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2018-19 Eat Smart. Play Hard Magazine

2018-19 Magazine

2018-19 Eat Smart. Play Hard. Magazine

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My son and daughter are in sports every season, and they always are looking for snacks. What would be some good snack ideas for growing kids who are in sports?

Growing children need adequate fuel to power through important afterschool and weekend practices.

Growing children need adequate fuel to power through important afterschool and weekend practices.

Children also may need food sources during multiple activities, such as long tournament days and entire weekends.

Concession stands offer some snacks and meals and even may play the role of partial sponsorship of your child’s team. Snack stands and vending machines often have limited nutritionally dense foods, and sometimes are just not open during the hours they’re needed. Your best option is to get organized and plan nutrient-dense snacks to pack for competitions, especially for those long weekends.

Convenience foods offer a quick option to fill in for days you don’t have time to throw together a protein/whole grain sandwich or other nutritious snack. However, with some planning, you can make sure the optimal choices are part or your child’s balanced diet with a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator, and teaming up with a support system.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t wait until they ask; just offer and make sure a snack is available.
  • Team up with other parents and each take a turn offering snacks for the entire team.
  • Make sure kids eat during meal times; five to six feedings a day are optimal for growing, busy kids.
  • For off-days (days with no practice) make your home an ideal snacking environment, such as making sure  fruit is sitting out in the kitchen and kids can reach it easily.
  • Always keep food safety in mind. When sharing snacks, have a spoon handy for portioning or individually package snacks in mini zip-top bags.
  • Try to make each pre-practice snack contain at least two food groups, such as fruit and protein (for example, peanut butter and apples).
  • Don’t forget water before and after practice to ensure hydration.

Here are some family favorites:

  • Peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread (kids like the soft kind)
  • Carrot sticks, celery sticks, stick pretzels and something to dip them in, such as peanut butter, hummus or bean dip; mix it up and try jicama sticks
  • Bananas, apples, grapes, oranges (think Cuties); be sure fresh fruit is washed
  • Your own trail mix of peanuts, tree-produced nuts, soy nuts, dried chickpeas, dried fruits and oat square cereal (Making your own really adds nutrition, such as improved protein with nuts, improved fiber with more dried fruit and less processed grains, especially when compared with “store bought” trail/cereal blend mixes.)
  • Tortilla chips and salsa
  • Convenience foods: granola bars, squeezable apple sauce, peanut butter cracker packets
  • Greek yogurt, string cheese and mini cheeses if you have a little cooler for storing them


Sherri Stastny, Ph.D., R.D., CSSD, L.R.D., Professor, Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

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