Sports Mama Tip: Surviving Dinnertime During Football Season

A first-time football mama recently reached out to me via email seeking advice and tips for managing dinnertime during the upcoming season; meal planning, eating somewhat healthy, and avoiding constant trips through the drive thru. As I began to respond, I realized that I hadn't yet written a blog post on this. Whaaat?! So here we are!

For those of you who may not know, football practice is daily (Monday through Friday, 2 hours each day) beginning in late July/early August. That's a whole lot of time spent at the field, and not much time left for being in the kitchen!

Here are my tried and tested tips for making the transition from the football field to the dinner table as seamless as possible:

  • Decide on when dinner will be. Before practice or after? If you're a SAHM (stay at home mom) or a WFHM (work from home mom), eating before practice may work for your family. I work outside of the home, and even though I get out at 3pm, it just doesn't work for us. I don't like for my boys to have anything more than a light snack (click here for a list of 15 healthy & energizing snack ideas!) within the hour and a half to two hours before practice begins. I've seen the results of eating McDonalds right before practice with my own two eyes. Yeah, not pretty! So for my family, dinner after practice (although late) works best.
  • Meal plan. This is different from actual meal prepping. On Sundays, before grocery shopping, I like to plan out our dinners for the week. I sit down with my planner and write down what we will eat each day. This helps cut down on the "what am I going to make tonight" thoughts that begin to take over my mind every single day at about 2:30pm. It also helps me to change up the rotation a bit more.
  • Meal prep. Meal prepping for me during football season consists of making large batches of make ahead meals. I will usually make one on Sunday and another one mid-week. If I'm feeling extra ambitious, I'll make two on Sunday. Some of my favorite make ahead meals are lasagna, spaghetti, rice and beans, and breakfast burritos. All of these are great when served as leftovers and can even be frozen.
  • Use that Crockpot. My crockpot is my BFF during football season! With just a few minutes of prep the morning of (or even the night before!), you literally just drop it (in) and go. It can't get any easier than that! You'll come home to the heavenly aroma of a home cooked meal just begging to be served. And thanks to Pinterest, the possibilities of what you can make are endless! Click HERE for two weeks worth of athlete AND Sports Mama approved recipes!
  • Keep it simple. I'm not perfect. There are times when I don't take the time to meal plan or prep and have to scramble to put dinner on the table after practice. On those days, I stick to easy 15 minute-ish meals such as tacos, sandwiches, and salads. One of my go-to's for evenings like these is a store bought rotisserie chicken with a side of quick, steamable veggies. You know, the ones you just throw in the microwave. And when all else fails, the boys will have cereal. And guess what Mama, they're A-Okay with that!
  • Eat as a team. Coach Hubby and I host team tailgates following the last practice before every home game. Not only does it encourage team bonding, but it also gets dinner out of the way- before the players even leave the field! I've written an entire blog post on how we do it, from set up to meal ideas to clean up, so be sure to check it out. It's a win-win situation!
  • Drive-thru/take out. There are going to be days that there will just be no other option. On those days, I try and head towards the healthier fast food joints. My favorites are Chick-fil-A, Panera, Chipotle, and our local Peruvian chicken place.

I hope you found these tips helpful and that they come in handy for you!

What are your tips for surviving dinnertime during football (or any!) season? Let me know in the comment section below!