The Ultimate Guide: Back To School Budget Supplies For Kindergarten

Estimated reading time: 17 minutes

Whether your child is heading back to school or starting elementary school for the first time in kindergarten, some costs need to be budgeted.

Today, let’s explore everything we needed to purchase to send our son to school and the costs involved.

The Ultimate Back To School Supplies Guide For Junior and Senior Kindergarten
The Ultimate Back To School Supplies Guide For Junior and Senior Kindergarten

Back To School In Style, Comfort, And Under Budget

When our son made his way to his class lineup on the first day of junior kindergarten, we couldn’t stop staring at him.

It felt like it was just yesterday that he was born, and we were changing diapers making sure he was tended to at every cry.

We waited until we didn’t see his backpack in view before we made our way home, as it was only a short walk to his school.

At that moment, we looked at each other and thought, “Now what?”.

Now we get on with the things we put on hold or layaway for the past four years as new parents.

Some parents still have babies at home when another child enters kindergarten, so it’s no walk in the park.

It’s still busy, but fewer children are sent to school for the year.

School Supplies Kindergarten

back to school kindergarten crayons

Kindergarten enrollment is a happy and stressful time for parents because sending their child into the education system is like seeing them off to university or college.

No matter where your child goes to school, costs will always be involved, which I wanted to discuss today.

Our son is entering senior kindergarten this September, and he was given a list of school supplies that were recommended he bring.

Schools aren’t funded as much as they used to be for school supplies, and when parents can help, it makes a world of difference for the teacher and your child.

Access to their school supplies means they can get on with their school work and not have to worry because kids sense more than we believe.

Most elementary school teachers have to pay out of pocket for classroom expenses, including supplies, toys, and educational materials.

Thankfully both the kindergarten and senior kindergarten classes at our son’s school have school supplies for the students but not large amounts.

That means that all students will have access to what they need but still have to share what they don’t personally bring from home.

Honestly, we never sent any school supplies with our son to school when he started junior kindergarten last year.

I don’t know if we missed the memo or were too overwhelmed with the process of our son starting junior kindergarten, but he brought no school supplies.

This year will be different, and for those parents out there who are overwhelmed by the process, don’t worry. It will work out.

You don’t have to be perfect; anything you forget or need, your child’s teacher will let you know if it’s essential.

Back To School Supplies List Kindergarten

What school supplies do I need for kindergarten?

It all depends on the school your child attends, and typically they will send a list to the parents, or you could ask your child’s teacher.

This year we were given a list of school supplies that our son is asked to bring on the first day of senior kindergarten.

  • Two Boxes of Kleenex
  • Glue Stick
  • Crayola markers
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Kindergarten Scissors

Spend Less At The Dollar Store

You can purchase all of the above at your local dollar store for around $10-$15, which is fairly inexpensive for school supplies.

I’m sure most parents already have these supplies at home in a craft room or play center; at least, we do.

To be honest, we picked up most of our son’s school supplies at second-hand shops throughout the summer months.

The school supplies your child is requested to bring aren’t pricey however, you can still save on 50% off days or if you have discount coupons.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen brand-new school supplies for sale at second-hand shops for far less than retail.

As your child graduates into other grades, you’ll see the demands of school supplies rise, especially into high school.

Budgeting For Kindergarten School Supplies

back to school backpack kindergarten

There’s not much in terms of budgeting expenses for school supplies when your child enters junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten.

As long as you know you’ll need a minimum of $20 for school supplies and set that money aside in the bank, you’ll be fine.

Now that our son is heading into senior kindergarten, we have a general idea of what is needed for school supplies.

We factor in his school supplies and other back-to-school accessories as a projected expense in our budget.

If you can find out at the end of each school year what your child needs the following year, it can help you budget your expenses.

It will also allow you time to find school supplies on sale off-season or at garage sales, or second-hand shops.

Alternatively, shop online platforms like Varage Sale, Kijiji, and Facebook Marketplace.

Kindergarten Back-to-School Clothing and Accessories

back to school clothes kindergarten

Here’s where the back-to-school money starts rolling however, you don’t need to go overboard.

