Move over soccer moms, it’s not just soccer that travels anymore—from football, basketball and volleyball to hockey, softball and dance troupes—youth sports can come with day (or two) trips for events.
It might seem like it’s too much effort to eat while you’re on the road, but not only is it possible, it can help your child perform better. Whether you’re in a hotel room with only a bathroom sink, or assembling meals out of the trunk, there are fresh and healthy options for their snacks and meals.
Here are some tips, tricks and tools that will help you fuel your kids with food that’s best for their athletic success now and for their good health in the long term. Plus by planning and packing food you’ll be stretching your food dollar
- Pack non-perishable items ahead of time in snack and meal size containers. Foods like healthy crackers, granola bars, nut butters, whole grain bread, and disposable utensils are key.
- Next time you’re out, grab a few travel size ketchups or mustards for your cooler.
- Plan ahead and find a grocery store near the event or your hotel for purchasing perishable items. Have a game day and travel food list stored in your car for easy shopping! Lean proteins like low-fat cheese, hard-boiled eggs (yes, they sell them already hard boiled now!), or Greek yogurt are easy and filling, be sure to add these to your list.
- Call ahead and request a mini-fridge (most hotels already have one or will accommodate).
- Have a game plan for when you run out of food and it’s time to restock.
- Set expectations and establish rules ahead of time on how to order when eating fast food!
- Prepare a simple smoothie ahead of time and freeze it in ice cube trays then pack for the road. Don’t forget to add a few baby spinach leaves or leafy kale to boost veggie intake. Once you’re ready to enjoy your smoothie, throw the smoothie cubes in a water bottle and let thaw for 30 minutes, then shake vigorously for a fresh smoothie!
- Buy easy to peel fruit like clementines and bananas.
- Prepare high-energy snacks with nut butters, ie. pre-slice apples and reassemble by holding together with nut butter. If available, squeeze a little lemon juice or OJ over them to keep them fresh. Seal tightly and pack in the cooler.
- Make a sandwich assembly line from the trunk—lay out your toppings, ie. lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese and lean meat and build away!
- Enjoy instant oats, using the hot water from the hotel coffee maker, and your oats will be ready with ease. Add in fresh or dried fruit and nuts for long lasting energy.
- Invest in a lightweight cooler and plenty of cold packs! You’ll want to make sure your kids don’t get any food born illnesses—so keep cold foods cold.
- Purchase a silicon fruit and veggie strainer. This can fit in your purse; it’s so flexible! I’ve been packing this for years and it makes washing grapes or lettuce in a hotel bathroom sink clean and easy.
- Always pack disposable sandwich bags and containers. While washing those grapes for a bed time snack, pre-pack extra for grapes for game day—you’ll thank yourself in the busy morning!
Give A Little
Still worried about the junk food vendors that are always so persuasive at games? Make a plan going in with your kids. Whether that is sticking to just one treat, splitting that order of fries or pretzel or picking the healthiest option, staying healthy at the game doesn’t mean being 100% restrictive.
Once you master packing your bag create a list of essentials and what your kids liked best. The upfront planning may seem tedious, but after you do it once or twice, it will be an easy win.