When I’m packing meet snacks for my swimmers, I always wonder what other families feed their children. Many of us have a small, shoulder-bag type cooler we take with us wherever we go stocked with food and drinks.
I find it really keeps costs down, and it helps the kids stick to a food plan leading up to and through the last day of a meet. After all, swimmers should only be eating familiar foods they can easily tolerate. Never count on a concession stand to fuel your children. Most of the things I have seen sold are not conducive to good racing including: pizza, candy bars, pop, hot dogs, donuts, and bags of chips.
I purchased my picnic thermal tote several years ago from Thirty-One gifts (www.thirtyonegifts.com). The square shape makes it perfect for tucking under your seat in the bleachers or leaving it at your feet when things get really crowded. The bag zips all the way around and has one exterior pocket where we tuck in items we need to keep close in hand.
This is what I typically put in our snack bag on the morning of a meet:
- Bottled water. The kids have reusable water bottles they refill all day. However, they say the water tastes “funny” at some swim venues. I want to make sure they stay hydrated, and I don’t want to spend $1 or more per bottle at concessions, so I bring some bottles from home. After all, you can buy a case of 24 for $3 or less and that’s a big money saver!
- I usually pack a variety of fresh fruit and/or fruit cups. In the summer, watermelon and strawberries are a big hit. In the winter, clementines, pears, and a bag of pre-sliced apples are the main requests.
- I fill small, Ziplock snack bags with their favorite animal, graham, and snack crackers.
- Pretzels and peanut butter. Again, I fill a Ziplock snack bag with pretzels and send along to-go containers of peanut butter to dip them in. We also like to dip carrots in peanut butter, so you may want to try that combination, too.
- Unsweetened apple sauce. This is the go-to snack that my kids eat right after warm-ups. It is especially good for those who get gastrointestional distress when feeling anxious. You can buy the individual applesauce cups or invest in a larger jar and portion it into smaller containers. Don’t forget to pack plastic, disposable spoons!
- Cheese sticks. This is a convenient way to have some protein and keep your swimmers feeling full. Freeze them overnight before putting them into the cooler.
- Dinner roll sandwiches. Depending on how long a meet runs, swimmers may need a more substantial snack in between races. That’s when I pack turkey or ham sandwiches made on dinner rolls or Hawaiian rolls. Remember, it is not about quantity but quality and timing when you fuel your swimmer. A small sandwich will fuel them better than snacks, if they have enough time to digest it before their event.
- Hand sanitizer, tissues, disposable spoons, ibuprofen, Sharpie marker, pen, and mints. These items go into the front pocket on the cooler.
So, what do you pack in your family’s snack bag?