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The Athletes Grocery List (Complete and with Printable!)

The athletes grocery list is a helpful tool for athletes to ensure they are eating balanced meals to improve performance and day to day energy levels.

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While I talk a lot about food and easy recipes, I’ve never created an athletes grocery list, and after talking with many clients, it seems that these recommendations are needed and would be helpful.

I always recommend to have a variety of pantry staples for running, but in terms of a runners grocery list, let’s list some nutrient-dense options out for each category.

Scroll down for a printable grocery list for athletes. 

This post can serve as a wonderful resource for athletes in the beginning stages of simple meal prep, whether you follow a vegan athlete diet or just enjoy simple athlete nutrition recipes

This grocery list for athletes is broken down into carbs, fats, protein, snack foods and even convenience items I recommend in my cart, to make your athlete snacks easy to organize!

If you want to see what a sample day looks like with many of these options, check out what I ate on a 20 mile run day


What Should Be On an Athletes’ Grocery List?

You’ll want to have a variety of foods from each food group available, and the extent of what you buy may depend on several questions and life situations.

For example, are you following a half marathon nutrition plan or are you in the off season?

Are you a new runner needing nutritional advice? Do you need ideas for the best pre game snacks?

You’ll want to consider:

  • Are you feeding young athletes? (See more on nutrition for teenage athletes need here)
  • How often are you exercising? The higher intensity/volume, the more (often) you need to eat
  • Do you follow a certain diet? (i.e. vegan diet, vegetarian foods, dairy free)
  • Are you low in any specific nutrients? (i.e. – iron, calcium, protein, vitamin D, omega 3) – Consider this post if iron supplements for runners are necessary. 
  • Are you on any medications or supplements, as prescribed by a doctor?
  • Do you like to cook or prefer convenience foods?
  • Do you prefer to meal prep breakfast, lunches, dinner, snacks, or a combination?
  • Should you subscibe to something like Thrive Market for easy snacks? I love it!

Those are just some questions to ask when coming up with a grocery list for athletes.

I love to keep many staples on hand, so my lunch ideas for runners are always popping!

We also do a majority of this vegan breakfast prep each week.

Carbs for Athletes

Carbohydrate intake is often the foundation of an athlete’s diet, and I always recommend loading up your pantry with easy carbohydrate staples.

I get most of my carbohydrate-based stables from Thrive Market. As a member, you save more money, and it’s easy to just schedule deliveries when you’re close to running out.

Thrive Market is kind of like a blend between Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s – unique items at a low cost. It’s amazing. 

And if you need some meal ideas for college students, we have plenty of budget friendly ideas!

clear jars with pantry staples
thrive market

Some of my favorite high carb foods for runners are:

  • grains (rice, quinoa, millet)
  • pasta (chickpea pasta for extra protein!)
  • breads, tortillas
  • crackers, chips
  • fruit (dried, fresh, frozen)
  • granola (for storebought, this and this are my favorite)
  • starchy and canned veggies – beets, corn, beans, pumpkin
  • oats
  • dates
  • Sun-maid and sour raisins 
  • popcorn
  • cereal – this can be especially great if you have no appetite after workout
  • snack bars (or you can make your own hemp seed bars for extra protein!)
date with peanut butter as snack before exercise may cause stomach pain for some

Having these foods readily available and stocked will make high carb snacks for athletes and homemade running snacks easy and attainable.

Some great carb snacks include:

I can usually also make my breakfast based on many of these staples.

Here are some more ideas for Breakfast for Athletes on the go

This is the sports nutrition resource you’ve been missing in your training. It can help make sure you’re eating enough for performance and recovery.grab it now!

intuitive eating ebook

Protein Foods

This runners grocery list includes both meat based and plant-based protein options so shop accordingly!

If you follow a vegan diet for runners, there are still plenty of meal options and ways to meet your needs for protein for athletes. 

Similarly, nutritional yeast is a great option for vegan runners because of its nutritional profile. 

