I’m uber excited that this Friday my family will be traveling to Dallas, Texas to watch my 11 year-old daughter compete in the Junior National Volleyball Tournament. She will be competing against the top 48 teams in the country and her team is seeded #5. To prepare and qualify for nationals, she has played in countless tournaments and before every volleyball tournament, I make a trip to Walmart to load up my grocery cart with the best fuel for her to compete at her best. As a sports nutritionist, I have worked with professional athletes for over 17 years, co-authored a book with NFL Future Hall-of Famer, Tony Gonzalez, and I’m currently the team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals. I love seeing how what you eat can help you compete at the top of your game! I want my athletes to eat foods that help to fuel their muscles, provide satisfying energy and also keep their immune system strong and healthy.
You might have kids who play recreational or club soccer, basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, softball or another sport so I thought I would share some of my favorite ways to fuel my kids when I want to optimize their energy levels. I also know youth sports can sometimes get expensive so as a parent and nutritionist, I love it when you can get nutritious and affordable food for your kids and entire family. The great news is that all of these foods are excellent options to feed your kids throughout the year.
Here is my grocery cart of top picks from my pre-volleyball trip to Walmart. I’m hoping you can use this as a grocery list for your kid’s next tournament, road trip or just healthy eating ideas for summer. The list works extremely well for kids once they go back to school, too. I have included the pricing so you can see just how affordable these choices can be if you are a smart shopper. I love working with the folks at Walmart to help show families how they can eat healthy without breaking their budget.
1. Watermelon ($3.48 for a mini): The lycopene leader among fresh fruits and vegetables. Packed with vitamins A, B6 and C. A good source of potassium that also helps an active kid stay hydrated, since one slice of watermelon provides the equivalent as one glass of water with 92% water content!
2. Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese Spread ($2.48/8 wedges): This is the perfect portion of yummy cream cheese and is super easy to pack in a small cooler to put on a 100% whole wheat bagel thin. It has 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese and is only 45 calories per wedge.
3. Bananas ($0.54/lb):A great source of carbohydrates to provide the energy for fueling muscles and always a popular choice for kids.
4. California strawberries ($2.98/2 lb container):Voted as a top favorite fruit choice by kids, strawberries not only pack delicious flavor but also a good nutritional punch providing healthy carbohydrates while being naturally low in sugar. One serving of strawberries contains approximately 8 strawberries or about 1 cup and it only has 45 calories and is an excellent source of vitamin C…more than an orange!
5. Jif Natural Peanut Butter Singles ($2.47/8): Perfect to pack for single portions of peanut butter. These handy individual portions can be eaten plain or with apples or used on whole wheat sandwich thins, bagels or bread. Great to put on a sandwich and add honey and bananas.
6. Stonyfield Blueberry Greek Yogurt: This convenient 4-pack of Greek yogurt provides 10 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates to fuel active muscles and only 90 calories. Greek yogurt is a great choice for kids with higher protein content and less sugar than regular yogurt.
7. Grimmway Farms Baby Carrots ($1.78 for 4- 3 oz packs): These individual packs of baby carrots provide a nutrient-rich choice for active kids with only 35 calories per pack. An excellent source of beta-carotene, which can help boost the immune system, baby carrots are a nutritional powerhouse as a source of over 15 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Kids enjoy the crunch, too!
8. Great Value Honey ($3.08/12 oz): A natural high energy sweetener that makes a delicious sandwich combination with whole wheat sandwich thins, bananas, and peanut butter. The Kansas City Royals love this one! Honey can also be added to water to make a homemade sports drink.
9. Clif Crunch Bars-Blueberry Crisp ($2.98/10 bars): Using real blueberries and providing 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber these granola bars are a hit with young athletes. They provide good staying power while combining a satisfying crunch with a delicious taste.
10. Oroweat Sandwich Thins ($2.78/8): One of my favorite sandwich thins that I always keep on hand at home and at tournaments. You can make a quick sandwich with either peanut butter, banana and honey or instead use Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats with a Laughing Cow Smooth Sensation Cream Cheese.
11. Pretzel Crisps ($2.48/pkg): These thin, crunchy pretzel crackers don’t last long as they taste great and make the perfect snack and contain sodium to help replace sodium lost from sweat.
12. Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats-Oven Roasted Deli Turkey ($2.98/pkg): Packing 11 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat and 60 calories for 3 slices, this natural deli meat is a great option for kids.
13. Special K Multi Grain Crackers ($2.88/box): A longtime favorite cracker of mine, these are made with whole grains and you get 24 crackers for only 120 calories. They also provide a satisfying 3 grams of fiber and protein.
14. Mini Babybel White Cheddar ($2.98/6) Known as the “cheese in the net” this 75 carlories of deliciousness contains 4 grams of protein for a quick snack your kids will love. They have a variety of other flavors, too.
15. GoGo Squeeze Apple Strawberry Applesauce On The Go ($2.48/4): A no-mess squeezable pouch made with 100% fruit which provides a natural source of carbohydrates for active muscles.
16. Thomas 100% Whole Wheat Bagel Thins ($2.88/8): Great for breakfast with the Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese or the Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter. These bagel thins pack 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and only 110 calories to provide long lasting energy.