The summer holidays have come to an end and the new school term’s just beginning. That means back to soggy ham sandwiches or sloppy school dinners to fill your young athlete up for the rest of the day. But fear not! We’ve come up with a few options to combat the mundane school lunch choices and make sure they’re fuelled and ready for the rest of the school day.
Switch it up
Sandwiches can be a great option- done right they’re packed full of nutrients and quick and easy to make. But no one wants to eat the same sandwich every day for 5 days straight. Try to keep things fresh by rotating the filling and the bread. Swap out the sliced white bread for whole grain alternatives, which are higher in fibre and other nutrients that will keep blood glucose levels more stable throughout the day. Anything that works as a sandwich is also going to taste great in a pitta, bagel, wrap or even a taco. When you’re deciding on a filling aim for something high in protein- think chicken, tuna or turkey and add in some extra veggies for taste and nutrients. Tip: Pack the salad separate to stop the bread from going soggy!
If you want to change it up all together, prepare a slightly larger dinner the night before. Then you can fill up your lunch box with the extra dinner you prepared, for lunch the next day. If you haven’t got access to a microwave at school then choose options that taste just as good cold; Salads, pastas and rice dishes with plenty of meat and veggies are a good option for this- they’re packed full of carbohydrates for energy, protein for growth and development and essential vitamins and minerals.
If you’re not a fan of cold food then why not invest in a thermos? Soup’s the obvious option here, but you’re not limited to just that. Fill your thermos with anything from pastas and risottos to even ramen and curry and you’ve got yourself a delicious hot meal, that’s going to fuel your body for the rest of the day.
Don’t head straight for the chocolate bars and packets of crisps. We want to fill the lunches with healthier alternatives that are going to fuel their bodies and keep up concentration levels in the class room.
Fruits are great options and you can change it up every day. Fill a small lunchbox with sliced apples, grapes, strawberries etc. Careful with the bananas though- no-one likes squashed banana all over their bag!
A handful of mixed nuts- they go great with the fruit and are packed full of protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Or try a little helping of peanut butter for dipping the fruit in.
Veggie sticks- a few slices of their favourite raw veg are an easy way of adding essential vitamins and minerals into their diet. Sliced carrot and cucumber go great with a small pot of hummus dip!
Granola bars are a convenient option for eating on the go. They can either be shop bought or homemade depending on how much time you have and your skills in the kitchen. Just watch out for the sugar content if buying them in.
Get yourself and your athlete a reusable bottle and keep it filled up with water. Dehydration is going to make them feel lethargic and lower their concentration levels so drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay switched on in class. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks as they are going to send their blood glucose and energy levels plummeting.
Tip: don’t wait until you’re thirsty before you start drinking- you’re already dehydrated then.
The key ingredient - don’t leave the lunches till ten minutes before everyone leaves for school. Make a menu plan at the beginning of the week and spend some time a few days or the night before getting everything packed up. This isn’t just down to the parents either. Get the kids involved too. If they’re choosing and making their own (healthy) lunches then they’re more likely to want to eat them. Get the kids to come up with some meal ideas and get them picking and packing their own snacks too. This way you’re making them more accountable for their own choices and you’re not doing all of the work yourself. Remember YSN Kitchen App launches on the 1st October 2018! Packed with free recipes that can be prepared in under 5 minutes for less than £5!
Cool bags and good lunch boxes are essential for this. They’ll keep the food fresher for longer and make sure it doesn’t end up rolling around at the bottom of a school bag. There’s loads of lunch box choices around nowadays with separate sections for all the different components.
So, as you can see, lunches don’t have to be boring! These top tips will help you and your young athlete make the best choices for fuelling and refuelling their bodies throughout the day, which will keep them focused in school and help their performance in training too.