Everyone knows teenagers have a big appetite. When your teen is into sports, that appetite gets even bigger! In this article, we’re talking about how to pack a healthy meal for a young athlete. We’ll start by telling you how to incorporate healthy eating for your busy athlete, and then we’ll jump into several examples of great packed lunch ideas.
How to Pack a Lunch for An Athlete
First thing’s first, what are the special considerations you need to be making when it comes to feeding your young athlete? Simply put, sports take a lot of energy. Therefore, athletes need a special diet which fuels this energy consumption. Here are the main areas you need to focus on when it comes to choosing a healthy lunch for athletes:
The first area of consideration is nutrition. Athletes need a well-balanced diet of nutritional ingredients in order to keep their bodies in top condition. This includes a lot of protein and foods high in carbohydrate, which helps to fuel the body and stimulate muscle development. It also includes healthy foods that are high in vitamins and nutrients, and can aid the body’s recovery and activity processes. Even for the vegetarian teen or vegan athlete, there are still foods that are high in nutrition and protein that can be incorporated into their school lunch box.
Of course, sports burn a lot of energy! This means that athletes get very hungry, which means big portions! Be sure to pack enough food to fuel them throughout their day and throughout their practices and games. A big lunch with healthy ingredients is the best direction to take.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate!
Finally, don’t forget to hydrate! Make sure your teen is drinking enough water. Whether this means packing bottled water in their lunches, or simply reminding them the importance of hydration, be sure that they are eating and drinking enough to support their active lifestyle!
Now that we’ve covered the basics of constructing a diet for a teenage athlete, let’s jump right into some inspiration. Here are several healthy lunch ideas that you can pack for your teen. Not only are these meals delicious, they are nutritious and quite filling as well!
Chicken and Veggies
Let’s start with the basics. A chicken breast and veggies are a well-rounded, balanced lunch that is high in protein and nutrients. It is quite filling, and you can season the chicken and veggies to make it a delicious lunch! Leftovers often make for a solid lunch. Pack in some microwave safe containers and they can heat it up come lunch time.
Almond Butter and Apple Wraps
Here’s a healthy alternative to a classic PB & J. Try some almond butter and apple wraps for lunch. These are super easy to make, and quite delicious as well! Almond butter is full of protein and healthy fats, and is very filling and calorically dense. It is perfect fuel for your teenage athlete.
How about some leftover chili? Chili is high in protein from the beans and meat, and can be loaded with veggies as well. Chili is great because you can make a pot and have lunches for the whole week. Some will tell you chili is even better as leftovers, because it has the chance to soak up all the flavors.
Burrito bowls have all the taste and nutrition of a burrito without the wrap (although feel free to use a wrap if you want!) Making a burrito bowl is easy. Throw in your protein of choice, some rice, beans, corn, lettuce, salsa, and guacamole. Of course, you can prepare all of this yourself, but it’s just as easy to buy all the ingredients from a grocery store! Burrito bowls are super filling, and packed with all the nutrients that a student athlete needs.
Pasta with Meat Sauce
Leftover pasta makes for a great lunch! Try to make it with a meat sauce that is packed with veggies. This way, you get the carbs, protein, and vegetables that your growing teen needs. Pasta with meat sauce keeps well, and your teen can throw it in the microwave at lunch time. Just be sure to pack a hefty portion.
Turkey Sandwich, Veggies, and Granola Bar
Sometimes you can’t go wrong with the classics. A turkey sandwich is a popular lunch item for a reason. It’s full of protein, it’s filling, and tastes great. You can’t go wrong with a turkey sandwich with some cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mustard! Cut up some raw veggies for a side, and throw in a granola bar, and you’ve got a well-rounded, healthy lunch.
Stir Fry with Pork on Rice
Leftover stir fry makes an awesome lunch. Stir fry some chicken breast with all sorts of veggies, and make enough to have leftovers. Pack it in a Tupperware over rice, and all your teen has to do is throw it in the microwave. Stir fry is very healthy, containing almost no bad ingredients, and will keep your teen full all afternoon.
Hummus and Veggie Wrap
For a healthy vegetarian option, hummus is often your best friend. Hummus is high in protein, and quite filling as well. It is a delicious additive to any sandwich, whether or not you want to add meat. A hummus and veggie wrap is a delicious lunch. We recommend adding cucumber, lettuce, and tomato. Cheese also works great if it fits into your vegetarian diet!To make this a lunch fit for an athlete, trying adding a side of some almonds or other mixed nuts.
PB & J
Let’s finish with the most classic lunch staple of all. There’s nothing wrong with a classic PB & J. If you opt for the all-natural peanut butter that is 100% peanuts, then you will have a sandwich that is high in protein and healthy fats. To make it even healthier, find a jam that isn’t too full of added sugars.
Just remember when making lunch for your teen athlete, an active athlete needs a lot of fuel to feed that active lifestyle. And since teens tend to have a pretty big appetite anyway, it never hurts to pack a bit more than you might think is needed.