Food Shopping for Sports Parents

Stock your fridge and pantry with these essentials for busy sports families.

Grocery basket with fruits and vegetables
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Whether you have an 80-pound gymnast or a 250-pound linebacker, smart food shopping is a must for sports parents. You need foods that fuel your kid's body and brain, help muscles recover, and suit your busy schedule. Add these items to your shopping list to feed your busy athlete—and your whole family.

Foods for Energy

First thing in the morning, your family needs a healthy breakfast that will help each of them thrive during a long day of school, work, and sports practice.

Whole-grain carbohydrates, protein, and fiber are all important. Prior to a tough workout, your athlete may needs an energy boost in the form of some fast-acting carbohydrates and a little bit of protein and fiber. Your food shopping list for these items might include:

  • Cereal: look for low sugar content and at least a little fiber
  • Energy bars
  • Bananas: their potassium helps keeps electrolytes in balance
  • Oatmeal: for breakfast or pre-practice snack
  • Nut butters
  • Fruit: ideal for half-time snacking
  • String cheese: good grab-and-go protein
  • Yogurt: a healthy dose of protein and calcium, but watch the sugar content

Foods for Recovery

If your sports kid works out hard and needs to help her muscles recover, nutritionists recommend foods like these:

  • Beef jerky: contains salt, to replace what's lost to perspiration, and protein for muscle-building and recovery
  • Sports drinks: contain salts and electrolytes; but don't confuse them with energy drinks!
  • Eggs: good source of protein
  • Whole-grain carbs: bread, crackers, cookies, waffles, pasta, brown rice
  • Chocolate milk: a good mix of carbs, fat, and protein, plus calcium

Foods for Convenience

Sports families are busy! You'll need to shop with convenience in mind, for items like snacks, breakfast and lunch to go, as well as quick dinner prep ingredients.

The following usually come in handy:

  • Almonds and other nuts, for their healthy fat, antioxidants, and protein
  • Dried fruits, for carbs, fiber, and antioxidants
  • Frozen fruits, for smoothies and other breakfast recipes
  • Packable whole fruits, like apples, clementines, grapes, berries, and bananas
  • Popcorn: Pop it yourself for a healthy snack with fiber
  • Ingredients for your favorite slow-cooker dinner meals
  • Frozen vegetables, so you'll always have some veggies on hand to serve with meals
  • Cut/ready-to-eat vegetables, such as baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas