Well. It's that time already.

Every store you walk into has a section of back-to-school supplies all set up (or almost — the El Con Target is a mess FYI) for easy shopping. 

So, we thought it would be a good time to check around and see who has the best prices, cutest backpacks and lunch boxes. 

I set out Wednesday morning and scoped out Fry's, Walmart, Target and Office Max. 

The prices were pretty competitive between Fry's, Walmart and Target, with less than a dollar difference on the total cost of our list. 

Office Max is always quite a bit more expensive (by about $7), so I didn't include them in the price comparison, but the store has some awesome backpacks and super cute extras that you'll see if you scroll down. Plus, if you really want to avoid crowds, it might be the place for you. 

Fry's ended up being least expensive when it came to basic school supplies for the kiddos, but was most expensive for classroom needs. Walmart was cheapest in that category. Target is a little pricier on school supplies but only by about 80 cents. 

A few items have different counts because not all stores carry the exact same package of pencils, so the value might be a little different on certain things. 

Check out the side-by-side comparison below. Click to make it bigger.

We checked prices of school supplies at three major chains

Back-to-school pro-tip: Don't wait until the week school starts to get supplies. You may think prices will drop, but they won't. There just won't be anything left. I made the mistake of doing this one year and ended up at Walgreens purchasing the last pocket folder they had for more money. 

Here are a few highlights from each store.


Target has the best selection of backpacks by far. You'll find Wonder Woman, Jurassic World, mermaid, sequins — you name it, it's probably at Target. They also have some adorable lunch boxes. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Sequins and mermaid scales!!! These backpacks are so fun and pretty inexpensive at $17.99 for the sequins and $15.99 for the mermaid one. 

Harry Potter and Jurassic World. How do you pick? Both are $29.99

This Wonder Woman backpack has a golden lasso! And, this other one is just so girly and comes with a hair bow. WW is $17.99 and the bow one is $14.99

For the adventurer. Both are $14.99

Now, some lunch boxes:

This grumpy face lunchbox will keep people from stealing your lunch. It's $8.99

OMG! I want the mermaid one for myself. They're $7.99 each. 

Target also has pretty cute stuff for teachers to decorate the classroom at the dollar section when you walk in the store.


You don't necessarily think back to school shopping when you think of Fry's, but they have some surprisingly cute things there. So, do your food shopping AND back-to-school shopping in one convenient trip. 

Look how adorable and just $9.99

These are also only $9.99.

Unicorns and dinosaurs!!! These adorable lunch boxes are only $9.99 with your Fry's VIP card. 

I love these water bottles for the kids. They're $7.99 with your Fry's VIP card. 


Walmart has a huge selection of folders, notebooks, pens and pencils, but not as many backpacks and lunch boxes as Target. It has adorable extras that are probably  not on  your child's list, like mermaid and unicorn notebooks and monster pencil pouches. 

I'm so glad sequins is still trending. Look how adorable this owl lunch box is. It costs $8.97.

For your future space explorer. It costs $6.97.

These water bottles are only $0.98

These monsters are hungry for pencils and cost $3.97.

Mermaids and unicorns are all over the place. Yas! Unicorn notebook is $0.88 and Shell Yeah is $1.96

Office Max

This place is great for adorable extras like donut pens and cupcake pencils. You'll be tempted to shop for yourself here, too. Plus, it's quiet and less chaotic than other stores. 

Oh, and if you have kids who are totally into slime, go here. There's an entire end cap with slime themed stuff from Nickelodian. You won't find these at any of the other stores I visited. 

Slime everything at Office Max. I haven't seen these anywhere else. 

You'll probably want one of these for yourself. It's a saguaro or unicorn pouch notebook for $2.99

Check out the Moana backpack. I didn't see these anywhere else. And, it's 25 percent off, so it'll cost you $18.74. You're welcome.

Cute pencil pouches for $2.

More adorable pencil pouches for $6.

Mmmm. Donuts. 

Told ya the extras are super cute. 

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson