Football is one thing- the kids spend their time working out, practicing moves and getting ready for the big game, but wrestling is an entirely different animal. There are weight classes to consider, multiple weigh-ins on tournament days and figuring out what to feed 15 hungry (sometimes ravenous!) teenage boys who are "watching their weight" can be more than challenging.
On tourney days- First, it's safe to assume that you're going to be traveling an hour or more to get to the actual tournament location. Then the kids will be weighed in. If they don't meet their weight (for their weight class that day) they Will be working out- HARD CORE to whip them into shape. On our last match on Saturday, one of our guys literally lost 6 pounds in less than 3 hours. I've never seen ANYTHING like it, but I was told by a parent to "get used to it" it happens every week.
The lucky ones that are within their weight class can then FINALLY eat their breakfast. Some of them are actually dehydrated from working so hard to make their weight class.
Wrestlers use short bursts of very explosive energy, Here are some inexpensive ideas for food that will give them a great start without being overloaded with heavy carbs:
- Deviled Eggs- keep them cold. They're quick protein "pick-me-ups" & the kids LOVE them.
- Breakfast Wraps (scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon/ham, green peppers/onions) wrapped in a tortilla. These can be made ahead of time, wrapped in a papertowel and placed in a cooler to keep warm. Alternatively, some schools offer access to a small kitchen or lounge (such as the teachers room). I'm not above bringing my own Microwave (a small one that I bought at Wal-mart for $20 for such events).
- Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits- these are easily made up ahead of time and are just layered yogurt & berries (frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries work the best as they don't become "mushy" when they thaw like strawberries do (A couple plastic Solo cups make great holders for clean & used spoons).
- Applesauce & Saltine Crackers- This one is really great for simple, fast digestion. It's easy on the stomach and can be made ahead in serving size containers. These I keep on hand for kids that have to work the day OF the tournament to make their weight class, starting out with something light is much easier on the stomach after a heavy workout.
Now, the kids are wrestling, you're probably busy screaming/hollering/cheering them on. When they're done with each match, they're ravenous- by midday - you're not feeding wrestlers- you're feeding a pack of pit bulls.
Some schools actually set up a "food hallway"- an area designated for coaches/parents to have their own table for their teams to grab food when they can. This makes it so much easier to set out a spread or to plug in a crockpot.
- Crockpot of Chili- the kids particularly like this one because it gives the "toots" -which is apparently a Desired after effect when you're wrestling!
- Navel Orange Slices (They can grab & go)
- Bananas - essential for replacing lost nutrients during the match
- Taco Wraps- Most kids LOVE tacos - which is simply ground beef/turkey with taco seasoning. Instead of using taco shells, which can easily break and make a mess, use flour tortillas. Toss on some seasoned meat, a handful of shredded lettuce, some shredded cheese, a dash of hot sauce if they want it and they can walk away with meal in hand. Ground Beef can be rather expensive- mix ground beef with ground turkey (Available at Aldis for under $1.40 a pound).
- Legumes are a great energy source- but try using the word legume to a wrestler and then getting him to eat it! Instead, make "Beast Wraps" These are good hot or cold, so if you don't have access to a microwave, they're still yummy.
- Meatballs in Marinara Sauce- another crockpot favorite. Hot dog buns make simple single serving size sandwiches, but you'll find that the kids prefer "run by balling"- which is when they plunge a fork into a meatball and eat them on the go.
- Sandwiches cut into 4's- I realize that we're feeding "starving" young men, not toddlers, but having bite size food ensures that they're grabbing a bit of energy throughout the day as they need it, rather than filling up on a big sandwich.
- An Extension cord- chances are you will NOT be near a convenient plug in.
- A small Microwave
- Hand Sanitizer
- Roll of Paper Towels
We'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions as well!