Balancing intense sporting schedules with school life, homework, social commitments and everything else can be challenging for any youth athlete. Throw in eating well to fuel and refuel their bodies for the tough training sessions and doing this without breaking the bank can be even trickier. But eating healthy to maximise performance doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
We’ve come up with 5 top-tips to make sure youth athletes are ticking off all of their nutritional needs, whilst keeping the costs down.
1. Plan Ahead
Know exactly what your meals for the week will be and what shopping you need to get in for them. This way, you can shop from a list and not get caught wandering round the supermarket, aimlessly filling your basket with whatever’s on the shelf in front of you and avoiding wasting anything that you didn’t actually need. Consider the own brand ranges as well. They’re usually much cheaper and there’s often very little difference other than the packaging.
2. Cook from scratch
Once you’ve made your meal plans and got the shopping in, cook your recipes from scratch. Not only do you know exactly what’s in each meal, but buying fresh ingredients can be a cheaper (and healthier) alternative to ready meals and takeaways.
Cook larger portions than you need and put some aside in a lunch box for the next day. Take them with you to save on buying lunches out, or save them for dinner for a quick and easy meal on nights you don’t have much time. Taking your own food to school for lunches is a great idea for athletes with training straight after. Ensuring they have a nutritious meal before their session will optimise their performance in training. It’s also key to away games and tournaments, cutting out last minute service station stops or drive through take-aways on the journey home.
Think about snacks as well. If you’ve got a long day ahead come prepared. Bringing snacks with you will save on buying individual items which often cost more than multipacks
4. Go frozen
Frozen fruit and veg are a much cheaper alternative to fresh produce and are just as good for you (avoid those with added salt, sugar or fat). They even come pre-chopped, saving you precious time in the kitchen. Fill your freezer with different options and you always have veggies in to bulk out meals and fruit for throwing into smoothies and oats. They’ve also got a much longer shelf life so chances are there’ll be less waste.
5. Bulk buy
Buying certain items in bulk is often a great way of saving money. Foods with a long shelf life such as starchy staples (oats, rice, pasta etc) are often cheaper in bigger quantities and are an essential item in any athletes kitchen cupboard. Even items like meats can often be bought in bulk and if stored correctly can keep for a long time.
The key to all of these tips is preparation. Although it might be slightly more time consuming at first, these simple steps will make fuelling your young athlete much more affordable and manageable and will ensure they’re meeting the nutrition demands of their body and sport.
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Just as your youth athlete will need to fuel well to stay healthy, the same goes for parents too. Ensuring you eat a healthy and balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels high, so you’re better equipped to handle the stress and challenges that life throws at you.