Category : Back to School

Now that the new school year is underway for most of us, it is time to go back to the daily grind of packing lunches, carpooling and homework. And if your kids are anything like mine, then they get tired of daily PB&J sandwiches so I am always on the hunt for creative, yet healthy lunch ideas. Here are some basic and super simple rules I try and remember while creating school lunches to ensure my son is getting the healthiest lunch possible. Keep in mind that my children are not fancy eaters and if I packed my son’s lunch with a couscous, salmon and spinach roll he would scoff and throw it at my face.

Cover all (or most) of the basic food groups

healthy lunch tips

By USDA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Remember to try and pack most if not all of the food groups. Which include a protein, a dairy, a fruit, a veggie and a grain.

Kid friendly examples of the basic food groups include:

Apples with yogurt dip and a whole grain ham sandwich with a slice of American cheddar cheese.

PB&J or (PB&Almond Butter) whole grain sandwich, carrots and ranch dip and a cutie orange.

Sunchips, a whole apple and a BLT sandwich on whole-wheat bun with light mayonnaise.

Turkey hotdog in a bun, grapes and crunchy celery sticks.

First Day of School Bento

photo via Bento-logy

If you want to stray away from the everyday traditional sandwich, there is always the popular Bento boxes option as we covered here on Savvy Sassy Moms The Bento Box Lunch CraZe a few months ago. Bento boxes are a great way to pack in tons of nutrition in a fun, bite-sized way that your kids will be sure to love. Not to mention that the possibilities are endless and you can get as creative as your free time lets you.


Pack 100% juices, or better yet pack water. If it is going to be a particularly hot day, I like to pop the juice container in the freezer when I wake up in the morning so that it will be extra cold by lunchtime-that also doubles as an ice pack that will keep the rest of the lunch cool.


I mean, kid’s lunches are just not the same without a chocolate chip cookie or two. Packing a dessert in your kid’s school lunches also helps teach self-control. I have told my son that he can have his dessert once he has finished the rest of his lunch (whether he actually waits or not I have no idea but his lunchbox is always empty when he comes home).

Don’t Forget the Lunchbox!

Any lunch is even tastier in an adorable (or awesome if your child is a boy) lunchbox. Check out these 10 Adorable Lunch Box For Kids picks from Savvy Sassy Mom Esther.

A Little Something Extra
Freebie Love notes from Love From Ginger

Freebie Love notes from Love From Ginger

A little love note written on a post-it note, a special sticker or whatever else you can think of that will tell your child in the middle of their day that you love them and think about them often. My 6 year old actually requested that I do this for him.

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Savvy Sassy Sponsored Post

Ah, the first day of school. We either have fond memories or shutter at the thought of having to go back. I for one fall somewhere in between. I was kind of a nervous kid, and never like the uncertainty that the first day of school brought. Would I be able to find my friends on the playground? Would my favorite art teacher be back? Would my pigtails hold up during PE? All-important questions for any grade schooler headed back to the classroom. Yet the excitement of a new year was always an underlying happiness.Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 12.35.44 AMFor some reason I remember the first day of first grade very well. I went to a private Catholic school, and it was the first year that I had to wear a uniform. I was so excited to put on my green plaid jumper. (Little did I know that, that jumper would become the bane of my existence in sixth grade because it was totally uncool by then). My mom had done my hair in a perfect high ponytail. My new high tops were laced just perfectly and my backpack never looked better. Funny how the rest of the school year is a blur but that one first day of school continues to remain clear as day.


My first day of school photos from freshman year of high school, kindergarten and preschool.

Now, as my son heads off to pre-kindergarten, I see a bit of myself in him. He super excited to be a big boy in a new classroom, but anxious to see if he’ll find the same familiar faces he spent so much time with in summer camp.

So, to ease his worries, we read the new book from Scholastic, “Tony Baloney, School Rules.” The lead character is a charming penguin who’s excited to go to school, so he can get away from his pesky siblings. But when his older sister tells him that school requires students to follow rules, he’s worried that he won’t be able to do it.  What ensues is a first day of school filled with fun, foibles, and unexpected surprises! With its irresistible, highly relatable boy hero Tony, great comic writing, and hilarious illustrations, it’s a shoe in for repeat reads.

“Tony Baloney, School Rules,” is targeted at kindergarten through second grade readers, features brightly colored images, and the humor is perfect for the grade school crowd. And, it will make a great addition to any young reader’s budding library.

Tony Baloney School Rules

Moms, what are some of the most memorable back to school memories you have from childhood?

