Back to School Hacks, Essentials, Recipes and Packed Lunch Ideas You'll Love!

So here we are with only a couple of weeks left of the school holidays (less for some of you) – how did that happen so fast?!
So we thought we would treat you to a special Potters Back To School Blog, packed with some great practical tips for a stress free academic year where organisation is concerned; a great ‘prepare the night before’ breakfast recipe that the kids will love (and so easy to make!); some fab packed lunch ideas; and some great products that will help with all of the above that the whole family will love.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

Let's kick off with some tips and tricks you'll love

  Alex Clark Stationary Zeal Cookie Cutter SetPotters Cookshop Back to School Blog Zeal Cookie Cutter SetAddis Cutlery Drainer

  1. Keep a keepsake notebook to record the first day of each school year. Get nostalgic and note down the school’s name, year, age, teacher's name and what your little student wants to be when they grow up, plus anything else you’d like to add. You could also add notes during the year, to remember special moments (and the odd photograph!). This will make a nostalgic (and no doubt funny in parts!) keepsake to look back on when your little cherub finally finishes their school years – I’m blubbing just writing this! We have some gorgeous Alex Clark notebooks in store – kids will love Alex’s quirky and unique depiction of dogs, cats, birds and farm animals – we love them too!
  2. A good old kitchen timer can put the fun into getting ready for school on time! Make getting out of that door on time into a game for your slow-coaches! The fun and funky Colour Works by KitchenCraft timers are just the job – they come in a variety of bright colours that children will love, and you can choose from three types: traditional sand-timer, digital, or mechanical… ranging from £3.99-£5.99 in store – WELL worth it, trust me!
  3. Keep an organised stash of schooly supplies to save any last minute ‘night-before stress-outs’ for the less organised young folk… food storage boxes are ideal to organise into stash categories. For example, glue sticks, glue, sellotape, stickers, double-sided tape (and so on) could go together in a ‘sticky’ themed box. Colouring pencils and pens in another. Post it notes, Blu Tack, paper clips, etc could go in another. And so on – you catch my drift! The fabulous Lock & Lock range would be perfect with their four locking hinges, as well as for general lunch boxes, available in store or online here.
  4. Alternatively to the last tip, use a sink tidy, cleaning caddy or cutlery tray/drawer organiser to store supplies. It can then be easily transported to where homework is being carried out, and stored away easily afterwards. You could even create a homework station from a dish rack/drainer… organise folders, papers, notebooks, pencils and more in one place. The Casa Small Cutlery Tray and Addis Cutlery Drainer (click here to view), Drawer Organiser and Draining Rack are just the job, ranging from £1.99-£8.49 in store. 
  5. Make packed lunches easily by storing packed lunch foods together, in sections in both the fridge and cupboard. That way, you’re not whizzing from one place to another trying to whip up lunches! We love the OXO Good Grips POP range of storage that we stock in store and online (click here to view)... the lids have push-button mechanisms that create airtight seals (they come apart for cleaning) and they are stackable so you can organise in any number of height combinations to fit your worktop and cupboards. Fun and funky storage! You could even get super organised and pre-portion lunchbox contents to easily grab and pop in their box – even better, let the kids choose to help motivate them for school the next day! Dare I suggest that you could also pack their lunches the night before?! More on lunch boxes later…

    Addis Lock&Lock KitchenCraft OXO
  6. Lost your freezer packs for the packed lunches? If your kiddiewinks are old enough to be trusted with a sealable food bag, and you have time, simply freeze a wet sponge and seal inside a food bag. Hey presto!
  7. Prepare breakfast the night before. Overnight oats are a winner in our house... prepare the night before; your kids will delight in tasting the magic that’s happened in that jar overnight and it might even encourage them to get up on time! Kilner make a multitude of jars that are just perfect for overnight oats – they even make a ‘Breakfast Jar’ (£6.99 in store) specifically for the job! Browse the range in store or online here. It’s also always a good idea to have some ‘on-the-go’ breakfasts readily available for the mornings that just don’t go to plan in any way, shape or form!
  8. Have a five drawer/compartment storage area; each compartment labelled Monday to Friday. Make sure that each compartment is set for the week by filling with uniform, P.E kits and anything specific that needs to be remembered for the school bag on a particular day (a form or homework that’s due in on Tuesday for example).
  9. Have a calendar and/or diary for keeping a log of homework, deadlines, things to remember, clubs, play dates/out of school activities, holidays, etc.
  10. If you haven’t time (let’s face it, who does?!) to make all singing, all dancing packed lunches but you have a little fussy eater, make a normal sandwich fun with KitchenCraft ‘Lets Make’ sandwich cutters in a variety of shapes – our fave is the dolphin shaped cutter… we also sell the dinosaur and train cutters too – so cute and only £2.49! Or you could opt for a Zeal set of shape cutters available in heart, square, circle, star and flower shapes. Available in store at £3.99, each shape comes in a set of 5/6 differently sized rainbow coloured cutters. Check them out online here

Now let's talk food...

Banana, Honey and Chocolate Overnight Oats Recipe Potters Cookshop Back to School Blog Banana, Honey and Chocolate Overnight Oats Recipe

Talking of food, we mentioned a great overnight oats recipe that you can prepare the night before so that it’s all ready to go first thing in the morning – no flapping about in a hurry, making a mess in the kitchen! The children will also love to help make these, and will anticipate the end result that they’ll wake up to in the morning… they’ll probably even get up on time! Here’s the magic…

Chocolate, Banana & Honey Overnight Oats

Ingredients – Serves 2
65g rolled oats
160ml milk
120g vanilla yoghurt, preferably Greek
1 teaspoon of honey
1.5 teaspoons cocoa powder
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
0.25 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 chopped banana
Optional: you could add a teaspoon or two of Nutella for a treat!
Milk chocolate chips, sliced banana and honey to serve

Most methods instruct mixing in the jar that you’ll serve in, but I find that it’s easier to mix in a bowl, then scoop into serving jars afterwards. As this recipe serves two, mixing in a bowl first then sharing out into two jars is a good idea.
Stir all of the ingredients together, except the ingredients for serving.
Share into two jars, seal and leave in the fridge overnight.
To serve, add some sliced banana, chocolate chips and honey if desired.

