Cherie Lowe: Stock up on summer supplies

The first week of summer break brought many wonderful perks to our household. We slept a little later than usual. We played outside in the beautiful weather. We visited friends and family, stretching bedtime beyond the hours we typically keep.

But on Day 3, I realized we needed to stock up — on food, on summertime necessities, on clothes and extras for upcoming camps.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to pause and think through all you might need for the months of June and July. Having what you need on hand saves you from the drive thru or worse — a convenience stop where you’ll pay four to five times more than necessary.

Here’s what’s on our summertime “Must Have” list.


Our family is a people of the pale skin. The first thing I do at any outdoor activity or party is find the one piece of shade where I can hide from the sun. Gingers burn easily, and sunblock isn’t optional anytime of the year, but especially during the summer.

Think you have to pay a high dollar to net the best protection for your skin? Think again. Consumer Reports named their 2017 top five picks for sunblock, and three of the five spots were occupied by Walmart’s Equate line. Snag a couple of bottles now before you’re in a pinch and have to pay more than necessary.


Finding affordable swimsuits that stand the test of time (and pool chemicals) can be a challenge, especially when you’re purchasing them for your kids. This year, I let my teen click around Amazon for an hour or so, deciding what sort of suit she’d like for the season. She found an adorable option that we both loved and, bonus, it was only $10. For my younger daughter, I’m a big fan of the Speedo suits you can find for about $12 at Sam’s Club.


I’m not sure how my kids ever survive the school day. When they’re home for the summer, they seem to need a snack every 15 minutes. Luckily, they’re capable of attending to their own needs, but I intentionally stocked up on easy-to-fix, mess-free items to keep them fueled this year. It’s a good idea to purchase items that can be easily tossed into a cooler or bag in case you decide to take a spontaneous day trip.

At the top of our list are granola bars, applesauce cups and pouches, cheese sticks, popcorn, fresh fruits and veggies, and of course popsicles.


Not unlike snacks, it’s a good idea to have drink options on hand for the summer months. This year, I purchased a couple of good reusable water bottles for my girls to use. They’ll carry them to camp and day activities, refilling them at home and on the go.

I also picked up a couple of backup flats of bottled water, too. I’m a realist. I know that somedays the dishes might go undone and we’ll need a spare in an emergency. Be sure to label the bottles well so you can claim them if/when they get left behind.

It’s also not a bad idea to stock up on the ingredients needed for your favorite summer sipper. Lemons (if refrigerated) and lemonade mix both have a decent shelf life. Go ahead and pick them up so you can whip up a summertime fav at the drop of the hat.

Laundry detergent

You’re more likely to have a heap of laundry this summer. Between vacations and day camps, weekends away and swimming lessons, clothes mate and multiply during warmer months. We make our own detergent in the ratios of 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 Cup of Oxycleaner. I made a batch big enough to last the entire summer. The best part about our homemade blend is that it only takes 1 T of the mix to wash an entire load of clothes, so it lasts a long time. I’ve also fallen in love with a product made just for workout clothes (ewww those get extra stinky during the summer) named Defunkify. I purchased some of it, too, since I know we’ll be running 5Ks, riding bikes and getting buff at the gym this summer.

Summertime can be filled with unexpected expenses. Don’t even get me started about the summer that I spent MONTHS and way too much money trying to get rid of a mean case of poison ivy. But by stocking up at the beginning of the journey, you’ll have more cash to spend on the things you really want to do this year.