The writer of this story was given a free copy of Tony Baloney, School Rules, but the opinions expressed are her own.

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BTS lunch boxes

So Little Miss isn’t quite old enough to be in school yet (thank God! I’m just dreading the day when I realize my baby is that old!), but that doesn’t stop me from eyeing all of the adorable back-to-school gear that’s everywhere right now. And this includes lunch boxes. Yes, lunch boxes. I have such fond memories of being sent to school with my lunch lovingly prepared and packed in a paper sack or a vintage-looking Curious George lunch box, that I can’t wait to do the same for my little rugrats one day (minus the actual time part ;)) So for all you moms with kids heading off back to school,  here’s a roundup of my favorite finds for packing those school lunches.

1.BUILT Big Apple Buddies Insulted Lunch Sack  – How cute is this little doggie lunch bag? It’s the perfect size for younger kids and will fit “a sandwich, fruit or veggies, a juice box, and a small ice pack.” It’s also BPA, lead and phthalate-free.

2. Yubo lunchboxes – These adorable lunchboxes come with customizable faceplates so you can give it a refreshed look every year AND have your child’s name printed on it! I love the modern chevron patterns, and the fact that the handle can be on the top or the side. Inside is an assortment of accessories to make bento lunch packing a breeze!

3. Sugar Booger Matryoshka Lunch Tote  – I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for matryoshka doll-printed anything, and this lovely lunch tote is no exception. It’s insulated, wipes clean and comes with two compartments.

4. Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Aqua Dot Lunch Bag  – This bag is so cute I’d totally carry it to work! I love that you can get your child’s name embroidered on it, and that it’s roomy enough to fit in a lunch and a water bottle.

5. Fluf Organic Robot Lunch Bag – Who doesn’t love robots?! I love Fluf’s line of eco-friendly lunch bags (great ones for adults too!) and how the entire bag is… wait for it… machine washable! Hallelujah!

6. Skip Hop Insulated Lunch Bag  – I’ve seen these everywhere, and for good reason – they’re adorable and practical! We actually have the Owl version to pack snacks or meals on the go and it’s just the perfect size, but that’s not to say the rest of the animals in the line up (like this giraffe) aren’t equally as awww-worthy.

7. Wildkin Dino-Mite Lunch Box  – I’m loving the dinosaur print on this spacious lunch tote. It features mesh pockets inside for napkins, condiments or silverware, tabs to secure water bottles with, and is completely wipeable.

8. Dwell Studio Owl Lunch Tote – I love everything Dwell Studio, and this lunch box is no exception. Featuring their popular Owls Sky print, this insulated tote is as stylish as it is functional.

9. Beatrix Dolce & Panna Lunch Box  – Awww, two ice cream cones sitting in a tree…this machine-washable insulated zippered lunch box comes in a variety of equally adorable graphics for both boys and girls.

10. Itzy Ritzy Lunch Happens Bento Lunch Box  – I love this ingenious two level lunch box. It comes with compartments to make bento lunch packing simple, and without having you have to fumble around for matching lids and the like.

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I don’t know about you but I’m sure ready to send the kids back-to-school. We’ve had a great summer, full of fun, but I’m one that craves the routine of the school year and I think the kids behave better with structure too. Therefore, I get really excited about back-to-school shopping.

Back-to-School Gear


MadPax ‘Later Gator’ Backpack (Boys) / Bento box Kingyo Fish | Lunch box from Japan / 5.875X8.25″ Greenroom Recycled Spiral Metallic Notebook Assorted / TOPSHOP Dinosaur Notebook / LEGO Eraser Set / Macaroon French Pastry Eraser / J.Crew Herschel Supply Co.® for crewcuts Settlement backpack in stripe / Mackenzie Lavender Cheetah Backpacks / Gap Senior Colorblock Backpack – olive camo / Gap Monster Backpack – orange stripe / Gap Senior Heart Print Backpack – gemstone / Levi’s Lunch Box / baby girl accessories owl mini backpack / monster mini backpack / baby girl accessories cat mini backpack / Herschel Supply Co ‘Settlement’ Backpack (Girls) / Garnet Hill Kids’ Lunch Pack – Garnet Hill / Circo Bento Lunch Box with Water Bottle for Girls Small / Sigg Horses – 13.5 oz / Sigg Dino – 13.5 oz / Lunchskins 2 Frog Multipack Bag Green / Kids Pencil Bags – Garnet Hill


Picking a backpack is the first thing because after that, everything falls into place. While my kids wear a uniform to school, a backpack is the one thing they get to have that really expresses their personality. This year it’s all about stripes, monsters, animals and animal prints when it comes to backpack styles.

