In an ideal world, every young athlete would have a parent waiting at home after a morning practice or before a late practice, prepping and serving a nutrient-dense lunch that will help them perform their best. The reality is that, in the summer, many athletes are on their own when it comes to finding a lunch - either because parents work or are driving around other siblings. The good news is that great lunch options can be created in a short time with little cooking expertise. As long as the ingredients are there, the feat is easy.
Sit down with your young athlete and review the list below. Pick at least 3 options each week that your athlete is willing and able to make on their own. Use this to create your shopping list. Doing this assures you can be away from home with less stress, knowing your athlete is fueling well in your absence.
1. Homemade quesadilla: canned beans (rinse) + 2% fat cheese + veggies cooked inside 2 whole wheat tortillas. Add fruit and milk or a container of yogurt. If there is leftover chicken or other lean meat, add that to the quesadilla as well.
2. Homemade bagel pizzas: whole wheat bagel split open topped with lowfat cheese + pizza sauce + turkey pepperoni + veggies. Cook for 5-10 minutes in a toaster oven or 5 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven). Add 1 piece fruit and water.
3. Whole grain cereal w/ low-fat milk topped with dried fruit + nuts. Add raw veggies dipped in hummus or guacamole.
4. Box mac n cheese with frozen (warmed) veggies mixed into the pasta or on the side. Add 1 piece of fruit and either milk or Greek yogurt.
5. PBJ (whole wheat bread + 2 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 Tbsp jam/jelly) + 1 cheese stick + 1 piece fruit + raw veggies dipped in hummus or guacamole
6. Deli meat sandwich on whole wheat bread w/ cheese + 1 piece fruit + ½ cup veggies + ½ cup pretzels
7. Rice and beans: mix of half white/half brown rice topped with black beans and drizzled with olive oil and small amount shredded cheese (optional). Mix in frozen (heated) veggies or eat on the side. Add milk or Greek yogurt for extra protein. Finish with a piece of fruit or 1/2 cup fruit juice.
8. Loaded baked potato: 1 whole baked potato topped with low fat cheese, beans, cooked broccoli and salsa and plain Greek yogurt (optional). Pair with a piece of fruit and added protein from either lean meat, milk or additional Greek yogurt.
9. Eating out: 6 inch sub with lean deli meat (ham, turkey, chicken), condiment of choice and extra veggies + 1 bottle of 100% apple/orange juice + 1 bag baked potato chips/pretzels
Armed with the right ingredients and knowledge, a balanced plate can be achieved by all athletes at meals - regardless of their age.
Your Nutrition Coach,