It's your turn again: you're in charge of providing a snack for your child's whole soccer team, gymnastics team, or maybe even class field trip. While you may feel confident in the kitchen when it comes to fueling your own kids, feeding a big crew can be a different story.
But there's no need to despair when it comes to volume. With the right approach and smart food choices, it's possible to provide a healthy group snack for the whole team without an entire evening of work.
The Importance of Eating after Activity
When it comes to sports, post-game snacks are particularly important. According to researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU), the food young people eat after a game--and when they eat it--can affect how they recover from the physical activity.
Post-game snacks may help replenish glycogen stores for energy and rehydrate tired muscles. NDSU recommends eating post-game fare within four hours after an athletic event for best results.
Easy Post-Game Eats
There are many tasty, low-fat treats that kids of all ages will love. Along with these post-game snacks, be sure that your young athletes drink plenty of fluids:
- Mini fruit cups: What could be easier to prepare in bulk--and healthier for kids--than freshly chopped fruit? All types of fruit make excellent choices for refueling. You can choose from a variety of easy prep options, from sliced apples and orange wedges (no cups needed--serve out of a large bowl or even plastic bags), to fruit salad (kiwi, melon, berries, and bananas make great choices), to dried fruit and fruit juice. In a pinch, you can even use individual, pre-prepared servings of canned fruit.
- Protein pick-me-ups: Foods high in protein are important for post-game recovery. Make mini PBJs by cutting whole peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into quarters. This allows kids to just grab and go. Nuts like peanuts and sunflower seeds involve no prep at all, and are a perennial favorite. Just be sure to check that there are no children on the team with nut allergies. Dairy products like yogurt (buy kid-sized cups in bulk) and low-fat string cheese are other easy options.
- Remember the carbs: Carbohydrate-rich foods are important for kids both before and after their games. If the team is coming back to your house and you have time to create something special, NDSU suggests combining carbs and proteins in a tasty, kid-friendly recipe: PBJ Waffle Sandwiches. Simply heat whole grain frozen waffles as directed on the package, spread one tablespoon of peanut butter on half of the waffles and one tablespoon of jam on the other half. Next, top each peanut butter waffle with banana slices, and place the jam-covered waffles on top to make a yummy sandwich. There are many other tasty options if you are short on time. Low-fat granola bars and homemade or prepackaged trail mix are other healthy carbohydrate choices to consider for hungry teams.
HealthAhead Hint: Set a Positive Example
Providing easy, healthy snacks for large groups of kids sets a positive example of good nutrition for children, and other parents too. You might worry that preparing group snacks will be extra effort. But if you plan ahead, and keep the snack simple, you'll find that you can craft the perfect team treat in a snap. Refueling your child's whole team after a big game will make everyone feel better and stay healthier for the next game--and it just might make you the most popular parent on the block.