Next up is lunch. Usually the lunch box matches the backpack but in our family, we love to mix it up and get something different. The bento box style lunch boxes are the ones my kids love because nothing smashes together making sandwiches soggy and the fruit gross. Don’t forget the extra water bottle either, because hydrating with H2O is key during the warm fall months.

For school supplies, it’s fun to get something unique like Lego and macaroon erasers, and a notebook that, may or may not, be used for doodling too. It’s so fun to get lost in all the new styles that they have now…makes me nostalgic for the good old days!

Do you like back-to-school shopping with your kids?

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As a child, my favourite part of back-to-school shopping was getting brand new gear & supplies. I loved pristine, never-been-used notebooks, fun pencil cases and new fall clothes. Now that I’m a parent, I still get excited at the thought of back-to-school shopping for my daughter (though labeling every single item down to each individual crayon is not a part of the excitement). I especially love finding fun pieces for her wardrobe & school supplies that really allow her personality to shine through.

unique back to school suppliesMinnebites Shark

I did a bit of hunting on my all-time favourite site, Etsy, and found some great items for children’s supplies and adorable outfits that will have them looking back-to-school savvy with ease. One of the coolest items I found are these minneBites pencil bags.  They are absolutely adorable and are sure to get any child excited for their first day!

I also found some trendy chevron monogrammed backpacks, customized water bottles and reusable sandwich bags.  There are a ton of items to choose from that will fit within your budget, yet look effortlessly stylish and unique. Take a look at all my picks below!

For the boys:

Back To School for Boys


1. First Day Of School Chalkboard –  $25.00 – delight designs custom vinyl 2. Back To School Shirt – $16.95 – Mumsy Goose 3. Personalized Notebook – $11.50 – Precious Papers 4. Cartoon Vinyl Backpack – $25.00 – Back To Skool 5. Waterproof Labels – $9.95 – Lollipop Labels 6. Bug Pencil Bag – $30.00 – minne bites 7. Reusable Eco Sandwich & Snack Bags – $18.00 – Island Picnic

For the girls:



1. Personalized Water Bottle – $16.95 –  Kitchen Ville 2. Bright Ideas Notebook – $6.04 – The Happy Pencil Shoppe 3. Back To School Shirt & Skirt – $34.00 – That’s Presh 4. Hand Stamped Allergy Bracelet - $12.00 – Stamp Blanks 5. Apple Hair Bows – $15.00 – Girly Kurlz 6. Personalized Backpack – $38.00 – Sew Raes 7. Personalized Pencils – $10.00 – The Carbon Crusader

Have you started back to school shopping for your kids yet?
What is one of their back-to-school must-haves?


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It’s become a semi-standard thing to have reusable snack and sandwich bags in my house. (When not using reusable bags we use snap lid plastic containers.) I’ve tried many different types of reusable sandwich bags over the last 6 years and can say without any hesitation that neat-os sandwich bags are my favorite.

What these bags are made of

neat-os details

The one thing that I love love love about these bags is that they have a see through window so you can see what’s inside of them. They are also the most earth-friendly people-friendly bags out there. I love the coated canvas because it makes it so nothing sticks in there for life. Every piece of the neat-os bag is made in USA too!

neat-os are made of FDA certified food-safe materials.  All materials have been certified as bisphenol-A (BPA) free, phthalate free, PVC free, lead free and non-toxic.  The fabric is a cotton canvas that was designed for chefs and is coated in food safe plastic, that can withstand high temperatures and is non-abrasive, making it easy to clean lots of different ways.

Keeps produce fresh

One of the best things about Neat-Os is the fact that it keeps produce fresh for a long time. With the gallon size bag you can actually store produce, and have it stay longer in your refrigerator. Even when I use the snack size bag for apples or carrots for the kids lunch they come back as fresh as they left the house.

More about neat-os


The uses for neat-os bags is infinite. While it’s great for fresh produce and can be taken with you to the store for all of your produce needs it’s also just as great for the dry goods and snacks. It is an all around great reusable bag for packing lunches.


Once you get your bags your kids can decorate each one to make it their own by simply getting fabric markers. This way your child’s bag will be more likely to come home, and not get lost. Of course they’ll love being able to show off their artistic prowess to all of their friends.

It’s super easy to clean your neat-os bag. You can put them in the washer and dryer or in your dishwasher. The more you wash them the softer they get.

neat-os comparison

how neat-os compares

If you are looking for the best reusable storage bag look no further than neat-os.

