College students and K-12 parents are estimated to spend record highs during 2019 back to school season, according to The National Retail Federation (NRF). The easiest place to save smart? Food and drinks.  

So feel good buying the fancy pencils and cool calculator. You can cut down your bill with these smart back-to-school food hacks. Bonus: they follow the healthiest food/beverage trends to boost brainpower and wellness.  

Let's get that B- to an A+, shall we?  

    1. Shelf Stable Drinks 

Whether you have a four-hour lecture or need to pack a cubby lunch, fortified shelf-stable beverages are a must-have. 'Shelf-stable' means the drink requires no refrigeration before consuming. Trusting shelf-stable items eliminates food safety issues that come with food and drinks not being kept at correct temperatures. Today, shelf-stable options go beyond soda and juice to include organic, low-sugar tea, coconut water, cold brew, and even kombucha. Pro tip: Chill your drink and use it as an ice pack to keep other, more perishable, items chill all morning. 

Shelf-stable drinks also save money at home, since they last longer without refrigeration. Because there's no worse feeling than dumping out an unopened drink gone bad.  

    2. Pasta, Pasta, Pasta 

It's a school night. Everyone is tired and strapped for time. Rely on delicious, quality pasta to make everyone happy. Kids and adults alike agree on this meal. Easy to make, pasta can also be nutritious if you opt for Organic egg pasta instead of processed wheat.  

During the hectic back to school season, pasta can provide much-needed face time with friends and loved ones. It's a rich, satisfying, social food. So take a break from homework and relax together over a meal.  

    3. Bulk Up 

Buy. In. Bulk. Single-serving food and drinks always cost more than bulk. If your local grocery store doesn't sell cases and you don't belong to a membership wholesale club, order online. Bulk items are traditionally shelf-stable (woohoo!) and mean fewer trips to the store every week. Bulk can also streamline the meal-prep process.  

Keep your produce as fresh as possible while turning to bulk for drinks, snacks, and non-perishables.   

    4. Add Nutrients & Probiotics  

Our food and drinks need to do more than fill our stomachs; they must fill our cells with healthy, fortified nutrients that promote mental and physical wellness. Back-to-school food and drinks that are functional will save you money by eliminating excess junk snacks. (Of course, a few cookies are necessary for the soul.) Functional drinks with added nutrients like potassium, Vitamin C, and electrolytes, along with good-digestion probiotics, will give you the most bang for your buck.  

Fortified drinks like those with probiotics and nutrients can also boost the immune system, potentially decreasing sick days and pricey doctor visits, while improving mood, digestion, and mental performance.  

    5. Hydrate Smart to Be Smart

Healthy hydration is overlooked in school. Younger children are given sugar-heavy juices and flavored milk while college students drink coffee and energy drinks by the gallon. Invest in healthy hydration (preferably bought in bulk, shelf-stable), for a quick and refreshing beverage that helps mental focus and overall mood.  

Staying hydrated can aid in digestion and make you feel fuller longer as well. Plus, it's essential for a healthy brain... which could be the difference between a B- and A+.