As the kids get ready to go back to school and after school sports practices kick back in, take time to fuel your athlete with healthy mini meals. We have found that four small meals a day is the best balance for my daughters – they eat breakfast before school, have a packed lunch at school, then they eat a mini-dinner between school and gymnastics (or swimming depending on the day), and then they have another mini-meal after practice.
A few years ago a friend of mine, who is a registered nutritionist, gave us a great list of healthy lunch box and snack ideas. I keep this list posted on the inside of the cabinet in the kitchen for quick reference.
- Tuna sandwich on whole grain bread
- Egg salad sandwich on whole grain bread
- Smoked or roast turkey breast on whole grain bread
- Lean roast beef on whole grain bread
- Natural peanut butter and all fruit spread on whole grain bread
- Whole wheat pita topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese (not the Lunchables)
- Starkist Tuna Kits
- Roll-ups – fill whole wheat flour tortillas with refried beans and shredded cheese; tuna fish; smoked turkey breast with shredded lettuce and cheese; or make your own combinations
- Hot soup in a thermos
- Fresh fruit – apple slices (drizzle with orange juice to keep from turning brown), small bunch of grapes, banana, orange slices, strawberries, blueberries
- Container of unsweetened applesauce
- Container of reduced fat yogurt – stay away from the ones with sprinkles or added toppings
- Fruit roll-ups or fruit leather made with real fruit puree
- Raw carrots, broccoli or cauliflower with ranch dressing
- Mini salads – place cut up romaine or other dark, leafy greens in plastic container with lid. Place croutons in aluminum foil to be added and put salad dressing in small container with lid .
- Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Mozzarella cheese sticks
- Raw almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews and peanuts (if there are no peanut allergies in the class)
- Trail mix made of dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries), raw almonds or other nuts, sunflower seeds, mini pretzel rings or sticks, goldfish pretzels, popcorn, etc
- Baked tortilla chips and salsa
- Natural peanut butter on whole grain crackers
- For more ideas, check out Lunch Boxes and Snacks: Over 120 healthy recipes from delicious sandwiches and salads to hot soups and sweet treats
With a little planning and some creativity, you can give your athlete the fuel her body needs and avoid unhealthy stops at fast food restaurants, too.