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IMG_2116It’s that time of year again…back-to-school shopping time! And what better place to start your epic journey with your little lady than at The Children’s Place? Known for their affordable and stylish kids clothing, this is a one-stop shop for all your daughter’s back-to-school needs. And this season they’ve hit some of the top trends for girls right on the money.


Bright, bold colors and graphics

This season is all about sassy and bright colors. There were tons of fun top and bottom options for little girls to ensure maximum mixing and matching fun. From leopard print leggings to neon shirts and adorable prints with 3D accents like ribbons, glitter and lace girls are sure to have a ball picking out their favorite tops. For the less girly-girl, there are bold graphic prints that are right on point with the trends. There were also an awesome variety of frilly skirts to wear on top of the leggings or on their own.


Sparkle and Shine

Apparently this season is all about the more glitz, the better. Check out these sparkle covered high tops that all the girls in the store were going gaga over.  These shoes will certainly help add a little personality and flair to a basic school uniform.

IMG_2127Bohemian Rhapsody

The boho look is back and here to stay. From sweet peasant tops and dresses to fringed boots to embroidered details and even cowboy hats (with the requisite sparkle, of course), this look is sweet and feminine.  I also love how this look can be easily dressed up or down and is a simple weekend if your girls happen to have to wear a uniform during the week.


Urban Chic

Think leopard-print. Think faux leather. Think motorcycle boots. Add a pair of distressed jeans to the mix, and your little urban princess is good to go.  Some of the accessories were so cute I wished they made them in grown-up size!

Do you love some of the trendy fashions you see here?
Enter to WIN a $50 Gift Card to the Children’s Place!

Please enter this GIVEAWAY through the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Bullying is a topic that I think about often because my “little” little guy gets picked on a little bit
more than the average toddler. I not sure if it’s his size, demeanor or something in the universe, but it happens more often than not.  I feel conflicted about this topic for two reasons:

1) It breaks a momma’s heart to watch other kids strong arm toys from him, bop him on the head, push him out of the way and so on

2) On the other hand, this is a part of life and sooner or later my little guy is going to have to become emotionally tougher to survive as an adult

The question that I am stuck with is…how much is too much? I have some friends kids in elementary school that beg not to go to school the next day or the rest of the week because kids in their class are picking on them. Do you forcefully encourage them to forge through the bullies and become emotionally tougher or is this an emotional breaking point? How do you know? 

While I think about this side of bullying, I saw first hand at the park the other day the “other” side of bullying. The kid, we will call him “X” for reference, was a rather strong and taller 8 year old that came over to the sandbox to play with my little guy and 2 of his buddies who ranged in age of 2 to 6 years old. He started by grabbing the shovel out of my little guy’s hand, then took a toy car from another kid without asking and then began making a racetrack in the sand for the car. My 2 year old thought he would join in on the fun and went to help dig with X. Well, X was not looking for an assistant and went nose to nose with my little guy and telling him to go away and that he couldn’t play with him and that he was ruining everything. So what did I do? I pulled my little one away and then without thinking started telling X that this was not a nice way to play, sharing was a must and that we do not talk to people in this way and took the shovel and car away from him. I looked around and X’s parents were no where in sight. This situation happened several more times. After moving my two year old away each time, X situated himself back to my little one. As any 2 year old would, my little one tried to play with him again and then X would get back in his face. At some point my husband stepped in and told X that this was no way to play or make friends. After removing our little one for the last time, X sat there, turned bright red and started shaking and saying he is ruining my castle over and over again. As we all packed up our sand toys, my heart began to ache.

We always think about those that are bullied/picked on…but what about the kids that we never taught how to play with others, how to communicate or socialize in a positive manner. I felt terrible, X was desperately seeking interaction yet clearly wanted to dominate every situation while craving a friend to play with. Any parent could see that this child was in emotional distress; however, it is mine and my husband’s sole responsibility to take care of our child’s emotional well-being first. I have to remember that it is X’s parents responsibility to teach him how to interact with other children, how to share, how to keep his hands to himself. These are not innate qualities, they must be taught by an adult so that a child can be set up for success in life. I know this, but my heart still aches for this 8 year old kid…

Mommas weigh in…How do you deal with bullying? Parents of bullies? Overall thoughts?

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When I tell you something is the best on the planet, you know it’s serious. I’ve told you before I am a bit of a water bottle snob and I’ve already mentioned these Contigo water bottles in a round up of My Workout Essentials but, I have to tell you about the kids water bottles that are perfect for back to school. Four words. There is no spilling.  There is also no straw that gets nasty or lost, it’s simple, the kids just push a button and then it autoseal seals it shut. Brilliant..

