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It's back-to-school time ... again! This year, the TODAY Parenting and Shop TODAY teams came together to make the transition from summer vacation to schoolwork as seamless as possible. We're bringing you the best back-to-school supplies, tips and tricks — all in one place.
Back to school shopping doesn't have to be synonymous with boring or tedious. In fact, if you're looking for a notable notebook, or a saucy snack bag, we've got the definitive list of what your kid needs to have in his or her backpack this year.
Of course, given the flood of items in stores and online, everyone could use a little guidance on where to spend, and what to skip.
"Be it saving time, reducing waste, clearing clutter — there is so much innovation to be found this season! As far as where to spend and where to save, I like to think of it as an equation of sorts: the frequency an item will be used plus the time and energy to be saved by using it equals how much more I am willing to spend on a better basic for back to school," said Jenn Falik, lifestyle blogger and fashion expert.
Here are her picks, and a few of our favorites!
Rocketboot Everlast Notebook, $30, Amazon
TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.
This very cool notebook features 36 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth, and can be reused forever and ever.
Rocketbook Wave Notebook, $27, Amazon
Both of these work like a traditional pen and paper version; this one has 80 pages. When they are full, you can scan them with the app and send the contents to the cloud. Meaning, no more crumpled papers or lost notes. Genius!
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure, $17, Amazon
The original PackIt lunch bag cooling technology is built into the walls of the bag so you'll never waste money on ice packs again.
PackIt Freezable Grocery Bag, $25, The Grommet
This is a very cool freezable bag that keeps your grub fresh and chilled.
Editor's note: sushi lovers, listen up! This gorgeous bamboo set is perfect for all your lunchtime rolls. Or shop here for more of the best lunch boxes for back-to-school.
Prepd Pack Lunchbox with Modular Food Storage Containers and Chopsticks, $69, Amazon
You can even download an app that lets you plan your meals in advance. Clearly, a yummy choice for older kids like my son's friend Indiana, who only wants sushi rolls for lunch.
rezip Stand-Up Leakproof Reusable Storage Bag , $18, Target
You can also buy a 3-piece set for $20 on Amazon right now.
These bags are food-safe, lead-free and BPA-free. The lightweight bags can be used for snacks, sandwiches, travel, home organization and more. Most importantly, they're a great solution for those of us who worry about all that plastic we're dumping out every day.
Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Wrap, $11, Uncommon Goods
We love these cute wraps for adorable, eco-friendly lunches.
Beeswax Food Wraps, $17, Amazon
These are another adorable and eco-friendly option.
Scratch-off Lunchbox Notes, $16, Etsy
Such a fun way to let little ones know you love them (or remind them to eat their veggies)! These interactive scratch off notes are perfect lunch box surprises.
PLAE Sneakers, $40, Amazon
These kids shoes are fun, functional and fashion-forward. Plus, you can customize them with easy-to-swap velcro straps!
DIY Decorative Tape Decal Dispensers, $12, Amazon
Such a fun way to personalize papers and notebooks. These mini stickers easily roll off the pen and onto paper to add a unique touch to all your school supplies!
Editor's note: speaking of personalizing, there's no need to go the generic route anymore when you're labelling your kids' stuff.
Dino-Mite Custom Name Labels, $20, Minted
Chose from a crazy variety of styles, including some that feature your kiddos' faces.
Editor's note: calling all feline fans! We're infatuated with this adorable little zippered pouch for your pens and other essentials.
CREWCUTS BY J.CREW Peekaboo Kitty Pencil Case, $20, Nordstrom
Meow! This is purr-fect for cat lovers (guilty as charged)!
Mineral Laundry Egg, $15, The Grommet
This is an all-natural, long-lasting laundry alternative ideal for kids going off to college. One egg can handle up to 720 loads of laundry, and you can choose from a variety of scents! One TODAY writer loves these laundry eggs so much she wrote an entire article about them!
Smartphone Magnifier, $20, Urban Outfitters
Magnify your phone's screen to watch movies, TV shows and more with stellar image quality. No more squinting, folks!
As for where you store your phone: instead of a basic backpack or computer case, try Oliver Thomas bags. They're water-resistant and every bag features an RFID-blocking technology pocket to prevent identity theft.
And we also this reusable bag featuring an iconic Piet Mondrian design, $11, Amazon
Editor's note: Remember those combination locks of yesteryear? Not sure about you, but we always forgot the codes. Those days are gone, thanks to the ingenious gizmo that lets your create a password made up of actual words!
Wordlock Padlock, $9, Amazon
Use your dog's name, your street, your favorite band!