The last thing you need to do as a parent is to send your child to school dressed in expensive, name-brand clothing.

Kids don’t care at this age, and neither should you.

Funneling the costs of back to school in the areas you need to spend will help balance the budget.

Most days, he came home plastered in mud, food, and classroom fun all over their clothes.

Don’t sweat it because it will happen.

Used Clothing And Thinking Ahead

Almost all of our son’s clothing is purchased and used at second-hand shops throughout the year.

We are always thinking ahead, and during sales buying clothing for him, that are bigger so he fits into them later.

This will work better when your child is younger because as they get older, they like to pick clothing out themselves.

Even so, our son likes to pick out shirts he will wear, and it’s simple when it comes to pants for school.

  • Jogging Pants or Sports Pants
  • Jeans with no button (less hassle until they are comfortable)
  • Rain pants or lined Pants
  • Snow Pants
  • Shorts

We always inspect every article of clothing we buy to ensure the knees are not worn out and that there are no holes.

You can easily buy 10 pairs of pants for kindergarten kids used for under $50, which is a huge saving compared to buying new.

If you plan on buying new clothing, skip the expensive name-brand mall shopping because you’re only wasting money.

Unless of course, you want to see your child in pricey clothes and have the budget for it, go for it.

Plan Ahead Clothing Purchases

Other items that you will want to buy or source ahead of time for back-to-school clothing may be:

  • Snow Suit
  • Winter Hat (you’ll need a few of these)
  • Winter Boots
  • Waterproof Rain Boots
  • Umbrella
  • Splash Pants
  • Winter Gloves ( a few sets as they WILL go missing)
  • Winter Scarf
  • Fall Jacket
  • Spring Jacket
  • Sweaters
  • Hoodies and Pullovers
  • Backpack and lunch box
  • Indoor running shoes
  • Outdoor shoes include running shoes, sandals, and seasonal shoes, as listed above.

You may also find that your child struggles with certain accessories at school, and you may have to try something else.

Our son struggled with gloves, so we went from dollar-store simple gloves to high-end gloves from SportChek that he had no interest in.

As parents, we hate to see our children struggle, so having your child where they can dress and undress themselves makes life far easier.

Indoor and Outdoor Shoes for Kindergarten

kids shoes for kindergarte

You’ll also want to invest in good footwear for your child because feet are very important, and you don’t want to squeeze dollars in this area if you can afford it comfortably.

Think comfort, rainproof and long-lasting if possible.

Don’t be afraid to spend $30-$60 for a pair of good shoes, and if your child can’t tie their laces, opt for velcro.

Look for sales at local sports stores or opt for second-hand shoes that are name-brand that you trust.

We’ve tried the Walmart shoes and boots, and they don’t last at all, so we spend double or more on indoor and outdoor shoes throughout the year.

Keep in mind your child’s feet will grow as well, which means you may need to buy them not once but twice in the school year.

Save where you can so you can spend where you have to.

Our son struggled with his winter boots so badly that we paid nearly $100 for a pair of BOGS he could easily put on and off.

It was well worth it for our son to keep his stress levels at bay, especially since he has sensory concerns.

Backpacks for Kids

When purchasing a backpack opt for a larger one because you’ll need it to stuff everything from library books to lunches and spare clothes inside.

Oh, and make sure it’s rainproof.

For senior kindergarten, our son will use his junior kindergarten Roots 73 backpack for a second year.

We bought the Roots backpack and lunch box at Costco for around $30, although we’ve changed his lunch box option this year.

Emergency Clothing Bag

Your child’s teacher will most likely advise you to keep an emergency bag of clothing at school just in case of accidents.

I’m not talking about bathroom accidents only because our son was soaked from rain and puddles and full of mud on many occasions.

In our junior kindergarten emergency clothing bag, we kept a spare set of clothing based on the season.

You will have to swap them out as the seasons change and in the winter, there is always a spare set of hats, gloves, and a sweater.

Also, don’t forget to keep spare undergarments and socks in the bag just in case they get soiled or wet.