Kids Water Bottles

kids water bottles It’s in the details: 

    • AUTOSEAL® Technology automatically seals between sips.
    • Phthalate- and PVC-free.
    • Push the button to sip, release the button to seal for easy, one-handed drinking.
    • Kids Cups are 100% spill-proof and 100% leak-proof.
    • Perfect for kids over 3 years of age who have outgrown sippy cups but haven’t outgrown spilling!
    • Kids Cups and Food Jars are top rack dishwasher safe for easy care.
Adult water bottles: 

These are called the Madison Water Bottle and I love them.

  • 100% BPA free.  No need to worry about the container you are drinking from - Contigo® makes only BPA free bottles.
  • Patented AUTOSEAL® lid is 100% leak-proof and 100% spill-proof.
  • Drinking made easy! Press to sip. Release to seal. AUTOSEAL® automatically seals between sips to ensure no spills.
  • One-handed water bottle operation for on-the-go drinking.
  • Water bottle is made out of Tritan™, which provides high impact resistance and won’t stain or retain odors.
  • Carabiner clip on the handle makes this water bottle easy to carry. Attach it to a bag strap for hands-free portability.
  • Water bottle is top-rack dishwasher safe.
  • Wide opening fits ice cubes.
  • Volume markings help you gauge water intake.
  • 24 oz. size fits most car cupholders.

If you like a water bottle with a straw feature then the AutoSpout Addison Water Bottles are for you.


Fall 2013 Update:

Contigo Kids Water Bottles

The latest addition to the Contigo Kids bottles are the AutoSpout Kids Water Bottle.  I jsut met a mom with five kids that also swears by these bottles.

Contigo Water bottle with storage The Contigo Kangaroo Water Bottle with storage.  Put your keys, money, ID card or metro pass in this handy compartment!

Still thirsty for more great water bottles? Don’t miss our round up of the best water bottles for summer!

No, I was not paid to write this.  You just have to have a great product to earn this kind of enthusiasm.  I was given these bottles at last years ABC Kids Expo and haven’t used another water bottle since.

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Last week was the first day of school for us and after Labor Day weekend even more kids will be starting there first day of school.  So as the homework begins to pile up,  you’ll want to make sure your kids backpack is safe!

Early this month I was a part of the Lands’ End Night School event in New York City where bloggers boarded big yellow school buses and headed to Night School, it was the perfect way to kick off the back-to-school season.  I was honored to be a brand ambassador for the event and work the Lands’ End “First day look” styling section.  Where bloggers got to style their most creative and fashionable outfits using all the fall clothing, accessories, shoes, backpacks and jackets from Lands’ End for a chance to win a $500 shopping spree!  The back to school and fall clothing for kids is simply adorable.

What would Back-to-School be without a brand new backpack!?

83% of parents said purchasing a new backpack adds to the excitement of a new school year and is something their kids look forward to.  Lands ‘End back -to-school parent survey

Buying a brand new backpack for the first day of school is always a must but I was shocked by this display showing just how heavy our kids backpacks can be!  Could you imagine having you child carrying a 10lb bag of sugar or a tire on their back?  Wow.

All Lands’ End backpacks are constructed with a host of innovative details including: a “no‐tip” design that keeps them standing upright when packed; adjustable chest straps; ergonomic design, padded shoulder straps and back panels; reinforced bottoms; finished interior seams; bartacked stress points; and reflective trim to help keep kids visible.

Perfect Packing - Make sure to follow these tips from our friends at Land’s End and the American Physical Therapy Association for a healthy and happy back to school season.

Shopping for Back to School clothes?  

It’s still hot here in Southern California so I tend to save some of my back-to-school shopping for when it gets a little cooler.  Which is great because I can take my time and find the quality pieces I really want to splurge for.   There are so many fun items in the Lands’ End Kids collection this year.  What I I love most about the collection is that, anything goes!  You can literally have your kids dress themselves, mix and match, layer up and they’ll look like they just walked out of the Lands’ End catalog!

71% of parents said kids will wear through their knees before the school year lets out.
Lands ‘End back -to-school parent survey

Moms do not miss out on the IRON KNEE – which is an innovative interior knee patch that adds double the durability. The invisible polyester patch is soft, pliable and undetectable from the outside.  Iron Knee is available in styles for girls and boys and will stand up after more than 50 washes and the toughest abuse kids can dish out.

Got Uniforms?  Be sure to check out the Lands’ End Uniform Shop and learn more about their preferred school program, you could earn money for your school!

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