Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gearing Up For Grad School With PB Teen {What's In My Backpack + Lunchbox}

In all honesty, after graduating college I didn't know when would be the next time that I would actually use a backpack to carry my school supplies. This past semester when I only had class in January and all of my friends started carrying their tote bags to class I stayed true to my backpack since it is so much more comfortable to carry. Hands free means you can carry two coffees, right? Then when our student teaching schools were on spring break and we were back on campus for class of our own I was excited to finally carry my backpack again and socialize in the library (I'm a closeted nerd...). 

Now, fast forward to grad school again. While opting to take a tote bag to class may make it so that someone doesn't ask me if I'm a freshman looking for orientation, I am glad to still have a chance to wear my backpack. I know every school is different when it comes to what most students carry and I would definitely claim Furman as a backpack school. While tote bags for all your stuff aren't extinct I'd like to think we are all looking out for our backs and are also not masters when it comes to figuring out how to fit all of the stuff we need in one single tote. 

North face seemed to be everyone's go to in college but when given the opportunity to pick out a new backpack from PB Teen I knew I wanted something that was slightly less sporty and was versatile enough to use as an outfit accessory especially when traveling. I opted for the Northfield Mint Stripe Backpack as I was immediately drawn to the color and relaxed style. The light brown trim almost adds a beach vibe and the number of pockets both on the inside and the outside are practical and not overwhelming like some brands. When I got it in the mail I knew I hit the grad school backpack jackpot. 

One feature that I didn't even realize it had when I initially picked it out was the laptop sleeve. I've had the same laptop for about five years and with one new hard drive later I'd like it to last as long as possible. Having a cushioned place to put it when I'm packing up is reassuring. In front of that sleeve is another pocket that I've been utilizing for my charger. With class from 9:00-4:00 it's unlikely that my computer would make it through on one try and I'm not willing to test that so every morning I loosely wrap my charger up (don't wrap it too tight since that's how my last 2 have broken) and place it in that pocket for later use. As for the front pocket, I tend to keep that empty unless I decide to bring a water bottle and a coffee cup and then that's where a snack goes. The interior front pockets are perfect for my keys, chapstick, pens and pencils, and sticky notes. Often those kinds of things can end up at the bottom of your backpack only to resurface on the occasional clean out you may do so having specific pockets for them helps me to make sure that I'm keeping the bottom clean. 

The two large cup holders on the side of the backpack make it easy for me to be hands free when walking to class given that I have a place for my coffee cup and water bottle. Since I do sit in class for so long it would be a real bummer to forget those things and placing them in the pockets helps me to not forget them in the car in the morning. These cup holders are also taller than some other ones which keeps your drink cup secure and in place! 

As for the rest of the contents of my bag I pack the essentials. My Day Designer is a no brainer since that's how I organize my assignments, my notebook for my classes, and as a lover of files, a good file folder or two to hold the checklist I've made of all of my assignments. Depending on the class, I'll also bring a binder and am sure to have a pencil pouch with highlighters and the like to take notes and annotate my readings. I rarely go anywhere without a snack so you can bet despite bringing a lunch box I like to keep a snack of some sort in the bag. And aside from that there's usually a children's book or two since I am an education major after all. 

Despite the eye rolls your friends may send in your direction, you are never too old for a cute lunchbox. While sometimes I'm lazy and opt for a lulu lemon tote that doesn't do the best job at keeping my food organized and cold. It is however nice to have in case I revert to my elementary school tendencies and accidentally forget to bring home my lunch box. But in reality, this Classic Lunch Bag in Pool Gingham has become my go-to. The structured style and zipper compartments leave room for me to bring silverware (if I remember) and are spacious enough to carry even the largest of my leftovers. While no two days may be identical when it comes to packing my lunch *they do say variety is the spice of life) I have become a lover of leftovers and a big fan of wraps. I'd be lying if I said that I really enjoy packing my lunch but having a place to put everything neatly and be able to quickly grab as I head out the door is handy. 

While I unfortunately don't have photos of all of these lunch box ideas in action I figured it could be helpful to share some of my favorite things to pack in case you're looking for some inspiration. 

Leftovers: Today, I am taking some chicken and sweet potatoes that I made last night as my lunch. When I am cooking I like to make sure I make enough to get at least two meals from it. I also included a small side salad (aka kale and dressing) to have as well. 

The favorites include making bowls with ground chicken/turkey, quinoa/brown rice, black beans, cheese, salsa, and avocados. This is a great leftover item to have as well since it packs a lot of flavor in a single dish.

Wraps: My go-to while student teaching was always a wrap. I start by taking a whole wheat tortilla and spreading my favorite hummus (Roots Roasted Red Pepper) on it. Then, I put down some spinach leaves and a few slices of turkey. I finish it off with a little bit of chopped avocado and am sure to pack some hummus and nut thins with me as a side. 

Salads: Salads are another easy one for those moments when I don't have a lot of time to make something and don't have leftovers on hand. My favorite lettuces are kale, spinach, or arugula so I usually have one of those with some chicken. I buy Trader Joe's fully cooked frozen chicken strips for this very purpose. I'll heat up what looks like a reasonable amount in the microwave in the morning and place it on top of the lettuce before tucking it into my lunch. I like to keep the dressing on the side until it's time to eat and usually will bring some parmesan crisps to serve as croutons.

I am always looking for good lunchbox ideas so if you have any suggestions I am all ears! As for the other items inside of my lunchbox, you can usually find some Pirate Booty, almonds, and a granola bar (and if I'm lucky the silverware I seem to always forget).

Items Shown:

backpack (c/o) // lunchbox (c/o) // shirt // shorts // watch (c/o) // bracelets ( 1 & 2 )

This post was created in partnership with PB Teen. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible.


  1. I love the backpack! I just graduated and am in the market for a cute backpack that can fit my computer when I go to visit my parents.


  2. I really like the lunch bag! If I got it, I would get it in a different print/pattern, but it's so handy!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  3. Such a cute backpack and lunch box! If as a teacher I could get away with still carrying a backpack, I would! As far as lunches go, sandwiches and leftovers are my two go-tos, but I also really like carrying soups-I know it sounds crazy but they're really easy to make a lot of (you can even freeze them!) and then warm up quickly at school and all you need is a spoon :)

    xoxo, SS


  4. I love that backpack! I used a tote bag when I was in grad school, because I didn't want a "typical" backpack.

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