I like seeing my athletes have a high protein grocery list because we want adequate protein at each meal and snack.

closeup of sweet potato turkey and apple burger in bun
Turkey Apple Burger

How Much Protein Do Runners Need?

Like any athlete, runners should be getting protein at every meal, spread evenly throughout the day. See more details about protein for runners here.

The focus on protein should happen after a workout as opposed to before a workout, though there is some literature suggesting that pre-workout protein may mitigate some of the muscle breakdown and soreness.

More on the difference between pre workout and post workout nutrition. Some of my favorite protein snacks are pre made energy bites.

Many of these are important for injury recovery!

Butcher Box sends you nourishing, grass-fed, organic meat and seafood. My personal favorites are the wild caught salmon, organic free range diced chicken breast, and beef barbacoa. We have so many recipes with these nutritious, delicious ingredients, like this salmon below.

Save $50 on your Butcher Box order!

Butcher box salmon with sweetpotatoes and salad on blue plate
Save $50 on your Butcher Box order!

While there’s no best protein for athletes, it’s so important to get a variety of foods to ensure a distribution of the amino acids, especially leucine.

Leucine is an important one, specifically, for athletes because it can help with muscle building and reducing breakdown, among other things. 

See more about leucine for athletes here!

Eggs, dairy, meat on table, as foods high in leucine


As mentioned above, nuts and seeds are great sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Also,

If you want to try making your own peanut butter, try this cinnamon salted peanut butter. So easy!

Salted cinnamon peanut butter in glass jar with knife


Did you know my college nickname was snacks? And for good reason. I was (and still am!) always snacking on something.

Snacks are the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between meals and keep you from getting too hungry. Furthermore, they provide additional opportunities throughout the day to get nutrients in.

perfect bar

It’s really difficult to meet your nutrient needs as an athlete through just three square meals, so consider these opportunities. 

I love:

Variety of Snacks When Traveling

Convenience Foods

As I discuss in my marathon training, when you’re in training, you have to think about your energy and “slices of the pie.”

Chocolate Chip Apple Crumble
Gluten Free Apple Crisp

When your training increases, that’s going to take up a larger portion of the pie. That means there are fewer of other portions, so you want to streamline or make it as easy as can be.

That may look like:

  • Ordering more meal delivery
  • Paying for more babysitting
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • frozen pizza
  • Buying pre-chopped veggies or more convenience bars
  • Eating out or getting takeout
  • Power Bites pre-made rather than making your own
  • buying granola rather than making your own
  • Hiring help on your business
thrive market

All of these things can make your life easier and reduce the amount of time spent on other things. 

I really love Sun Basket – their directions are easy to follow, and the food is delicious. 

Stack of Freshly boxes in refrigerator

Fun Foods

For lack of a better term, these foods don’t necessarily fall into the above categories, though they are technically carbohydrates. They are less nutrient-dense, though I would argue, still important and maybe even essential to help meet energy needs. 

Plus, they generally improve quality of life and convenience is a big factor!

Some of my favorites include:

  • ice cream and ice cream cones
  • peanut butter cups
  • teddy grahams
  • graham crackers (great for a pre run snack)
  • frozen waffles (a staple pre run meal for me)

You’ll want to include some of your favorites too.

Repeat after me – eating sweets regularly reduces the feeling of out of control eating and binge eating

Where to get ice cream in Montauk Harbor


I’m a big fan of getting what you can through food. That being said, many athletes need certain supplements, sometimes iron, Vitamin D or omega 3 fatty acids.

Vital Proteins collagen peptides

Sometimes, supplements for runners are necessary. 

  • Creatine – I pretty much always recommend creatine to my athletes because it’s one of the most researched supplements out there and there are not really any negative side effects. 
  • Collagen – I personally add collagen to my coffee each morning. It’s not a magic elixir, but there is some interesting research coming out about athletes and collagen. 
  • Tart Cherry – This can be great post workout, and can help minimize inflammation. In this study, participants ingested just over a cup of tart cherry juice twice daily for 7 days, and it resulted in less pain after running. 
grocery list for runners

What are some of your favorite grocery foods?



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