $28.95

The Children’s Place: $5 shipping. Today only: 30% off $60 or more, 20% off $50 or more, 15% off $49 or less (see site for coupon codes). Polos: $7.01- $8.25 | Twill shorts: $9.53 – $10.80 | Twill pants: $10.80 – $11.44. Prices listed are with 15% off coupon.

Amazon: Prices vary according to brand (Dockers. Dickies, French Toast and more). Polos: $4.69 and up | Twill shorts: $7.50 and up | Twill pants: $6.49 and up.

Kohls.com: Free shipping with $50+ order and code FORU50SHIP. Polos: $10.80 – $12.99 | Twill shorts: $16.80 – $19.99 | Twill pants: $17.99 – $22.40

Walmart.com: Free shipping on school uniforms with $45 purchase of Home Free items. Polos: $5 to $7.95 | Twill shorts: $8 to $14.97| Twill pants: $9 to $16.97

Target.com: Free shipping when you spend $50 or more on select uniforms. Polos: $7.99 – $8.99 | Twill shorts: $12.99 – $16.99 | Twill pants: $9.99 – $19.99

LandsEnd.com:  20% off uniforms with coupon code FAMILY and pin 2975. Free shipping when you spend $50 or more. Polos: $47.99 – $30 | Twill shorts: $$21.60 – $24 | Twill pants: $24 – $28. Prices listed are with 20% off coupon.

  • Other
  • JC Penney
  • Gap
  • Walmart
  • Gymboree
  • Kohl’s
  • Old Navy
  • Lands End
  • Amazon
  • French Toast
  • The Children’s Place
  • Target
  • Sears
  • Crazy 8

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50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School Supplies

50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School Supplies

Hey, crafty types, looking for some cool back-to-school DIY projects? They’re a great way to beat end-of-summer boredom and get your kid excited about heading back to class.

In the updated and expanded post below below, you’ll find links to more than 50 tutorials for making your own school supplies. Enjoy!

50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School Supplies

Indie Fixx rounds up how-tos for everything from a flash drive made from an eraser to heart shaped paperclips.

The wonderful Pretty Prudent  has a tutorial on making a nap mat / bed roll as well as a post listing ten free tutorials to make your own lunch bags.

This Wise Bread article links to cheapskate how-tos on making your own backpack, pencil case, and lunchbox.

50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School SuppliesCheck out the locker pencil holder tutorial at Make and Takes. Simple, but genius! I like this chip bag book cover, too.

50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School SuppliesDo you sew? FashionClub.com Daily features videos that show you how to make an oversized book bag.

I think  you’ll like this Slouchy Book Bag tutorial at sew4home, soo. There’s a matching pencil case, too (right), which I’d kinda like somebody to make for me!

At Martha Steward Living, you’ll find another easy and CUTE! felt pencil case to sew.

Mommy Poppins Boston posted a tutorial of a cute Duck Tape library card holder and pencil case.

Are you a little obsessed with washi tape like I am? Check out the quick-and-easy washi taped notebook tutorial at wanderrgirl. Etsy.com is a great place to find all types of washi tape.

50+ Tutorials for Making Your Own School SuppliesThere are a ton of cloth snack bag tutorials out there. I like this one from Maubys.net.

And for the kids, Spoonful has 20 fun-looking school supply crafts including a lunch money holder, felt book cover, locker pocket and fold up homework work station

See more back-to-school posts at Baby Cheapskate.

See more DIY posts at BC. There are also a ton of tutorials on Pinterest.

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Waaaaaay Beyond Lunchables: 13 Tasty Lunchbox Idea Links

Cooking for Monkeys!

Some of you will be packing kids’ lunches for the first time this year. Others of us just need a little inspiration. That’s exactly what these sites dish up. You’ll find tons of yummy options, including vegetarian, gluten-free, nut free and more.

Brown Bag Safety at Kaboose. Advice and tips for safe brown bag lunches.

Make Over Your Kid’s Lunch from Family Circle magazine. “Before” and “After” healthy lunch box makeovers.

Sandwiches for School from Family Fun. ‘Cause there’s more to life than PB&J.

