Healthy Winter Lunchbox Ideas

Is your typical lunch just not cutting it lately?  Is your body craving something different,  maybe something with warmth or substance?  During the cold months of winter you may want to switch up your lunch to a hot meal.  Maybe you want a meal that keeps you healthy, or a meal that uses fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables.

Have a Hot Meal
Some great hot meal options could be soup or chili, and if you're eating either from a can be sure to choose low-sodium options.  Whether you eat at home or at your workplace you can simply reheat your soup or chili in a microwave safe dish or in a pot on the stove.  Be sure to follow the reheating instructions on the can label.  If you don't have access to a microwave or stove at your workplace, you can heat your meal in the morning before work and place it in a thermos to be eaten later.  Don't have a microwave, stove, or thermos?  A small, portable crock pot is also a great option.

Boost Your Immune System
If you're looking for a meal that gives you what you need to stay healthy, try to pack foods with Vitamin C and D.  Vitamin C helps your body build a strong immune system to fight off the cold and flu.
Some examples of foods with Vitamin C are:

  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • kiwi 
  • bell peppers
  • dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and broccoli
Vitamin D is a vitamin our body gets from the sun.  In the winter months our bodies see much less sunlight than in the summer so we get less Vitamin D.  Vitamin D helps our bodies build a strong immune system and absorb calcium to build and maintain strong bones.  Vitamin D is found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.  Choose the low-fat or fat free dairy products.

Eat In-Season
If you try to eat a diet made up of local and in-season foods there are some delicious winter options for you!  Some wonderful vegetables that can be found at your grocery store or farmers' market are:
  • potatoes
  • kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • squash
Fruits found in the produce department are:
  • oranges
  • clementines
  • pomegranates
  • kiwi
Need some ideas?
  • Throw a clementine or two in your lunch box.
  • Reheat last night's dinner of turkey, broccoli, and sweet potatoes in your thermos.
  • Have a glass of milk instead of soda.
There are simple steps that you can do every day to have a healthy, immune system-boosting lunch this winter.  What will you try to start tomorrow?
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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall