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I have to third the recommendation for L.L. Bean backpacks. DS went through 3 cheap character backpacks in kindergarten. Before 1st grade we got him an L.L. Bean backpack and it still looks great 2 years later. We'll probably get him a new backpack when he starts middle school, but it won't be because this one has worn out.

If your kids don't like the styles L.L. Bean has, I also recommend Land's End. DS has one for travel, and it has also help up well. DD starts preschool once a week this year, and I actually can't decide which of the two brands to get her :).

If you want an easy, waste free lunch I recommend the Goodbyn containers: Their binto box is great is your kids bring only things that don't need to be kept hot or cold. They also sell insulated bags, ice packs, and containers to put in the bags.
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