30 Ideas for School Lunches from Good Housekeeping.

School Lunches Kids Love from Disney’s Family.com site. Bento box ideas, Thermos lunches and more.

10 Alternatives to PB&J at TheKitchn.com.

Lunch for Preschoolers from ilunchbox.com. A whole site dedicated to lunch box ideas!

Cooking for Monkeys: Like Bento? You’ll adore these fun, gorgeous lunch ideas.

15 Peanut Free School Lunch Ideas from Parenting.

Gluten-Free School Lunch Recipes and Tips at About.com’s Gluten-free cooking site.

Gluten Free Lunch: To Go! Ideas for what to pack at Gluten Free Gobsmacked

Nut-Free Lunch Ideas from Good*Nurture. Great if your child has nut allergies or attends a nut-free school.

Vegetarian and Vegan Lunch Box Ideas from VegCooking. “Pack a Lunch with a Punch”!

See more back-to-school posts at Baby Cheapskate.

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School Uniforms and Backpacks: Which Store has the Best Deal?

When it comes to school uniforms, you want to buy clothes that will last through dozens of playground outings and art classes, but you don’t want to spend a ton, either. I’ve listed the current prices of polo shirts, twill shorts, twill pants and backpacks at nine popular stores.

Respond to the poll at the end of the post and let me know your favorite place to shop for uniforms.

Gap.com: Uniforms and backpacks are 30% off. Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $11.55 – $12.95 | Twill shorts: $13.65 – $13.96 | Twill pants: $20.65 | Backpacks: $20.96

OldNavy.com: Free shipping with $50+ purchase. Polos: $5.50 | Twill shorts: $13.65 – $13.96 | Twill pants: $20.65 | Backpacks: $20.96

Crazy 8: Uniforms and backpacks are 25% off. $5 shipping. Polos: $9.71 | Twill shorts: $9.50| Twill pants: $12.00 | Backpacks: $9.50

Gymboree.com: $5 shipping. Polos: $14.95 – $18.95 | Twill shorts: $18.95 | Twill pants: $26.95 | Backpacks: $26.95

The Children’s Place: $5 shipping. 20% off today only. Polos: $7.50 | Twill shorts: $11.21 to $12.71 | Twill pants: $13.46 | Backpacks: $12.71

Amazon: School uniforms are 20% to 50% off. Prices vary according to brand (Dockers. Dickies, French Toast and more). Polos: $7.99 and up | Twill shorts: $12.95 and up | Twill pants: $8.99 and up

Kohls.com: School uniforms are up to 50% off. Free shipping with $75+ order. Polos: $12 – $15.40 | Twill shorts: $12 | Twill pants: $18 – $23.80 | Backpacks: $17.99 and up

Walmart.com: Free shipping on school uniforms. Polos: $5 – $9 | Twill shorts: $10 – $18| Twill pants: $8 – $19 | Backpacks: $9 – $13

Target.com: Free shipping when you spend $50 or more on select uniforms. Polos: $3.98 – $7 | Twill shorts: $8.99 – $14.99 | Twill pants: $8.99 – $16.99 | Backpacks: $10.00 – $49.99

What’s your favorite place to buy school uniform items?

  • Walmart
  • Other
  • Kohls
  • The Children’s Place
  • Amazon
  • Gymboree
  • Crazy8
  • Target
  • Gap
  • Old Navy

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Smart Shopping: School Uniform Picks

New at my Upromise deal blog, Mommy Saves Best: Smart Shopping: School Uniform Picks. Are school uniforms on your back-to-school shopping list? Let me make your life easier. I’ve researched uniforms at online stores and compared features and pricing. Check the post for my top five retailers, plus, click through for coupons and deals at each.

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Back to School Shopping that Earns Money for College: A Checklist

Today’s post at my Upromise deal blog, Mommy Saves Best, is a checklist of essential back to school items that includes links to coupons and deals at Upromise partner retailers. Shop through these stores with your Upromise account and you can earn money for college. ebags.com, for example, is currently offering 12% college savings. Do check it out if you have a child going back to school!

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.