FFTC’s Guide to Back-to-School

Back to School

It’s time for the new school year. And not only do our kids need school supplies, they probably need new clothes. T-shirtsjeans, sweatshirts, shoes.  You name it, there is a good chance someone will need it.

With Minnesota offering all public school kids free lunch, we may want to have a few things in our back pockets for lunch alternatives.  

And if you have chosen private school or homeschool or another education alternative, you may want to figure out some easy and delicious school lunches.

Table of Contents

pizza delivered by yough! But before we get to the school sales, I think we need to fill our bellies before we fill our backpacks. There is a new pizza and pizza dough that’s  made with just two ingredients. What are the two ingredients?
  • Greek yogurt from Wisconsin farms
  • 100% organic whole wheat
We enjoyed the frozen pizzas both turkey pepperoni and the cheese. And then, we took the naked frozen crust and piled on our own toppings. We enjoyed our meal greatly. Disclosure: FFTC was contacted by Yough! They asked if we would want to receive a sample, so we gave it a taste. Cooked Yough! pizza

Shopping for Your Back to School Wardrobe

There was a time when a school clothes shopping trip sent shivers up my spine. But after 13 years of school shopping, I have learned there are some great alternatives to the mall, department stores or even Target that can help you keep the prices down and fill your kids’ closet with staples and an outfit or two.

ReSale Retail for School Clothes 

I worked for a resale retail children’s clothing shop when I was in college. Ironically, it was the one and only time I was robbed at gunpoint. Interesting to say the least. That was over 20 years ago and I think they caught the guy. You have nothing to worry about while you do your shopping. If thrift stores are intimidating, resale shops are a great place to start. Resale shops work a little bit differently than consignment shops in paying the seller. Consignment stores only pay the seller if their items are purchased by the public.  Resale shops pay the seller upfront.   For both types of stores, the clothing is examined to see if its in good condition. Some of my kids have received a whole new wardrobe through these resale shops.   Here are some options for resale school season shopping in the metro. Once Upon a Child • Various Locations throughout the Metro With racks upon racks of clothes, as well as a bazillion locations throughout the metro, you will have a big selection to choose from. Kids Rack • 11350 Aquila Dr. N, Champlin The shop just moved to behind Dairy Queen in Champlin. They have my favorite selection of shoes. I got my sons’ soccer cleats here! Kid to Kid • 1278 Town Centre Dr #140B, Eagan. Located around the country, I have never shopped here. But the company has been around for over 30 years, so I’m guessing they know what they’re doing.
fall wardrobe
Outfit combination

Thrift Stores for School Clothes 

The best way to utilize thrift stores is to return frequently. Sometimes its hard to get the simple basics, but they are a blast for unexpected gems like graphic tees or a cardigan. Shopping at thrift stores  is a treasure hunt for current or returning trends. Salvation Army Big stores usually have a better selection of adult clothing versus kids’, but you never know what you can find. Goodwill Most likely, you have heard or been to Goodwill. They are a hot spot for Halloween costumes and are the most well-known thrift stores in the Twin Cities. Arc’s Value Village You find a different selection of children’s clothes at each store, but like I have said before, inventory is always changing.
Fall wardrobe
Fall outfit model

Multiple Family to Family Sales

These sales are like a clean and indoor gigantic garage sale. Get it done all in one place. Munchkin Markets • Various Locations at various times and dates • Read website page for location you are interested in to get all the details about times of sales and admission fee. Just Between Friends Sale • Various Locations at various times and dates • Admission fee usually charged. Make sure you check the website for all the shopping details.
Summer Outfit for those days in the fall that are hot

Online Sales

I know this goes without saying, but can always shop online.  If you decide to use Amazon, look for coupon codes and buy a couple of different sizes.  The best part about Amazon is if you keep the packaging, you can return anything you need to at Kohl‘s.  Buy a couple of pairs of pants and whichever don’t work, you can return super easily.  Amazon is a pretty good place to stock up on socks and underwear.  Even school uniforms. Another place to check out especially for kids clothing is Facebook Marketplace.  Especially if you find a seller that is in your area.  If you shop online, look for free shipping to help reduce the price as well.

Mall Sales

While this isn’t my absolute favorite way to go shopping, if you have a tween or teen, a day trip to the mall for a new school wardrobe could be really fun as long as you take along a list of needs.   You could head over to Old Navy and see what their current deals are. Shop the clearance racks at department stores.   I got my favorite dress ever at Macy’s for $8 off the clearance rack.  It was 100% silk and was so so cute!  You don’t know what you will find unless you dig through the shelves and racks. Take any discounts or store coupons and  grab any giftcards you may have laying around. See what you can purchase for a reasonable price.
Back to School

Shopping for Your Back to School Supplies

School Supply Shopping has come a long way since when I was in school.  Here are the steps I would take to make sure that I don’t over spend but also keep my sanity in shopping for all the supplies. 

  1. Print off your school’s list (or pick one up)
  2. Go through your house and collect supplies you already have like some of the random sharpies or erasers or headphones. 
  3. Visit your favorite school supply store’s website–ours are below–and order them for a pick-up. 

Here are our favorite places to get school supplies. 

I know there are more shops to check out, but my favorite are the ones that I don’t have to go into.

school lunches

Making Back to School Lunches

Minnesota is now offering free school lunches to everyone at school and it isn’t dependent on income.  I, for one, find that very helpful.  But there still could be some days when my kids want to bring their own lunch, so here’s a way to help us pack lunches more easily.

School Lunches by the List

Every year, I make a diagram of what needs to be included and post it above the lunch making station in our kitchen.  (I make that sound so official.  Really, I just posted it above the counter where we make the lunches.) This guides kids who can read and are ready to pack their own school lunches.

school lunches
image courtesy www.clevver.com

It’s super easy to whip your school lunches together when you have the supplies on hand, so have a grocery list of supplies for school lunches.  Even when you or your kids only have 4 minutes to throw a lunch together, it’s a snap when you have supplies available.

School Lunches Prepared Ahead

One year, I was determined to be extra prepared to send my kids off to school. I learned about making enough pb&j sandwiches for each day of the week for each kid and freezing them to take out of the freezer on the day of the lunch.

Sounds fabulous. Except it didn’t work.  The sandwiches were soggy or still frozen by lunchtime or both.

So I stopped doing it after the first week.

But I didn’t have to throw the concept of prepping ahead out with the bathwater. (Gross analogy. Now all I can think of is soggy bread). What I did instead was prep everything that wouldn’t get soggy or turn brown and organized it in the refrigerator.

I cut up carrots and bagged berries. I sliced cheese and boiled eggs. Then, I put the individual containers into one large container for easy grab-and-go. Some prep work put in at the beginning of the week can save a lot of time on busy school mornings and makes it easy for kids to put together a balanced lunch.

School Lunches Reimagined

Sandwiches and carrot sticks get old fast.  Kids love having something fun in their school lunches.  I’m not saying you should always include sugary treats, but you can surprise them with a different drink or a different fruit. You can even cut their sandwich into a fun shape. Some of our favorite recipes to mix up lunchtime a little:

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