Back-to-School Shopping List

Mother and son shopping for shirts
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Back-to-school shopping can be a nightmare. Would buying six pairs of jeans too many? Would buying three be too few? Find out what you really need to buy with this handy back-to-school shopping list.


Your kids’ needs will vary according to their age, gender, and how frequently you do laundry, as well as whether they have to wear uniforms in school.

Generally, you’ll want to have:

  • 3-5 pairs of jeans
  • 4-5 short-sleeved tops
  • 2-4 long-sleeved tops
  • 3-5 hoodies
  • 2-4 sweaters
  • 2-4 pairs of slacks and/or skirts
  • 5-7 pairs of socks and/or leggings/tights
  • 7 pairs of underwear


Again, how many pairs of shoes your kids need, and what kind, will vary with their activity level and your school's dress policies. Generally, your kids will need:

  • Sneakers
  • Casual/Dress shoes
  • Flip flops/sandals/slip-on shoes


Remember that many states offering tax-free weekend events for the back to school shopping season stipulate that accessories are not tax-free, so you'll want to check with the laws in your state. Some of the accessories you may need to purchase include:

  • 1 backpack
  • 1 belt
  • Ponytail holders and/or hair clips


What types of coats, and how many, will depend largely on the climate where you live. In general, most children need each of the following outerwear items:

  • Raincoat
  • Windbreaker or fleece jacket
  • Winter coat
  • Rain boots
  • Snow boots
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Winter hat

Back to School Supplies

Contact your child’s school for a specific list of the back-to-school supplies you’ll need to purchase. Generally, you can expect to buy:

  • 2-5 Spiral notebooks
  • 5-10 pencils
  • 5-10 pens
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue or glue sticks
  • Binder
  • 2-5 Folders

School Donations 

Many teachers ask for donations during the back to school shopping season, such as:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer

Lunch Items

Now is the time to begin stocking up on the items you’ll be packing in your kids’ lunches, including:

  • A lunch box
  • 2 freezer packs (to keep items cold)
  • Juice boxes
  • Sandwich ingredients
  • Snack items
  • Convenient fruits/vegetables (like grapes and baby carrots)
  • Yogurts

By approaching the back to school shopping season with a plan, and knowing ahead of time what you need to buy, you'll be able to save money and refrain from buying items your kids don't really need this year.