Back to Cool: Online Tools for Parents This School Year

in Tips and Tricks

Back to SchoolWe’re finally nearing the end of summer, at least for those heading back to the classroom. If you have kids, they are probably either elated to jump into a fresh new year of learning, or on the opposite end: dreading the end of sun and, plus an earlier bed time. I was always of the eager variety, excited to go back and experience new challenges that go along with moving up to the next grade.

Lunch time always opened the door for meeting up with friends and making food trades. It’s kind of the kid equivalent to the office water cooler, where kids have the most time to interact and be social. For parents, the task of preparing school lunches is most likely just another item their on the to-do list. Now, we at least have some pretty cool technology that parents can use to help make the task of making daily school lunches a little more interactive, a little more frugal, and a little less stressful. I only wish we’d had these gems when I was busy at school learning my multiplication tables:


Think back to the time when you were tasked to make a ‘vision board’ in school. All you needed were things like poster board, magazines, scissors, glue and your imagination to showcase your dreams and ideas. These boards were great for class projects and a creative outlet for helping your teacher stay sane while keeping everyone busy. Nowadays, we have Pinterest to archive things and ideas we want to remember in a tidy, interactive digital format. Pinterest is unparalleled when it comes to recipe ideas, DIY, and creating projects on a dime. This also helps with searching for school lunch ideas, and a Pinterest account is something that any parent with young children probably shouldn’t be without! And when the school year ends, Pinterest is great for finding fun activities when kids are once again on school hiatus.

Monthly Subscription Services

Way better than those Jelly of the Month clubs (a la Clark W. Griswold), we now have access to highly personalized, monthly subscription services that provide anything from gourmet food to beauty products. One such service is NatureBox. With a subscription, they will send you five healthy snacks each month, according to your tastes. Personalization is a trend that consumers seem to love these days (Hello, Share a Coke campaign), and this will likely translate to a younger generation that is used to having plenty of snack choices to add to their lunch boxes.

Retail Shopping Apps

Sometimes going to the grocery store feels like yet another time suck that burdens everyone’s busy lives. I used to love going to the store with my mom when I was a kid to see what kind of treats I could throw in the cart undetected (until we got to the checkout line). Now, I understand the frustration she must have felt back then with just wanting to get in and outta there fast. Aisles are crowded, and pacing up and down each one to find what you need seems like a pain. Enter awesome grocery apps. Some of the coolest I’ve found recently are Checkout 51, where you can look for discounts in your local stores, purchase the items that have discounts, upload a photo of your receipt and receive a check for all of the savings you’ve managed to rack up by month’s end. Pretty cool, eh? Favado is another popular app that helps you compare grocery prices in different stores in your area. Better yet, if you really want to save time, you can have your groceries delivered to your home through Instacart (in most major cities), allowing you to spend more time with family: bonus!

Mom Blogs

I subscribe to a few food blogs, mainly meant for adults who cook, but there are several mom bloggers out there who write specifically for families looking for fun recipe ideas. Some of them are so creative, you may be left wondering, how did they even think of this? Mom bloggers may also offer craft ideas, tips for family budgeting, ways to save money on purchases and other life-hacks for families. Happy Being Healthy is a great example of a mom blog that explores many of these things!

Maybe by the time I have school-age children, they will just invent lunches that prepare themselves for you. Hey, I can dream! One thing’s for sure, with technology continuing to evolve, there’re plenty of ways to make life’s insurmountable daily tasks seem a little less daunting.

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