A simple plastic bag will do, or some teachers ask for a large Ziploc-type bag; however, I’m sure it won’t be a big deal.

We also keep a pack of wipes and Kleenex boxes in our son’s cubby at school so he always has them available.

Label All Back To School Supplies and Clothing

The name of the game here is to make sure you LABEL everything.

Always label your clothing and the bag of spare clothing for your child in case it goes missing.

For some reason, kindergarten is a mass destruction zone every time we go in and labels will be your friend.

You can do so cheaply, and the labels don’t come off unless you rip them off so we love them.

We use Mabel’s Labels for everything from clothing to lunch box items, and we highly recommend ordering them online.

New! Lunch Box Labels at Mabel’s Labels
Allergy Alert Labels
Ultimate Back-to-School Combo Pack
Preschool Shoe labels

I looked at our Mabel’s labels from junior kindergarten, and we still have some left however, we purchased an Ultimate Back To School Combo Pack to get us to the end of the year.

You can also use a marker if you wish but we like to sell our gently used clothing afterward and prefer not to have them permanently marked with our son’s name.

That would be the cheapest option if you don’t have the budget for Mabel’s labels.

Lunch Boxes For Kindergarten Kids

Honestly, this was the hardest and most stressful part of buying back-to-school supplies for our son.

We have a picky eater on our hands so not knowing the right type of lunch box was overwhelming.

Initially, we purchased the Roots lunch bag from Costco, which we did use throughout his junior kindergarten year.

Packing his lunch meant having containers he could open easily, and the Roots containers that came with the lunch were horrible.

We started using the mini Tupperware containers we labeled but often didn’t come home or a lid would go missing.

Finally, we ended the year using sandwich bags packed in his Roots lunch bag because it was easier for everyone.

We didn’t like the waste the baggies produced, so we went hunting for something better this year.

Back then, lunch was packed in a paper bag with tinfoil or plastic wrap.

If you were lucky and had a plastic lunch box, you had a thermos filled with a drink or hot meal.

Times have changed, and so have lunch boxes for the kids, and they can come with a hefty price tag.

Lunch Box Ideas For Kindergarten

I asked some of my readers on Facebook to share what lunch boxes they used for their kiddos, and the feedback was great.

Luckily, we found a lunch box at Value Village for $4.99, similar to a bento box, and our son can easily open it.

We will give that a try to start the year and see how that goes, and if it’s a flop, then we will spend the money and buy a Yumbox.

I mean, you want this part of the back-to-school process to be simple, not stressful, and if that means spending money to buy a lunch box that works, then so be it.

Budget is very important, so saving in one area frees up cash to spend in other areas where you can’t control costs.

Keep Hydrated At School

Along with lunch boxes, you’ll need to send a water bottle or juice bottle to school with your child.

Kindergarten Contigo Water Bottles

We’ve successfully used Contigo Auto-Spout water bottles for our son to bring water and milk daily.

The best part is the locking feature and no spills, which every parent should look for.

If paying $36 for a three-pack of Contigo bottles is out of your budget, you can look for other options or source them second-hand.

They are worth the money but don’t forget to label them.

Related: Back To School Lunch Ideas

Regarding lunch box ideas for your kindergarten kiddo, here are some frugal and expensive options to consider.

Popular back-to-school lunch box options are Yumbox, Bento boxes, Bentgo, Planet Box, Tupperware lunch boxes, and Rubbermaid Lunch Bloks.

Bentgo Lunch Box

Bentgo lunch box

This is the BentGo Box which is a popular option for parents who want something simple and leakproof for $36.99.

  • IDEAL PORTIONS FOR KIDS: 5 practical compartments portioned perfectly for a child’s appetite (recommended for ages 3-7).
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Drop-proof, rubber-coated edges and sturdy design are ideal for active kids on the go, all made with BPA-free and FDA food-grade materials.
  • LEAK-PROOF TECHNOLOGY: Keeps meals and snacks fresh and mess-free during transport – Includes 2 kid-friendly latches that are easy for small hands to open and close.

