» Our favorite back to school essentials

It’s that time of year. And I secretly love it. I have always enjoyed the anticipation of the new school year and all the fresh pencils and clean sneakers it brings. So back to school shopping is something I tend to hop on early, looking for the most useful items at the best price. Today I want to share some of our favorite tried and true items with you! These are all items we have used for an extended amount of time and highly recommend.

Lunch Boxes

  • Flip Top and Discovery Lunch box
  • Plenty of room inside

We only buy lunch boxes from L.L.Bean. And I ALWAYS wait for a sale or purchase the marked down colors. They have so many great choices, even in the clearance area (check out current sales here). We like L.L.Bean because the patterns are fun and not characters or other patterns the kids will outgrow. They also have a lifetime warranty on things like zippers. We have tested this warranty and they quickly replaced Liam’s lunchbox, no hassle, when his outer zipper kept getting stuck. Additionally, they are one of the roomiest lunch boxes we’ve found. We also use ebates before shopping at L.L.Bean, and everywhere else, to get 3% cash back on our purchases. It’s as simple as remembering to click on ebates website before shopping.

Lunch Containers


We love the ease of bento-box type containers. But I’m not into spending upwards of $20 each on a container that may or may not wash well in the dishwasher. We used the 3 compartment ziplock containers for a couple of years but found that Target stopped carrying them. They also weren’t super durable and had to be replaced every couple of months. I found these awesome containers on Amazon and took a chance on them. They are very durable, much thicker than the ziplock containers and we love the colorful lids. They are also leakproof and have a tab that makes it easy for small hands to open. And $10 for a set of 6 is my kind of price.


We also like the Konserve stainless containers for items like yogurt or fruit. For our salad lover this also holds just the right portion for a 1st grader. They wash up perfectly in the dishwasher as well. I’ve got my eye on their sweat-proof ice packs to purchase when our current ones bite the dust. Their focus on sustainability and our eco-system is the icing on the cake!

Water Bottles


We typically use Nalgene bottles (love the durability and price point) but I love the Camelback Chute for school. The valve is perfect for smaller folks who tend to get drenched when they try to drink from my Nalgene. They are leakproof and get this… because this is the magic… the lid always stays connected to the bottle. Like always. Even in the dishwasher. We have lost many a lid to the lid graveyard. Such a waste, and often a new lid costs as much as the original bottle. For this reason, and the no leaking part, we adore the camelback chute. Check out the picture to understand the lid feature. Oh… and no gross straws either.

Back Packs


Our backpack choice seems a little old school but nostalgia and that lifetime warranty brought me back to JanSport. I remember when I HAD to have one of these and I think they are ready for their comeback after seeing the crazy fun patterns and products they are offering. Again, we like to stay away from characters to give the items we buy our kids a longer life. Charlotte and Lola picked out these fun patterns and I’ve had to stop myself from acquiring that banana backpack myself.


About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal