A ‘balanced’ meal for an athlete is hugely important for both training and competition, so it’s a good idea to know what types of things you can cook that will give you what’s required. Below you’ll find 15 balanced meal ideas for dinner.
Balanced meals provide athletes with:
- Carbohydrates for energy to help prepare and recover from training
- Protein to help repair and replenish muscle damage
- Fats for long term energy and joint lubrication AND
- Vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and well
Some athletes can get stuck eating the same food combination because they know it’s good and balanced, but then they get bored of their food and lack variety in their diet.
So if you find yourself wondering what else you can eat, build your meals by including a food from each of these four key groups:
- lean protein +
- high fibre carbohydrates +
- nutrients/vegetables +
- small amounts of fats
Below are some examples of how to mix and match different combinations of carbs, proteins, vegetables and fats to increase your variety of balanced meal options for dinner or give something new a try.
Note that portion size and ratios of each group will vary depending on body size, goals and activity level.
15 balanced dinner ideas for athletes
- Grilled lean meat + chargrilled vegetables or salad + baked potatoes OR crusty bread to serve
- Stir fry vegetables + chicken, beef or pork + noodles or rice cooked with coconut oil
- Tomato and roasted vegetable pasta + chicken (use leftovers or BBQ chicken)
- Tuna in olive oil stirred through pasta + green beans or other veges
- Slow cooked casseroles with potatoes and vegetables – all in one
- Egg frittata with sliced sweet potato + zucchini, capsicum and feta cheese
- Spaghetti Bolognese with a salad on the side or loads of veges included in the sauce
- Lasagna made with low fat cheese or ricotta and salad to serve, or include veges in the layers
- Potato pie with a minced beef or pork and vege base + extra vege to serve
- Curries made with lean meat, light coconut milk, lots of vegetables and basmati rice
- Grilled fish with baked potatoes and steamed broccoli and asparagus
- Homemade pizza using a wrap for the base + zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, tomato, spinach, mushrooms + some leftover lean meat and small amount cheese
- Homemade burger using a wholemeal bread roll + homemade rissole + salad vegetables + hommus or avocado as a sauce
- Burrito bowls with lean mince or lentil sauce, and cheese + rice or corn + tomato, onion, capsicum, + guacamole
- Lentil dahl with light coconut milk + snow pea, bok choy, eggplant + basmati rice or crusty bread
Tip: Make extra serves of pasta, curries and casseroles and freeze for a convenient balanced meal to eat later.