February 28, 2018

20 Hot & Cold Lunch Ideas for Sports Tournaments

Meal ideas for packing lunches for baseball, softball, soccer and other sports tournaments.

Meal ideas for packing lunches for baseball, softball, soccer and other sports tournaments.

Some of you may know this, but if you didn’t, I’m a Baseball and Softball Mom! I even started another blog about it! Don’t get too excited about that because I’ve put it on the back burner for a bit. This blog, South Your Mouth, my baby, suffered last year when I was dealing with all my back issues and surgery (and probably some mild depression but we don’t need to talk about that because, well, it was depressing!) so I’ve dedicated this year to focusing on you guys and South Your Mouth!

ANYwho… spring ball is about to kick up so I thought I’d share with you some of my tips for feeding your troops at the ball field. This is a question I’m asked the most by other sports moms – what to pack for lunches at tournaments??

My kids play travel ball so we’re at the ballpark anywhere from 6-12 hours a day both Saturday and Sunday when we play tournaments on the weekends (baseball’s not so bad but it takes a special kind of human to do travel softball because you’re there ALL DAY LONG).

Do you know how long it takes to get sick of eating ham sandwiches? Exactly one tournament.

If you’re really serious about better food at the ballpark, you need to think about the following when it comes to HOT food. If your kid plays any kind of sport outside, you’ve already invested in good coolers and cooler bags for keeping things cold but who says we have to limit ourselves to cold stuff?

Thermal Bowls
Mama bought some of these and they are AH MAZE ING. They’re really just giant thermoses that hold several servings instead of an individual one. Just search “portable thermal bowls” or “thermal serving bowls” and you’ll find several on Amazon and QVC (pay attention to quart size because some of them are on the small size). You can whip up something in the morning, transfer it into your thermal bowl, seal it up then BOOM! hot food later!

Thermal Hot/Cold Serving Bowls from QVC
Thermal Hot/Cold Serving Bowls from QVC

Crock Pots
Several of the fields we play at have electrical outlets available – you just have to look for them! But if you don’t have access, use your car! Many SUVs have traditional electrical outlets these days but if your vehicle doesn’t, you can buy an adapter that plugs into your car’s DC port. Search “DC to AC car adapter” and you’ll find tons. You’ll need to make sure your car’s DC port works when the vehicle is off or this won’t work for you. Be sure to start your car as needed to make sure you don’t run your battery down (I’ve never had an issue with my crock pot set on low).

Capitalize on the Hot Weather
OK, I felt a little weird doing this the first time but then I realized how silly that was! Some days it’s anywhere from 90-100 degrees out when the kids are playing ball. The inside of my car reaches at least 500 million degrees when it sits in the parking lot all day. On those super hot days, all I have to do is wrap hot food in tin foil and leave it in the car! TOO EASY!

OK, now on to the food! You can get as fancy as you want but when it comes to packing up lunches for a day at the ball field, I ain’t trying to get up six hours early to prepare a four-course meal. Here are the easy meals I prepare (though there are infinite possibilities with crock pot recipes):

The majority of the ideas below are linked to recipes - just click or tap to get there!

There are now 23 ideas below because I keep remembering more when I'm in the shower, driving to work or trying to go to sleep at night!!


Use any of the above methods to keep your dishes hot until you’re ready to eat!
  • Chili Dogs – pack the chili in one container and hot dogs in another. Bring buns and condiments (I stock up on packets of mustard and ketchup at fast food joints so I can just bring those).
  • Franks & Beans
  • Tavern Sandwiches – just bring some buns and you’re all set!
  • Chili – Serve with corn chips and shredded cheese.
  • Meatball Subs – bring a zip-top bag of mozzarella and some buns then assemble the subs at eatin’ time.
  • Easy Chicken & Rice Soup
  • Sloppy Joes – Cook up the meat mixture in the morning and bring buns!
  • Walking Tacos – Open an individual-size bag of corn chips, tortilla chips or Doritos, spoon hot taco meat into the bag over the chips then top with cheese. Stick a plastic fork in there and you’re ready to eat!
  • White Trash Sliders – Serve the cheesy, meaty filling on sliders!
  • Italian Sausage Dogs - pack the cooked sausages in marinara sauce one container then sauteed peppers and onions in another. 


  • Roll-Ups – Instead of traditional sandwiches, I like to make an assortment of tortilla roll-ups then cut them into small servings so you can sample a few different kinds. My favorites to make are Turkey Bacon Ranch (spread ranch dip on tortilla then top with shredded cheese, turkey slices and bacon) and what I call “Deli Roll-Ups” (mayo, favorite deli meat and cheese, and spinach leaves).
  • Chicken Salad Sliders – I make an assortment of chicken salads (actually easy to use one batch to make three different kinds – check out my recipe for Chicken Salad Three Ways) then make small sliders so you can sample a few different kinds.
  • Frito Corn Salad
  • Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pasta Salad
  • Tuna Noodle Salad
  • Ham Salad – Bring a bowl of this then serve with crackers or sandwich bread.
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches – I like to make mine on good ol’ white bread then cut them into triangles.
  • Pimento Cheese Sandwiches – same as with the egg salad
  • “Subosaurus” – I make one gigantic sub sandwich on a loaf of Italian bread then wrap it up tight. When I have time I like to pack a dish of sliced tomatoes and onions with Italian dressing to add to the sub when it's time to eat (if you add them before you pack it, the sub will get soggy).When it’s time to eat, I slice it into individual serving sizes.
  • Loaded Pimento Cheese – Serve with crackers or celery sticks.
  • Seafood Salad – I like to make sandwiches with pita bread or serve with crackers.
  • Fruit - I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a container of assorted ice-cold fruit for the players. We don’t let our kids eat a lot of junk between games so they’ll often just focus on the fruit and have a tad of the above (the rest is eaten mostly by the parents). The favorites seem to be watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and strawberries.
  • Pizza Pasta Salad
  • Picnic Pasta Salad

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  1. I absolutely love your site and receiving my emails. Keep up the good work and have a great day. Jacquie

  2. We are grandparents of baseball players! Love your recipes. I run out of ideas. We have it a little easier with hot food because we have a small RV we take for games. Great for cooking, taking naps, and getting out of the sun!

  3. I want to be your ball park mom friend! All the time I've spent all ballparks and I've never thought of this! Such great ideas!


Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy