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Wisconsin Parent

Hot New Items for Back to School

Jul 15, 2014 10:06PM ● By Dannelle Gay

Those three words: Back to school.

They make me feel like Meg Ryan in the movie You've Got Mail! I LOVE the smell of new pencils, wandering down through the aisles of school supplies, and figuring out how to get the best deals for my dollar.

I was beyond tickled with this project: coming up with the list of the hottest new things to make school lunch, after school snack time, and "mommy therapy" easier. Did you know that the US average price for school lunches is $3.75 a day? Multiply that by 180 days of school and you are dropping $675 - PER CHILD!!


Packing a lunch can save SOOOO much money and comes with the added benefit that you are in control of what your kiddo puts into their body. With a rough 30 day schedule for all the little people's organs to repair themselves, why not give them great and nutritional material to work with?

Before I start the list... we looked at a LOT of things.

  • Safety: BPA Free, Lead Free, Phtalate free
  • Practicality: Do things stay cold, do they fit correctly, do they stain?
  • Made in the USA: Definite plus!
  • Warranty/Guarantee: We all hate having to buy something new every year when an item should last a few years, right?
Let's start with the "lunch box":

Hands down, the favorite was the Neat-Oh line of insulated bags! They have a delightful variety from 3+ on up for either boys or girls. SEVEN HOURS they keep cool things cool so you don't have to worry about possible food poisoning of your peanut. We found them easy to use, easy to clean and so stinking cute! Purple Zebras, Albert Airplane, even a fun Go Sport Line!


Now, what do you put in your lunch box? We need containers!

Trudeau has a new line called FUEL that we fell in love with. Made from recycled materials, that eco-friendly aspect had us sold. Paired with the fact that they are great sizes, often include built in ice packs and who could go wrong?

Their Bento Box, and Snack 'N Dip topped our charts, followed closely by the Salad On The Go.


Do you have a microwave available to use?

If so, you need to check out the CREO line! These clever Creo collapsible food storage containers might be the most versatile that we have found on the market this fall—they can be used in the oven, microwave, freezer, and even dishwasher! NO STAINING happened during our tests and their vacuum seal design prevented leaks too. Several sizes available:

  • Small Round: 13.5 oz (400ml) 5.75 x 5 x 2.75"
  • Small Square: 16.9 oz (500ml) 5.3 x 5.3 x 2.6"
  • Small Rectangular: 27.1 oz (800ml) 7.1 x 5.4 x 2.6"
  • Large Square: 33.8 oz (1000ml) 7.0 x 7.0 x 2.9"
  • Large Rectangular: 50.7 oz (1500ml) 8.5 x 6.9 x 3.1"

Now, fun tools to create all those yummy treats!

KOKOBU was the master here, offering everything from hard boiled egg molds to veggie shapers! It really isn't that time consuming to make Bento meals, especially when you have the correct tools to do it. I, personally, make lunches on a Sunday afternoon. (You will read more about Bento in another article of mine).

img-kk-062-simg-2127-simg-kk-060-sNow, it's after school and we frantically shuttle our precious offspring to the afternoon activity of the day.

Tervis Tumblers to the rescue! Lifetime guarantee, made in the USA, and a a size for everyone!? Fitting in any vehicle upholder, the Tervis 12 oz, 16 oz, even a massive "mommy's sippy cup". All have about a billion different designs availableDisney, Dr Seuss, Hello Kitty, Patriotic, Marvel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peanuts, Star Wars, the list goes on ...

JUSTKIDS_SF_16Snacks On The Go We need to power up the little people and have found a few fun things.


1) Clif Zbar with Protein. This product uses organic whole grains and it has a shot of protein to help those soon to be active muscles from dance, gymnastics, soccer, etc.  There are NO partially-hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, synthetic preservatives, or artificial flavors. Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter are the 3 flavors right now and come in a box of 5 for under $5. I never got to try them because Miss Sarah loved them so much. 


2) Chef M.J. Brando Microwave Grilled Cheese This is a new items on the market and a quick/easy snack to eat in the car! Using artisan bread, you have a choice of Cheddar or American cheese. We did find that the recommended 90 seconds was too long, 70-75 worked better. This is a LOT better than hitting a drive-thru to pick up a quick sandwich for energy.

We were delighted to see all the great new things that are out there and appreciate the companies that let us sample and test them! While we are only sharing our "top picks" with you, rest assured, our surplus is donated through a church group to whom they may be useful for.

What is your favorite new "HOT" item for back to school?