Meal Prep for an Athletes Lunch on the Go
Athletes’ schedules can be quite hectic; classes, meetings, practices, games. It can be tough to find time to squeeze in a balanced meal. A midday meal is important for recovery from morning workouts, fueling the rest of the day, and maintaining focus to get through classes. Getting proper nutrition while constantly on the go can be difficult, so we’ve put together some helpful tips to make sure you’re getting the fuel you need no matter how busy life gets.
#1 Planning is Key
You won’t just drift toward balanced meals on accident. Carving out time each week to plan out meals is essential. It may be difficult at first, but changing a behavior takes time. Try planning 3 main options and 3 sides for the week to help break up any monotony. This will allow for meal flexibility by rotating different sides with other main options. Then, compile an official list and don’t forget to plan for snacks! Some great options are individually packaged nuts or pretzels with hummus. Be mindful of when you feel hungry to help you plan accordingly. If you need help coming up with recipes or just need a break from eating the same foods, check out our ebook Lunch Made Simple!
#2 Cook in Batches
Once you’ve planned out meals for the week and have gone to the store to pick up your groceries, next comes preparing the planned meals. Therefore, you will need to find some time once or twice a week to meal prep. Cooking batch meals requires planned time for food preparation and packing, but will save you time and energy in the long run. Especially on your busiest days it will allow you to just grab and go! Some great options include: roasting a full pan of vegetables, cooking an entire bag of brown rice, or a full pack of chicken breasts. Keep recipes simple initially and expand when you have more time. For example don’t try aiming for 5-star cuisine during finals week, as you want to devote your time and energy to the most appropriate cause
#3 Always keep a well stocked Pantry
Here are a few suggestions of what to always have on hand: whole grain bread,nut butter, olive oil, brown rice, whole grain pasta, canned foods (beans, vegetables), salsa, favorite condiments/spices, etc. This list may vary slightly from athlete to athlete. However, having a well stocked pantry is essential for quick and easy meal prep.
#4 Plan for Leftovers
If you’re cooking in batches the goal is leftovers for pre-prepped meals at reach for the rest of the week. Creativity is key! Leftover chicken or turkey? Shred it and try enchiladas, quesadillas or a deli wrap. Leftover mashed potatoes? Add egg and parmesan to make potato pancakes. Turn meats and vegetables into hearty soups. Leftover vegetables are great as they have multiple uses such as salad toppers, omelet fillings, and additions to homemade pizza.
#5 Plan and stick to your Budget
Create a budget and stick with it. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive, as there are plenty of healthy options to explore when shopping on a budget. For example, all of the items listed below are less than $2 and stretch for multiple meals:
- 1 lb Brown Rice
- 1 lb Whole Wheat Pasta
- 1 loaf Whole Wheat Bread
- 8 oz Nonfat Greek Yogurt
- Bag of Russet Potatoes
- Canned Beans
- Canned Tuna
- Dried Lentils
Be sure to check out Optimal Performance Starts at the Grocery Store for more help with navigating through grocery shopping.
Athletic success depends on proper fueling. Skipping meals does not allow athletes to recover from a morning practice or top off their energy stores before practice. Therefore, planning for the midday meal is key for athletic success. Make a nutrition game plan and stick with it for optimal daily performance!
Resources and Links
- Lunch Made Simple
- Breakfast Made Simple
- Dinner Made Simple
- Grocery Shopping List For Athletes
- I Just Don’t Have Enough Time to Plan, What to Do?
- What’s Your Plan for Nutrition?
- Grocery Shopping List for Athletes
- What’s Cooking in Sports Nutrition: Recipes for Athletes