In an ideal world, every young athlete would have a parent waiting at home before or after practice, prepping and serving a nutrient-dense meal that will help them perform their best. The reality is that’s not always an option. The good news is that great meal 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. Use the recipes below 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 percent fat cheese + veggies cooked inside two 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 low-fat 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 one piece fruit and water.
3. Whole grain cereal with 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 one piece of fruit and either milk or Greek yogurt.
5. PBJ (whole wheat bread + 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 1 tablespoon jam/jelly) + one cheese stick + one piece of fruit + raw veggies dipped in hummus or guacamole.
6. Deli meat sandwich on whole wheat bread with cheese + one piece fruit + half cup of veggies + 1/2 cup of pretzels.
7. Rice and beans: mix of half white/half brown rice topped with black beans and drizzled with olive oil and small amount of 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 a half cup of fruit juice.
8. Loaded baked potato: One 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 + one bottle of 100 percent apple/orange juice + one 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.
Kate is the owner of RDKate Sports Nutrition Consulting, based out of Naperville, Illinois, where she offers expertise in sports nutrition, eating disorders/disordered eating, intuitive eating and weight management for sport. Katie holds a master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in exercise physiology. She is both a registered dietitian and one of only 550 RDs in the United States to be board-certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. As a runner, triathlete, snowboarder and rock climber, Katie understands the physical and mental challenges of being a top athlete. Katie has previously consulted with NCAA Division I and Division III, NFL and NBA athletes; she truly brings both her knowledge and experience to the table as sports dietitian. Katie is available for individual consulting, team talks and group seminars. Visit her website at RDKate.com; from there you can navigate to her weekly blog, Eat to Compete, and connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. Contact her directly at YourRDKate@gmail.com.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.