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3 Fun Customizable Noodle Bowls to Satisfy and Fuel Any Athlete

Noodle bowls are one of the most versatile options that busy parents can make to keep athletes well-fed and properly fueled—and most noodle bowls can be repurposed into leftovers for lunch or tweaked entirely new meals for the next night!

Here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, shares a few easy ways to make tasty noodle bowls that hit all the nutrition requirements of a growing athlete and taste good too!

Why make noodle bowls?

Before we get into the recipes, Ziesmer has a few reasons why noodle bowls are ideal for athletes and their families.

  1. Noodle bowls offer easy portion control. “If your athlete had a double day of practices, they are going to need more calories in general, specifically carbohydrates and protein, to refill glycogen stores and kickstart recovery,” Ziesmer explains. “At the same time, you may not want a dinner heavy on carbohydrates because you were at the office all day.” So while your athlete may need a double serving of noodles, you might opt to mix greens into your noodles and stick to a smaller serving of carbs. Ziesmer says this is a great way to let athletes eat what they need without the risk that an athlete feels like they’re overeating because they’re obviously skimping on carbs.
  2. Noodle bowls are easy to customize for picky eaters. “The nice thing with noodle bowls is that if you have one athlete who’s vegan and one who eats meat, for example, you can provide options for both without preparing entirely different meals,” says Ziesmer. Some athletes may prefer cheese on pasta while others prefer chili flakes, so build-your-own noodle bowl meals cater to all types of eaters!
  3. Noodle bowls are easy to meal prep. Because you can prepare so much of the dish in advance, it’s easy to spend a couple of hours on meal prep once a week, then only a few minutes in the kitchen ahead of mealtime. You can pre-cook different meats, prepare certain sauces, and chop and prep vegetables for easy steaming.
  4. Noodle bowls teach athletes about healthy plates. Because noodles are so easy to customize, Ziesmer says, your athlete will learn some basic cooking skills. Even if they aren’t the ones cooking the chicken, your athlete will gain an understanding of the different elements that make up a meal, making it easier for them to navigate a training camp or college dining hall eventually.
  5. Noodle bowls can be customized to avoid allergens. If your athlete is gluten-free, it’s easy to swap in a lentil pasta instead of whole wheat, says Ziesmer. Rice pasta is a fun way to experiment with new flavors as well.
  6. Noodle bowls are perfect for leftovers. Have extra spaghetti and sauce? You can toss that into a slow cooker with some broth and frozen vegetables and have a noodle soup for the next night! And don’t underestimate how tasty cold pasta can be at lunch the next day. Even meal-prepping the basics—your proteins and vegetables—without seasoning can make mixing and matching your noodle, sauce, vegetable, and protein combos all week easier.

Noodle bowl recipes

Spaghetti bar

“My favorite option is the spaghetti bar,” says Ziesmer. It allows for easy customization, and spaghetti is generally a good choice for even the pickiest athlete.

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