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Busy Athlete Meal Prep: the Pantry Staples You Need!

You’re a busy runner who knows how important your nutrition is for your daily life, running and your goals. You know it would be helpful to meal plan, grocery shop and meal prep ahead of your busy week but your weekends are busy and you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it… sound familiar?  

Here’s your busy athlete meal prep solution: having staples in your pantry, fridge and freezer so you can put together easy, healthy meals and snacks without dedicating a whole lot of time to meal prepping.  

An image showing frozen foods for easy meal prep for runners

Meal Planning for Athletes 

You’re first step is to spend a few minutes planning out your meals and snacks then shopping ahead of your week to make sure you have your staples stocked in your home! Use the guidelines below to help you plan well-balanced meals and snacks.

Build a balanced athlete meal by having all 4 parts on your plate:

  • Grains/starches
  • Protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Color (fruits/ veggies)

Build a balanced athlete snack by having all 3 parts on your plate:

  • Carbs
  • Protein
  • Color (fruits/ veggies)

Check out Meal Prep for Athletes: a 6 Step-Guide for meal planning and shopping tips and my Runner’s Plates and Runner’s Snacks framework.  

Let’s look at some examples of staples you can keep in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Then we’ll look at meal and snack ideas to help you use your staples!

Pantry Staples

An image showing pantry staples helpful for athletes

Grains/Starch

  • Dry rice
  • Pre-cooked rice packets 
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Polenta
  • Tortillas
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Cereal
  • Granola
  • Oats

Fruits/Veggies

  • Canned veggies 
  • Dehydrated veggies 
  • Fruit cups 
  • Dried fruit 

Proteins

  • Canned beans (kidney, pinto, black, etc)
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Canned meat, fish, seafood 
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Roasted edamame 
  • Shelf stable milk
  • Protein powder
  • Protein bars 

Fats: 

  • Oils 
  • Nuts/nut butter
  • Seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds
  • Salad dressing 

Fridge/Freezer Staples 

An image showing a list of refrigerator and freezer staples that are helpful for creating an athlete meal

Grains/Starches 

  • Bread, bagels, English muffins 
  • Frozen rice 
  • Frozen quinoa 
  • Frozen winter squash
  • Frozen waffles 
  • Frozen pizza dough
  • Frozen muffins 
  • Microwave potatoes 

Fruits/ Veggies 

  • Frozen fruit
  • Frozen veggies 

Proteins 

  • Frozen meat
  • Frozen seafood: fish, shrimp
  • Frozen burgers: veggie, turkey, beef 
  • Frozen leftover soups/crockpot meals 
  • Frozen edamame 
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh 
  • Greek yogurt 

Meal and Snack Examples Using Your Staples 

Athlete Breakfast Ideas 

Check out these 3 other breakfast ideas

Looking for more guidance with your breakfast? Check out The Ultimate Guide to an Athlete Breakfast

Athlete Lunch and Dinner Ideas

  • Taco bowl with rice, black beans, tempeh, mixed greens, avocado, taco sauce
  • Tuna sandwich with pretzels, dried fruit and bell pepper slices 
  • Stir fry with rice noodles, shelled edamame, cooked veggies, garlic and coconut aminos 
  • Shrimp broccoli foil packets
An image showing an athlete lunch idea: shrimp broccoli foil packets

Athlete Snacks

  • Homemade trail mix: dried fruit, walnuts, roasted edamame, dark chocolate 
  • Snack plate: Chomp turkey stick, cheese, crackers, veggies/fruit
An image showing an athlete snack of trail mix with roasted edamame, dried cherries, walnuts and dark chocolate

Takeaways

Having staples in your pantry, fridge and freezer can allow you to put together easy, healthy meals and snacks without dedicating a whole lot of time to meal prepping on the weekends. 

Spend a few minutes planning out your meals and snacks then shopping ahead of your week to make sure you have your staples stocked in your home!

Now go and create your own plan using these staples and stock up on your next grocery haul! 


If you’re looking for individualized support with your nutrition through nutrition coachingapply here or reach out and let’s chat.

Hi, I’m Emily!

I’m a Registered Dietitian, RRCA Run Coach & NASM Certified Personal Trainer. I am passionate about helping runners dial in their fueling, training and mindset so they can feel good, go the distance and smash their goals.