Power pack: how to fuel kids up for after-school sports

As we get into the swing of mid-winter after-school activities, we’re talking how to fuel your kid up for fun! Learn how to make after-school snack prep easy and filling—and why even pro athletes are choosing to sit down and eat together (spoiler: it's great for you!)

Does this sound familiar to you? You pick up your kid from school with an hour to go before their after-school activities. They’re quiet, and grumpy, and if they say anything, it’s likely, “did you bring a snack?” Especially for kids who get out of school at 3:30, the after-school blood sugar crash is real. So how do you help your small athlete perk up for their afternoon sports?

●    Prep fresh snacks with your kids the night before (here’s how) or on the weekend: Not only is this a great way for kids to practice their knife skills, but it’s also a chance to relax and bond with your kid. And, prepping fresh veggies and fruit is a time-saving way to keep you from having to scramble for easy options at the end of a long day. Ideally, keep a container of chopped veggies in the fridge that are ready for snacking whenever they are.
●    Put in some protein-packed treats too: Try hard-boiling a few eggs and keep them in the fridge along with grab-and-go portions of cheese and yogurt. You can also designate a pantry container with protein snacks like nuts, seeds or GORP.
●    Make your treats work hard: Got a kid who likes to mix or bake? Put ‘em to work prepping sports-friendly snacks! We’ve got tasty recipes for energy balls and protein-filled peanut butter bars in our archive; along with lots of different kinds of granola bars: try Apricot-Almond, no bake, or oatmeal bars.
●    Sit down and eat with your kid: Studies show that not only will you both enjoy an end-of-the-day energy boost, but that athletes actually perform better when they eat communal meals.
●    Pressed for time? These breakfast ideas also make great pre-sport meals—and prepping them together is a great way to score two goals at once.

Looking for more reading about cooking and sports? Check out some of our recipe recommendations for sporty families! Also, our friends at yoyomama.ca talked with registered dietitian Patricia Chuey about how precisely to time snacks (and what to eat) for serious young athletes, and it's fascinating. Finally, if your kids are just a bit young to be in sports, don’t forget there are lots of places to take them to get their jump on: playgrounds, beaches, indoor playgrounds -- and of course, don’t forget to check your local community centre for drop-in gyms aimed at kids 6 and under.

Looking for more mid-winter after-school activities for your kids? Check out our kitchen sink list ideas here, or our tutorial on how to throw a winter star-gazing picnic. And if you’re stuck indoors? We have lots of kitchen activities for you here. Don’t forget to join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram—we’re always sharing new ideas there, and we’d love to hear from you!

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