Not sure what you should feed your kids before their practice or game? The answer may be simpler than you think. Kids know when they are hungry and need a boost of energy. Often that’s after school and before their activities. Does that mean a choice between hours preparing “fun” snacks, or expensive and not-so-healthy fast food options? No! Homemade kid-friendly after school snacks can be simple, cheap, fast, and nutritious. Here’s how.
Steph Tilley is a dietetic intern working with registered dietitian Kim Wagner Jones in Calgary.
Your child’s main fuel through the day and during sports is carbohydrate, so wise snack choices should contain carbohydrates. Adding a protein or healthy fat keeps kids going through intense activities longer than an hour and a half. Proteins and fats slow down the release of energy and are important for healthy growth and development.
What does that look like in terms of snack options? Pick some things from these lists to fuel your active child and save yourself hassle and money. Best of all, you always know what is in the snacks you bring from home. No hidden sugar, salt, or unhealthy fats.
The non-perishable foods are safe to leave in the car all day. They are perfect for days when a pit stop at home isn’t possible.
Carbohydrate foods (pick two)
- Fresh fruit (some fruit doesn’t keep very well if left in the car in cold weather)
- Dried fruit
- Unsweetened apple sauce
- Fruit cups
- Whole grain granola bar
- Dry whole grain cereal
- Low fat or homemade granola
- Low fat banana bread or muffin
- Whole wheat English muffin
- Carrot sticks or other veggies
- Frozen fruit
- Whole grain pita or wrap
- Left over whole wheat pancakes or waffles
Proteins and healthy fats (add one of these for a longer session)
- Snack pack tuna
- Mixed unsalted nuts
- Peanut or other nut butter
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Hard boiled egg
When you can prepare something ahead of time, here are a few easy ideas.
Ants on a log
Celery sticks filled with peanut or other nut butter and topped with raisins
Frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, small amount of 100% fruit juice. You can even add spinach or kale to get some extra veggies in.
Banana roll up
Spread peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla and wrap around a banana.
Scrambled egg inside a whole wheat English muffin or mini bagel makes a quick and easy sandwich to go. Add chopped peppers or salsa.
A Note on Hydration
Does your child need a sport drink during their activity? Most of the time the answer is no. Unless your child is running around or skating constantly for 90 minutes or more, water is the best choice.
Although your child might seem tired after school, energy drinks are not a healthy choice. The ingredients could be harmful to children under 18-years-old. Boost your young athlete’s energy with a healthy snack and water instead.
For more information about fuelling your young athlete check out the Coaching Association of Canada’s website.