The best bus snacks for a vegan athlete
I don’t know about where you live, but here, games can be hours away from home. And once you arrive, it’s straight to the warm up!
And maybe you’ll stop somewhere to eat on the way home, but maybe not, because it’s already really late and everyone has school tomorrow.
So, what’s a plant-based teen athlete to do? Eat on the bus of course!
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Before you even get to the bus ride
Start your day with a solid breakfast containing protein, fat, and carbohydrate. This is not a post about breakfast, so I’ll keep this brief.
Something like oatmeal with fruit and nut butter **, and a glass of soy milk. Or frozen waffles with syrup, plant-based sausages, a piece of fruit, and a glass of soy milk. Or yogurt with lots granola and fruit.
Milk alternatives other than soy work too, but soy is my favorite because of its nutrients.
Ok, it’s lunch time. Let’s keep it up.
Packed lunch from home
The easiest: a sandwich or wrap or pita, fruit, veg, milk. Try smoked tempeh with lettuce and tomato. Or hummus and veggies in a pita. Or tofu cubes and greens in a wrap.
If you’re going to eat a salad for lunch, make it count. A sprinkle of nuts is not going to get you the protein you need, especially on game day; add beans, tempeh or tofu. Try adding cooked grains like quinoa or rice. Add some raw or roasted veggies to your base of greens. And don’t forget the dressing!
Vegetarians, avoid the pizza on game day. (Vegans, I’m assuming you’re avoiding the pizza anyway.)
If there’s an entrée you can eat, pair it with a salad, a piece of fruit, and a glass of milk. Many schools carry soy milk now!
If there is not an entree you can eat, most schools will have a sunbutter sandwich available. Grab this, and again pair it with salad, fruit, and a glass of soy milk.
Eating lunch at home
Maybe this game isn’t on a school day. Or you homeschool. Or you go home for lunch.
Have some pasta with red sauce, white beans, and greens.
Have a meat-alternative with a side of veggies and rice, with a glass of soy milk or juice.
Have a flatbread with caramelized onion, greens, olives. No cheese or easy on the cheese!
Or maybe try a baked potato? Top it with chili and add some fruit and you’re good to go!
Bus snacks on the way to the game
Hopefully you’ve started with a nutritious breakfast and lunch. Now, 1-2 hours before your game you’re going to want something with carbohydrates and protein, but not very much fat or fiber.
Of course, if it’s a morning bus ride, you obviously haven’t had all day to fill up. The following suggestions will work in that case too!
Remember, you’re on a bus, so whatever you bring has to travel well. No toast and jam for you.
- cereal bar or protein bar ** and fruit
- dried fruit and soy milk **
- drinkable shake
- yogurt (consider soy for the most protein) and fruit
- smoothie (be sure it includes an alt-milk with protein or protein powder, not just fruit)
Shorter bus rides
If your bus ride isn’t that long, and you only have time for a small snack, consider the following:
- fruit gummies or strips ** (look out for gelatin in the ingredients list)
- sports drink **
- dried fruit **
Bus snacks on the way home from the game
First immediately after your game, replace fluids. Drink water, a sports drink **, or chocolate milk (soy totally counts!) **, depending on the length and intensity of your game.
Now, on the bus, you’ll need some food. The things I suggested to pack for lunch will work for after a game as well. For some of these, you might need to bring a cooler. And think about how easy they’ll be to eat on the bus.
- sandwich, wrap, or pita, with fruit and alt-milk or juice.
- tofu cubes, vegetable, fruit and alt-milk or juice.
- nut butter and banana on a bagel with alt-milk or juice.
- veggies and hummus, fruit, popcorn, with alt-milk or juice. Yes, this is a meal.
Gym bag stash of bus snacks for an athlete
So, yeah. Sometimes you haven’t planned ahead. Sometimes you have planned ahead and you still need more. (Sometimes you have a teammate who didn’t plan ahead and you’d like to help.)
If this happens, it’s helpful to have a few things in your bag, just in case.
Do me a favor – swap them out every once in a while. It’s awful to need something, only to find that it’s squashed, or the package is torn, or it’s expired, or it’s missing completely.
Here are some things to keep in your sports/gym bag:
- fruit gummies or strips **
- sports drink **
- dried fruit, if it’s in a sealed package
- sleeve or small pack of crackers **
- granola bars or protein bars **
- shelf-stable milk alternative **
On the way to a game, prioritize protein and carbs, and take it easy on fiber and fat. Try a cereal bar or protein bar with fruit, dried fruit and alt-milk, a drinkable shake, yogurt and fruit or a pre-made protein smoothie.
On the way home from a game, eat more! Prioritize all macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. How about a sandwich, wrap, or pita? Snackables like tofu cubes, veggies and hummus, and popcorn work well too.
If you just have time for a quick energy boost, gummies, fruit, or a sports drink will work. And consider keeping your gym bag stocked with non-perishables, just in case!
About the Author
Sarah Skovran, RDN LD ACE-PT, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, ACE certified personal trainer, mom of a teen athlete, and is mostly vegan. She writes about sports nutrition, plant based eating, and adolescent nutrition at Plant Powered Teens, and sees in-person clients at her private practice in Maine.