Soccer demands a lot from kids -- the best players are high enough in stamina to run up and down the field constantly for a full game. It's great for fitness but also energy-intensive. Many youth teams therefore ask parents to provide a nutritious snack for halftime or after the game. For the healthiest options, look for foods that provide both long-lasting energy and a bit of hydration, too. Don't forget to pack the water, too.
Fruit, Fresh and Dried
Fresh fruits that are high in fiber are an ideal choice for a soccer game snack. The fiber slows the digestion and absorption of the fruit's sugar content. Oranges and apples, preferably cut up for ease of eating, are two nutritious options -- in fact, orange wedges are almost the canonical after-soccer snack. Watermelon slices, bananas and grapes are all tasty, too. Dried fruit won't offer quite the juicy refreshment of fresh, but they can still restore energy. Individual boxes of raisins are portable and already portioned for you, but you can also offer dried cherries, dried cranberries or a dried fruit mix.
Cheese and Crackers
Whole grain crackers provide the carbohydrates and fiber, while cheese adds protein. Together, they're a soccer snack powerhouse. Cut pre-sliced cheese into quarters or strips for extra ease of serving, or bring individually wrapped portions of string cheese if you prefer. Go for real cheddar or a similar cheese rather than a processed cheese product.
Buy fruit-flavored yogurt in a squeezable single-serving tube, providing a powerful dose of protein for energy. These snacks can also be frozen, which is a yummy bonus treat after a hot day on the soccer field. A little sweetener is acceptable but avoid brands with high-fructose corn syrup or artificial coloring in the ingredients list.
A soccer match is no place to start instituting a low-carb snack policy. Those complex carbohydrates are essential for fueling long bouts of running around on the field. As long as you opt for whole grains, you're in the clear. Some ideas include whole wheat mini-bagels spread with almond or sunflower seed butter -- avoid peanut butter unless you're sure there are no allergies on the team. Or offer graham crackers along with some fresh or dried fruit.
You can purchase commercial trail mix if you like, but it's cheaper and almost as easy to assemble your own. Just mix dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or cherries with some nuts such as almonds or cashews. You might want to avoid peanuts due to allergy concerns. Throw in a little sweet treat such as mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips or chocolate candies if you like. You can also toss in some whole-grain breakfast cereal and mini-cheese crackers. Package the mix up in individual zip-top bags for ease of serving.
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