Bento Box

bento box lunch box

This is a simple Bento Box lunch box for kids that has separate compartments for the foods they love and comes with utensils.

Since our son is a picky eater, we would never benefit from a lunch box like this, but if your child loves the variety, it’s a great option at only $31.20.

  • DEAL KIDS BENTO BOX LUNCH BOX : Jeopace original is designed for kids,children and students.Our goal is to promote healthy & balanced eating.The 4 compartments are portioned perfectly to feed the appetite and comprehensive nutrition of kids,children,students,even adults. FOOD GRADE SAFE MATERIAL: Our bento box is made from FDA approved materials and it is BPA free. It is no smell, stain resistant and will not get moldy.

  • FOOD GRADE SAFE MATERIAL: Our bento box is made from FDA approved materials and it is BPA free. It is no smell, stain resistant and will not get moldy.

  • LEAK PROOF AND DURABLE DESIGN: The elastic sealing ring and snap lid work together well to form an airtight and leakproof seal. No worrying about food spillage on the go. The high-density wheat fiber material makes it sturdy and shock-proof. No need to worry about accident drop to the floor.

  • MICROWAVE,FREEZER & DISHWASHER SAFE : Microwave Safe(without lids, 2-4 mins under 248℉); Freezer Safe(≧-4℉); Dishwasher Safe(top rack only, hand washing is recommended for the lid to avoid any deformation caused by high temperature and pressure washing). This bento box is perfect for school, office, factory, home and outdoors. Put your pasta, chicken, salad, sandwich,fruit,snacks or sushi in it and enjoy it when and where you like.

  • PORTABLE&LIGHTWEIGHT&DURABLE : The dimension of 8.15 x 5.28 x 2.59 inches makes it portable and easy to carry.The perfect design of 900 ml VS 12.59 OZ makes it both large capacity and light weight.

Convenient Coloured Bento Boxes

bento plastic containers

We bought our son these Bento Lunch Boxes when he started junior kindergarten and struggled with his lunch box.

They are a great option as long as your child knows how to open and close the container, which can be tough for some kids.

At $24.95 for 7 boxes, it’s a great deal!

  • FREE Ice Pack+ 7 RAINBOW COLOR Compartment Bento Lunch Box
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED – 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • LEAK PROOF GUARANTEE under 98% scenarios – our tight test shows the lunch box won’t leak if you load a fairly amount of liquid.
  • BPA-FREE & FDA Approved

Fit And Fresh Lunch Box

fit and fresh divider meal with ice packs

This Fit and Fresh lunch box option for your child is great because it has built-in ice packs and costs only $13.99.

  • Divided lunch container designed to fit a sandwich or other entree and two healthy sides

  • Two removable ice packs snap into the lid to keep meal chilled

  • New TPE “soft touch” lid makes container easy to open and close

  • Large compartment measures 5.75″x5.5″ And small compartments measure 3.75″x2.75″ Each

  • Container is BPA free, dishwasher and microwave safe

Paper Bag Lunch

paper bag lunch bag

The cheapest option is the paper bag lunch bag which you can buy at any dollar store for a buck!

Insulated Lunch Bag

insulated lunch bag

The insulated lunch bag was what we had originally purchased for our son starting junior kindergarten.

We bought the Roots 73 insulated bag along with his backpack.

Although we tossed out the containers that came with it, the bag was valuable to us for the entire year.

We ended the year with the insulated bag, which we could add ice packs and easily clean.

You can purchase these insulated lunch bags fairly inexpensively, at just over $20.

  • EXCEPTIONAL INSULATED LUNCH BAG – high density water-resistant & dirt-proof fabric,with 8mm aluminum foil,durable and easy-to-clean interior lining. Perfect thermal insulated, keep food warm or drink cool at any time.

  • EXTRA STORAGE & MUTIFUNTION – The internal mesh pocket is great for holding knives, forks and spoons. The back pocket also offers extra space for condiments and napkin, keeping them close at hand. And the front zipper pocket can keep keys, phone and wallet easily accessible.

  • SMART DESIGN LUNCH BOX- Features an adjustable divider with velcro design to divide the main compartment into two sections which allow you to store hot and cold food separately.