Kids Packed Lunch Ideas

Potters Cookshop Pinterest

If you’re at a loss as to how to make packed lunches more interesting, head over to our Pinterest board here for some inspiration! I’d planned a section on this but there are soooo many ways (easy ones too!) to spruce up lunchtimes, and lots of ‘make-ahead’ ideas too, so I’ve created a Pinterest board devoted to this (click here). I’ve had to drag myself away – pop over to see, you’ll love it! While you’re there, check out our other fab boards – you never know what you’ll find! 

Packed Lunch Essentials

Into The Wild Little Explorers Children's Cutlery Set Potters Cookshop Back to School Blog Zeal Cookie Cutter Set

Ok, so I was also going to provide you with a general ‘Back to School Essentials’ list BUT, thinking about it long and hard, the list would vary too much for differing ages of children. So I’ve stuck with, in true Cookshop style, lunchtime basics. Add some tissues and hand wipes with these – plus a yummy packed lunch inspired by our Pinterest board, and you’ll be packing your cherubs off to school with a grin. Here are some of our favourite products to start the school year off with a smile…

Roald Dahl Water Bottles and Lunch Bags

Roald Dahl Lunch Bag and Hydration Water Bottle

The absolutely wonderful Roald Dahl range features storybook illustrations and quotes from James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Colourful and fun, the Hydration Water Bottle with Snack Pot, and the Lunch Bag are perfect for any Roald Dahl fan heading back to school this September.
The 500ml Hydration Water Bottles have handy and quirky screw off bases that can be used as a cup or snack pot. Their screw lids have fold-away mouth pieces, and handy handles for either carrying or attaching onto a bag or stroller. £6.99 in store.
The Lunch Bags are made of water-resistant polyester with easy wipe-clean PEVA linings inside. They have a soft handle with buckle to clip onto bags or strollers, and a space for children to write their name so that there’s no mistaking who owns this adorable piece of lunch kit! £11.99 in store.

Into The Wild Little Explorers

Into The Wild Little Explorers Children's Cutlery Set, Snack Pots and Hydration Water Bottle

The Into The Wild Little Explorers Cutlery Set is simply adorable. With simple black and white sketches on a blue fork, yellow knife and orange spoon, the illustrated animals include a fawn, bunny, bear and fox. The set comes packaged beautifully; perfect for a starting school gift. Although this set is relatively ‘blunt’ for use by children, please do check with the school before sending children in with cutlery in their lunch bags for safety reasons. £6.99 in store.

We also stock an Into The Wild Little Explorers Set of 4 Snack Tub Set… the tubs come in various sizes and are suitable for small sandwiches, fruits, vegetable sticks and biscuits to keep kids topped up with energy on their adventures. The tubs also nest together when not in use to save space in backpacks and cupboards. £10.99 in store.

The Into The Wild Hydration Water Bottle with Snack Pot has a cool screw off base that can be used as a cup or snack pot. Their screw lids have fold-away mouthpieces, and handy handles for either carrying or attaching onto a bag or stroller. We love the text on these… ‘Little Adventures Big Dreams’; very apt for school. £5.49 in store.

Jolly Awesome Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles

Jolly Awesome Lunch Box and Hydration Water Bottle

We stock the fun Jolly Awesome Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles in store, designed by London-based artist and illustrator Matt Nguyen. Adorned with animals illustrated in pop-culture style, they are perfect for back to school lunches.

We particularly love the Unicorn water bottle, available in store at £8.99, and the ‘Eat Eat Eat Repeat’ lunch box with snap closure and a super cute bear eating a biscuit on the front; £9.99.

We also love the 'Treat Yo'self' lunch box, featuring a cute squirrel loving life with all sorts of treats. With a bright purple background, the lunch box also features a white and pink striped elasticated band, perfect for keeping your food safe while you're on the go. £6.99 in store.


Joe Wicks Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles

Joe Wicks Food Prep and Hydration

For the older kids who are, quite literally, ‘down with the kids’, how about a Joe Wicks lunch/food/salad box and water bottle? The boxes come in funky colours and are made from safe BPA free material, whilst being airtight. They can also be used in the microwave, freezer and dishwasher. Coming soon online, we have added this fabulous new range in store: Salad Box £4.99; 2 Piece Rectangular Container Set £6.99; 3 Piece Rectangular Container Set £10.99.
The 700ml Hydration Bottles have a great capacity, and a practical loop and hand grip. The lid clicks shut for no spills and it is made from safe BPA free material. A fabulous lightweight and shatterproof alternative to glass that is dishwasher safe. Again, coming soon online but available in store at £5.99.


Harry Potter Water Bottles

These Harry Potter 700ml Water Bottles are perfect for any Harry Potter fan. Made from plastic, the fronts feature the crest of your chosen house: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. The reverse shows the Harry Potter logo. The screw top lid, carry handle and flip straw make it an ideal water bottle to hold or hang whilst on the go.

Harry Potter Hydration Water Bottle

So there you have it… some great tips, ideas and products to get the new school year started with success!
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