Best After Game Snack Ideas for Youth Sports
It can be helpful to have healthy snack ideas to provide children and adolescent athletes after a youth sports game. Let’s take a look at key considerations when planning youth sports snacks. Then we will explore a variety of nutritious after game snack ideas for youth sports.
Planning After Game Snacks for Youth Sports
When planning snacks for athletes to enjoy after a game, aim to select healthy snacks that provide children and adolescents with key nutrients needed in their diets. Snacks containing carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals provide children and adolescents with the nutrients needed to recover from activity as well as support healthy growth and development.
Food Allergies on the Team
If you are planning snacks for the entire team, make sure to consider whether or not any athletes on the team have food allergies. If you are unsure, it is best to plan for snacks that are allergen free.
After Game Snacks for Youth Sports: Food Safety Reminder
When planning after game snacks for youth sports, it is also important to keep food safety in mind. Perishable food items need to be held cold during the game to prevent the risk of bacteria growth and foodborne illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F as the “Danger Zone” in which bacteria can rapidly grow. Perishable foods should not be left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours. This time frame decreases to 1 hour if the temperature exceeds 90 °F, which can occur during summertime games.
Consuming food that has been left in the temperature danger zone over the recommended time limits increases one’s risk of getting a foodborne illness. Perishable food items that need to be held cold (below 40°F) include:
- Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese
- Fruits and vegetables that have been cut, sliced, or peeled (i.e., sliced melon)
- Mayonnaise or products containing mayonnaise (sandwiches, tuna, chicken, or egg salad)
- Deli meat, hard-boiled eggs
If you do not have a way to store food cold at the youth sports game, it is important to plan for snacks that do not require refrigeration.
Best After Game Snack Ideas for Youth Sports
Let’s now take a look at a variety of ideas for nutritious after game snacks for athletes participating in youth sports.
Fruit: Easy After Game Snack Idea for Youth Sports
Whole, fresh fruit is a healthy option for youth athletes to enjoy after a game. Fruit contains carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals making it a nutritious choice for athletes. Consider a variety of fresh fruit options, such as:
- Apple slices
- Orange wedges, mandarin oranges
- Watermelon chunks
- Sliced cantaloupe and honey dew melon
- Diced pineapple
- Peaches, plums, pears
In addition to fresh fruit, dried fruit is a great after game snack option for youth sports. Dried fruit is a good source of carbohydrates and also provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Consider trying the following dried fruit options:
- Cherries and berries
- Apple slices
Applesauce Squeeze Pouches: Mess Free After Game Snack Idea for Youth Sports
Applesauce squeeze pouches are an easy, mess-free snack option that are perfect for after a youth sports game. In addition to apple, the squeeze pouches now come in a variety of fun flavors, such as cinnamon, strawberry, blueberry, and grape.
Pretzels, Pita Chips, and Snack Crackers
Snack items such as pretzels, pita chips, and snack crackers are great carbohydrate-based snacks for athletes to enjoy after a youth sports game. In addition to carbohydrates, the snacks contain sodium.
Consuming salty snacks can help children and adolescents with replacing sodium sweat losses. Sodium also stimulates thirst, thus encouraging athletes to drink fluid and rehydrate following the game as well (1).
In addition to pretzels and pita chips, animal crackers and graham crackers are also good carbohydrate-based snack options for kids to enjoy after a game. Consider pairing a carbohydrate-rich snack with a food containing protein (i.e., Greek yogurt, cheese stick, nut butter) for an extra nutritious post-game snack.
Granola Bars, Cereal Bars, and Fig Bars: Convenient After Game Snack Idea
Bars are a convenient snack option for youth sports teams to enjoy after a youth game. Choose carbohydrate-rich granola bars that are made with whole grains. Some of my favorite healthy bars include: Made Good® granola bars and granola minis, CLIF® Kid Zbar® and Minis, Kodiak® granola bars, and Nature’s Bakery® Fig Bars. KIND® also has a variety of whole grain bars available, including: breakfast bars, cereal bars, crunchy granola bars, and kid bars.
When choosing bars for after the game, keep in mind that bars containing chocolate may melt in the heat. Make sure to keep these in the cooler or choose a bar without chocolate to avoid a messy post-game snack.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are another great post-game snack option for youth sport athletes. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich provides carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, making it a nutritious option.
If athletes prefer other types of nut butter, such as almond butter, this is also a healthy choice for your sandwich. For individuals with nut allergies, consider trying SunButter® products. SunButter® spreads are made with sunflower seeds, thus they are nut allergen free.
Note: If you are planning snacks for a youth sport team after the game, make sure to find out if any athletes on the team have nut allergies. If unsure, avoid sending any snacks that contain nuts or nut butters.
Trail Mix: Simple Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack
Another simple, after game snack option is trail mix. You can purchase trail mix at the store or make your own by combining your child’s favorite dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pretzels, and dry breakfast cereal.
If there is a concern regarding nut allergies on the team you can make the trail mix using a variety of seeds in place of nuts. Enjoy Life® offers several trail mixes made with a variety of dried fruits and seeds, which are nut, soy, and gluten free.
Cheese Sticks: Portable After Game Snack Idea for Youth Sports
Cheese sticks or string cheese can make a great addition to an after game snack for youth sports. Typically cheese sticks provide ~6-7 grams of protein per serving (depending on brand) and also contain calcium. Consider pairing a cheese stick with a piece of fresh fruit, pretzels, or snack crackers for an after game snack that provides both carbohydrates and protein.
Greek Yogurt: Protein-Rich After Game Snack Idea for Youth Sports
Individual containers of Greek yogurt are a protein-rich snack option that children and adolescents can enjoy after a youth sports game. A 5.3-oz individual serving of Greek yogurt typically provides 12-15 grams of protein depending on the brand purchased. In addition to protein, Greek yogurt provides calcium and some varieties are also fortified with Vitamin D.
As a reminder, if you take Greek yogurt as a snack for after the game, don’t forget to pack spoons to enjoy the yogurt with as well.
Hydration for Athletes After Youth Sports Games
Hydration is important for children and adolescents participating in youth sports before, during, and after activity (2). Following a youth sports game, athletes should be encouraged to rehydrate to replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.
Ideas for drinks to provide after a youth sports game include:
- Sports Drink – Sports drinks are formulated to contain fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. When youth athletes will be exercising over 1 hour, have multiple games in the same day, or if it is hot and humid outside, sports drinks can be helpful in replacing fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat (1, 2).
- Low-Fat Chocolate Milk: Provides carbohydrates, protein, fluid, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, making it a nutritious drink option following a youth sports game.
After Game Snack Ideas for Youth Sports
You are now set with a variety of after game snack ideas for youth sports. For additional sports nutrition tips for child and adolescent athletes, check out my blog: Nutrition Tips for Afterschool Sports.
Join the Nutrition By Mandy Email List & Get a Free Athlete’s Grocery List
Click HERE to join the Nutrition By Mandy e-mail list. When you join you will receive a free athlete’s grocery list to print and take with you to the store.
About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.