Having a plan around what you’ll be eating this Nutcracker season is an awesome way to ensure that you’re eating well. Cooking at home means you’re in control of what’s in your food and you can focus on quality ingredients that promote post-show recovery. So, even if you’re already into the craziness of this performance season, take some time to create your Nutcracker Season meal plan.

Take into account the weather. Do you experience cold winters where you’re living? It’s unlikely that you’ll be craving cold foods like smoothies and salads. Yes, perhaps you can convince yourself to eat them, but we tend to crave warm, more comforting foods in the winter. Keeping these factors in mind while finding ease in your meal plan is key to a more enjoyable season.

Creating your Nutcracker season meal plan.

In this post, you’ll find lots of plant-based, vegan food options. However, you can easily adjust these meals to include some animal products if you typically include them in your meal plan.

I’m going to take you through the process of creating a meal plan with lots of delicious recipe examples. And many of these recipes are created by dancers!! You can of course include different meal options, but use this as a guide to creating a plan. Find the meals you enjoy eating and making, and add those to your meal plan through the same process.

Make a list of your nutrient-packed meals for Nutcracker performance weeks.

The busyness of this season requires planning. Think ahead about what you can make that’s easy, delicious, and replenishing. It’s important that you acknowledge how much you’re dancing when you take into account all the performances, rehearsals, and warm-up classes.

Commit to eating enough to support all of that movement and the impending audition season. Pack lots of snacks for the theater so you don’t end up fueling only with the plentiful cookies and candy found in dressing rooms. Of course, some of that is OK! You just don’t want it to become your primary performance fuel.

Breakfast: Nutcracker season meal plan performance fuel.

I am in the camp of breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Really, all your meals and snacks are opportunities for joy, pleasure, and nourishment. Breakfast can set the stage for a day of eating that benefits your body, mind, and dancing.

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Here are some sweet and savory ways to start the day. Whatever meals you decide to try, pay attention to how long they keep you satisfied and energized. Based on your body’s cues, make adjustments and additions to your meals. Here are some great options to get you started:

Lunch: a meal that requires lots of flexibility in your Nutcracker season meal plan.

With school matinees and evening shows on many nights, you may or may not even be able to leave the theater for lunch. Some days, you might have rehearsals during what otherwise might have been a break. Varying scenarios mean flexibility for your midday meal is a must.

For dancers, lunch often ends up being a collection of snacks or a small meal and some snacks. For lots of snacking inspiration (over 30 recipes and ideas), grab my snacking guide here. Here are some simple lunch ideas to get you started. These can work for dinner as well, so lunch may be leftovers from dinner:

Soups are warm and comforting and can be totally packed with nutrition. You can achieve some awesome creaminess in soup by adding blended oats. By cooking vegetables in your soup, you’ll maintain their nutrient density. 

Nutcracker season dinner might be late at night. That’s OK.

Once again, a focus on quick recipes and nutrient-dense fuel will do well to serve your body. You’re expecting a lot from yourself as you perform night after night, so commit to giving back to your body with helpful fuel. If you’re concerned about eating late at night for the possible impact on body composition or weight, remember it’s much more important to consider the overall picture than what happens for one day or one specific meal.

As an aside, when it comes to the correlation between late night eating and weight, research is inconclusive. Don’t let fears surrounding weight gain stop you from properly fueling and replenishing your body (ever).

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Don’t forget convenience food for this busy time. 

While dancers generally choose to avoid overly processed, packaged food, it’s important to allow yourself to buy some easy and convenient food options. If you’re going to have late nights, have meals ready so you can simply heat them up. When you’re not able to get that planning and prep done ahead of time, make sure you have frozen and canned convenience options as a go-to. Here are some of my favorite time savers:

  • Amy’s soups – Pro tip, add fresh chopped kale or broccoli when you heat up!
  • Tasty Bite pre–packed Indian options (Vegan and Vegetarian)
  • Ancient Harvest Quinoa – just add your veggies, protein, and spices/sauce
  • Frozen, pre–cooked brown rice. Super easy to warm up in a pot.
  • Frozen, organic pre-chopped vegetables.
  • Snack bars and packaged snacks.

Do some Nutcracker Season meal planning ahead of time with these questions:

When can you cook? Combine cooking tasks with relaxing time. Lots of these meal options include baked veggies. Once you’ve set up the veggies, you just stick them in the oven and you get a break! Use that time to sew pointe shoes, relax and watch Netflix, journal, or read.

When can you go grocery shopping? Stock your kitchen as much as possible: frozen organic veggies are a great staple for your freezer, and keep your pantry stocked with spices, oils, onions, potatoes, nuts, nut butters, grains, quinoa, canned tomatoes/beans/coconut milk – things that will help you easily make a meal.

Make your grocery list based on the store layout. Write your list based on the layout of the grocery store. If grocery delivery is available to you, that’s a great way to check one task more easily off your list. Nutcracker is a lot, so make fueling yourself as simple as possible. Do you have any questions or concerns I didn’t cover here? Send me an email or comment here and let me know! I’d love to support you towards an easier, more balanced Nutcracker season meal plan!!

Your Nutcracker Season Meal Plan

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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