12 reasons Costco is the best place to shop for back-to-school deals

From laptops to snacks, the bulk retailer has great prices on everything your student needs.

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The commencement of the school year signals the end of summer fun, and the annual panic attack I have about buying school supplies, snacks, and other educational items. Thankfully I have a secret weapon: my Costco card.

On a recent trip to the bulk supply favorite, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many school essentials. As I wandered through the well-stocked aisles, I felt a great sense of relief to see everything I needed to get my son ready for his first day. Maybe it was all the cheese samples, but this year, school supply shopping felt very easy and satisfying.

Here are 12 reasons Costco is the best place to stock-up for everything back-to-school.

1. All the school supplies

School supplies
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Costco has all the school supplies your kids need.

While I’m generally suspicious of things that claim to be “all-in-one,” Costco offers a comprehensive selection of bundles that contain all the supplies your student will need for the coming year. Featuring No. 2 pencils, ruler, glue sticks, erasers, and more, this is a no-brainer for middle schoolers and beyond. The price was low enough that I even bought one for my home office.

2. Yep, they've got backpacks

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You're sure to find a backpack that's perfect for your child.

If you like to keep a semblance of order for your budding scholars, get them a good-quality backpack that can hold all of their school gear. Costco offers a large selection of backpacks for kids of all ages, but it's best to select one with padded straps and a back panel that make it easier to carry a fully-loaded bag. Check out our list of the best school backpacks if you need some guidance.

3. Lots of books for all ages

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Make reading fun with a new selection of books.

For those with grade schoolers, you have received the missive to read, read, read with your child. But if neither you—nor your budding scholar—can get through yet another read-through of Olivia, it's time to cruise the book tables at Costco. From board books to the latest literary fiction, Costco offer a great selection of books at a discount. We picked up a copy of The Roald Dahl collection, because it's equally fun for kids and grown-ups.

4. Everything you need for snacks and lunches

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Costco carries a huge selection of single-serve snacks.

The best part of back-to-school shopping is buying all the essential snacking items. Costco has plenty for young children to teens, plus they also carry lots of options for parents who need snack breaks, too. The items on regular rotation at our house include: Annie’s fruit snack packs for a healthy candy alternative, Kind Bars, Skinny Pop packs, and Hippeas. I also like to use Costco's single-serving salami packs and organic hummus as an easy lunch box staple.

5. A selection of reusable water bottles

Water bottles
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A reusable water bottle is a back-to-school necessity.

The thermos has drastically improved since the Strawberry Shortcake plastic one I used to carry. In this bright thermal future, there are many great water bottles to choose from (we tested a lot of them), and Costco is sure to carry at least one of our top picks. We went with the ThermoFlask kids insulated water bottle this year, because it's vacuum insulated to keep liquids cold all day, and because it's sold in a two-pack.

6. Laptops in every price range

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Costco carries a selection of laptops for every budget.

For your high school and college offspring in need of a new laptop, Costco has some remarkably economical options. With versions in the low $200 range, you are sure to find a computer to assist your child as they take steps towards intellectual autonomy. If you need help deciding which model to buy, check out our list of the best laptops for students.

7. Wardrobe staples

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Get a new back-to-school wardrobe along with their school supplies.

Don't bother going to the mall if you're already planning a trip to Costco. You can put together a back-to-school wardrobe at the same time that you're stocking up on Dino chicken nuggets. Costco carries everything you need to make sure your kid isn't wearing a too-small wardrobe when the first day of school arrives. We're partial to their selection of super hero underwear and soft cotton pajamas.

8. A variety of notebooks and pens

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Notebooks and pens are back-to-school must-haves.

Whether your kids prefer a notebook that's spiral bound, or a classic Moleskin, Costco offers multi-packs of each. Pair their favorite notebook with a big box of pens, so that you'll always have back-ups on hand when they inevitably lose the first batch you send to school with them. We love Pilot Gel Pens, which are an elevated version of the classic ball-point pen.

9. Bulk packs of juice boxes

Juice boxes
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Juice boxes will come in handy throughout the year.

Look, we all know that juice is bad for kids, but the reality is that you're going to eventually need it for parties or team sports. Grab a 40-pack of your favorite juice boxes while you’re shopping for school supplies, so you're ready for last minute hosting or snack duties.

10. Affordable musical instruments

Musical instruments
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You can find a variety of musical instruments at your local Costco.

If your child is musically inclined or joining the band, don't buy an instrument without shopping Costco first. My local store carries flute, trumpet, and clarinet bundles that cost under $200 and come with a music stand and carrying case. This ensures you won’t break the bank if suddenly your student decides to drop out of band and join the drama club.

9. A selection of great headphones

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Noise cancelling headphones can help reduce distractions.

If your student is dorm-bound, they are going to need a way to find privacy for their studies in the middle of chaos. A set of noise cancelling headphones provide the perfect respite from the world around them, and some offer Bluetooth connectivity so they can access their playlists anywhere on campus.

10. They still carry calculators

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A calculator still comes in handy for students.

Apparently, calculators are still a "thing" in 2019, and Costco carries a selection of different types so that your kid can science or graph to his or her heart's content. The best part is that they're sold in two-packs, so that you'll have a back-up when your child inevitably breaks or loses his.

11. Gear for kids who are college-bound

Book light
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A book light will come in handy for late-night cram sessions.

Another favorite for your college students is a light that helps them read after their roommate turns in for the night. Sold in packs of two, the book lights have a dimmer function that allows them to shed different levels of light depending on how considerate they want to be to their snoring roommate.

12. Bulk-sized pain relievers and vitamins

Pain relievers
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Stock-up on pain reliever and vitamins before flu season hits.

If back-to-school shopping doesn't give you a headache, helping your kids with homework definitely will. Don't leave Costco without buying a super-sized bottle of Tylenol or Advil for yourself, and children's pain reliever for your child's first-of-the-year fever. Grab some bottles of vitamins and supplements, too, to keep your children healthy when cold and flu season sets in.

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