Kid athletes need good fuel between meals! Here are 21 ideas for easy sports snacks they’ll love.
Thank you to CLIF Kid for sponsoring this post!
Sports snacks can be maddening for parents–when it’s donuts, cookies, chips, and punch that often crop up on the sidelines of pee-wee sports. Those snacks feel more like a dinner-spoiling reward than actual post-game fuel.
But plenty of kids are in it for more than a cupcake, especially as sports get more competitive (and strenuous). For those kids, snacks really matter. Sure, there’s room for treats, but youth athletes feel better and do better when they’re getting the nutrients they need, and not just at meals.
Keep in mind that kids don’t automatically need a snack after sports. For some, hydrating with water and then eating the next meal is fine. But if dinner is hours away and they’re needing some fuel–especially teen athletes who need more calories–here’s a good formula for post-sports snacks:
- Carbohydrates to replenish what’s been used during the game.
- Protein to repair and rebuild muscles that have been exerted and torn.
Ideally, the post-game snack has both of those elements plus nutrients like calcium, iron, and other critical vitamins and minerals kids need as they’re growing. Here are some snack ideas for kids to get you started:
21 Nutritious Sports Snacks for Kids
Keep in mind that portion sizes will vary depending on the age, size, and appetite of your child. You know your kid best!
- Yogurt + fresh or frozen berries
- Half of a deli meat sandwich
- CLIF Kid Zbar® + glass of milk (dairy or fortified non-dairy)
- Dried fruit and nuts, like raisins and peanuts or dried apricots and almonds
- Cup of cottage cheese with sliced fruit
- Apple slices + piece of deli turkey
- Hard-boiled egg and a few whole grain crackers
- Smoothie made with milk, frozen banana, and a couple drops of vanilla extract
- Small bowl of whole grain cereal with milk
- Slice of whole grain toast with mashed avocado
- Small plate of dinner leftovers, such as pasta with meat sauce
- Bowl of stove-popped popcorn + a glass of chocolate milk
- Tuna (from a pouch or can) with whole grain crackers
- Apple slices spread with nut or seed butter
- Baby carrots and cucumbers dipped into hummus
- String cheese + pretzels
- Half of a quesadilla with refried beans and cheese
- Half of a veggie burger on a bun
- Yogurt tube + banana
- Whole grain waffle spread with nut or seed butter
- Beef or turkey jerky + cup of unsweetened applesauce
If you need to give snacks or mini-meals off the field, but on the go, here are some items to stock in your car:
- CLIF Kid Zbar® Filled or Zbar Protein
- Shelf-stable milk boxes (plain or flavored)
- Small boxes of raisins or dried cranberries
- Single-serve bags of nuts
- Squeeze pouches of nut butter
- Pouches of tuna
- Bananas, apples, and other pieces of fruit
- Applesauce and fruit cups
- Bags of dried fruit
- Nut or seed butter sandwiches
- Whole grain cereal
- Whole grain crackers
Pack in a Cooler…
- Yogurt tubes and cups
- Cups of cottage cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cups of hummus or guacamole
- Bags of baby carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies
- Single-serve bottles of kefir or yogurt drinks
- String cheese
What About Bars?
There are a lot of bars on the market, and they’re an easy, portable option when you’re refueling on the go. When choosing one for kids, here are a few things to look at:
Calories. Some bars have a meal-sized calorie load–that’s okay if you need to replace lunch in a pinch, but not so great if you’re serving dinner in an hour.
Ingredients. Are they made with mainly ingredients you’d keep in your own kitchen? Do they contain artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners?
Added Sugar. Some varieties are more like candy bars. But keep in mind that active kids need carbohydrates for fuel. I like to stick with bars that have <10 grams per serving of added sugar.
Fiber. It’s something most kids don’t get enough of. It’s definitely a bonus if a bar contains a couple grams or more of fiber.
CLIF Kid Zbar is designed with active kids in mind, with about 150 calories each, 10-12 grams of whole grains for energy, plus two to three grams of fiber. And CLIF Kid Zbar Protein packs extra protein (from dairy and pea protein) to bust hunger and satisfy kids’ when on the go.
They also have no artificial flavors and are made with ingredients like organic rolled oats. And my kids love them.
Want to get rid of junk food on the sidelines? Get my free Sports Snack Handbook For Healthier Team Snacks.