Lunchbox Ideas for Active Kids

lunch


Even young athletes know that success on the field of play goes beyond practices to all aspects of lifestyle, including what you eat. Most kids and teenagers leave the house early for a day spent learning, socializing and practicing their sport after school. These long days require a complete lunch that provides enough nutrients to support growth and health needs, as well as the high caloric requirements of young athletes.

Children benefit from lunches that contain many separate ingredients. This allows for increased variety of nutrition and for snacking on bites throughout the day without losing interest in large meals. Each lunch should be comprised of whole, healthy foods and include carbohydrates for energy needs, protein for growth and muscle repair, and fats for satiety and mental development. Good sources of carbohydrates to pack for lunch include fruit, bread, crackers, pretzels, wraps, potatoes, cereal, oats, lentils and granola. Good sources of protein for lunch boxes include yogurt, cheese sticks, turkey slices, shredded chicken, legumes, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs and tuna. Good sources of fats for lunch boxes include hummus, nut butters, nuts, oil-based dressings, full fat dairy and avocado.

Since most kids eat lunch early in the day, packing extra food ensures there is enough for an afternoon or pre-practice snack, such as a pudding cup, oatmeal cookies, a piece of fruit, a granola bar, energy bites, chocolate milk or trail mix, to top off energy stores. 

Shredded chicken, pretzels, cut fruit, hummus, cut veggies
Brown rice bowl with chickpeas, orange slices, green beans and teriyaki sauce
Pasta and chicken salad with shredded carrots and fruit 
Turkey and cheese roll-up with celery sticks and nut butter
Tuna salad with crackers, granola bar, fruit, cheese stick 
Peanut butter and jelly with banana, yogurt and carrot sticks
Oatmeal cups with nut butter, dried fruit, and milk
Corn, black beans, salsa, and avocado with a yogurt, an orange and trail mix
Bagel, cream cheese, nut butter, apple and hard-boiled egg 
Pita, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, cottage cheese and an energy bar
Nut butter and apple sandwich with cut veggies and hummus
Chicken salad with an orange and two oatmeal cookies
Tuna salad with grapes, walnuts, broccoli and a whole grain roll
Oat muffin with an apple, cut veggies and ranch dressing
Pasta, meat balls, tomato sauce, fruit salad and chocolate milk
Falafel with cucumbers, tomatoes, yogurt and quinoa with dried fruit

Remember to check in with your child about their lunch; did they eat it, toss it, trade it with a friend? These things happen, and you'll only know if you ask! Getting your kid involved in ideas, prep and packing of their own lunch will ensure they are more likely to eat it. If your child is very hungry at dinnertime, it might be an indicator that their lunch wasn't enough to support their needs throughout the day. Have them bring a larger portion or extra snack. Whether your child is participating in sports for fun or for a serious athletic future, getting in a quality lunch is important to improving health, mental focus and preventing injury.

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About the Author

Lori Nedescu

Lori Nedescu is a self-taught personal chef and qualified board-certified sports dietitian-nutritionist. She holds a master’s degree in human nutrition and has racked up over 11 years professional experience in the dynamic field of wellness, including recipe demonstrator, corporate wellness coach, public speaker, digital media producer, personal nutrition advisor and freelance writer. As an elite road cyclist and marathon runner who was diagnosed with celiac disease, Nedescu understands first hand that eating a whole food, nutritious diet can greatly affect one’s performance, mood, health and overall increase quality of life. Through her brand ‘Hungry for Results@HungryForResults, she provides a fun and authentic approach to food, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle counseling.
Lori Nedescu is a self-taught personal chef and qualified board-certified sports dietitian-nutritionist. She holds a master’s degree in human nutrition and has racked up over 11 years professional experience in the dynamic field of wellness, including recipe demonstrator, corporate wellness coach, public speaker, digital media producer, personal nutrition advisor and freelance writer. As an elite road cyclist and marathon runner who was diagnosed with celiac disease, Nedescu understands first hand that eating a whole food, nutritious diet can greatly affect one’s performance, mood, health and overall increase quality of life. Through her brand ‘Hungry for Results@HungryForResults, she provides a fun and authentic approach to food, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle counseling.

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