  • CONVENIENT & VERSATILITY – Excellent Built quality with the simple and elegant style, this lunch bag is easy to be carried by kits.It is suitable for all people such as adluts, men,women and students and is also great for work, school, travel, and picnics. The exceptional insulation of the bag keeps the food at desired temperatures ready for consumption.

  • LIFETIME WARRANTY!!! PORTABILITY – The overall dimensions of the lunch bag are 9.05 x 3.9 x 10.6 in / 23 x 10 x 27cm ( L*W*H ) , perfectly fits your backpack and briefcase. Designed with a padded handle and a detachable/adjustable shoulder strap that offers multiple carrying ways and allows for effortless carrying. 3 Models like crossbody, shoulder bag and handbag, totally customizable for your different needs.

Rubbermaid Lunch Bloks

rubbermaid lunch bloks for kindergarten

The Rubbermaid Lunch Bloks is another popular option with parents and kids, and the price is only $22.99.

What we like about these lunch bloks is that they are easy to open and leakproof.

  • Bpa-Free lunch containers feature a silicone, airtight seal to help prevent leaks while on the go.
  • Durable latches are easy to open and close; containers snap to blue ice to keep your lunch chilled and fresh

  • Outer case can be used with or without leak-proof lunch containers for an all-in-one solution for on-the-go

  • Microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe; small kit includes: (1) 2.6 Cup small entree container, (2) 0.5 Cup snack containers, 1 outer case, 1 blue ice block

  • Available in reflecting pool blue or beet red; color may vary per order

Yum Box Lunch


This popular YUM BOX comes in various options and price points and is available at Indigo Chapters or Cute Kids Stuff online.

If you’re looking for a full YUM BOX, you can expect to pay $41.99.

The YUMBOX includes exterior box and tray insert illustrations. Five 1/2 cup portions (approximately 2.5 cups) of the key food groups plus dip/treat well.

Pack wet foods like yogurt and dips (not water).Ideal for toddlers-age 8.

This Yumbox is for kids that like variety. It’s perfect for picky eaters.Dimensions: 8.5 (l) x 6.5 (w) x 1.8 (h) inches, weighs 1 lbs 1.5 oz.

Plante Box Lunch

Planet box Canada

You can purchase the Planet Box stainless steel lunch box in Canada from Cute Kids Stuff (non-affiliate), but it will cost you $69.99 plus taxes.

PlanetBox is the smart lunchbox that guides you in packing a well-balanced meal quickly & easily. The Rover is designed for those who prefer to sample a wide variety of foods.

  • Holds about 5 cups of food, which happily satisfies most children and adults
  • Great for variety and versatility 
  • A designated place for a little treat 
  • Each Rover includes 1 Big Dipper and 1 Little Dipper

Kindergarten Back-to-School Supplies Budgeting

Sending your child to school for the first time or to senior kindergarten costs far more than you may think, so budgeting is vital.

If you can sit down and budget expenses the year before, you can project and save them so you have the money come August when back-to-school sales begin.

Alternatively, you can shop all year to find the best prices, which is the better option.

We expect to spend about $200 for our son to enter Senior Kindergarten with all his supplies, clothing, and accessories.

This could change as he grows, and we must purchase new items throughout the school year.

When saving money for going back to school, there are options to consider, but there’s always room to make adjustments.

Discussion: What back-to-school supplies or accessories do you need to prepare for your junior kindergarten or senior kindergarten child?

Leave me your comments below and any other information you feel should be added to this post.

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  1. My youngest starts JK this year. I bought his backpack and lunch bag at garage sales during the summer. I bought name labels on sale last year for daycare and still have lots left. We have no supply list but I know I need to send extra clothes which I always have and boxes of tissue. I also think I will send his own scissors as he is left handed and I know classrooms are often not prepared for lefties.

    1. That’s the way to do it. We found school supplies at the Goodwill far less than the Dollar store. If parents are willing to look there are savings besides waiting for store sales. I cant beleice the little one is starting school already. It seems like yesterday he was born. Time sure does fly

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