Nutritious lunch box ideas for kids during winters
Nutrition & Diet

Nutritious lunch box ideas for kids during winters

Written by Rasika Thakur Parab
Published: February 6, 2023

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Consulting Medical Nutritionist with an experience of more than 14 years.

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Table of Contents
  • arrow-right Whole grains
  • arrow-right Jaggery/honey
  • arrow-right Yoghurt
  • arrow-right Sweet potato
  • arrow-right Citrus fruits
  • arrow-right Nuts and dry fruits
  • arrow-right Soups

The nip in the air or harsh winters, depending on which region you belong to, also come with food cravings, exercising less, staying indoors more, and lack of sunlight and water consumption. No matter the season, these factors adversely affect your child’s well-being but often worsen during the chilly weather. 

Winter blues can bring down your kid’s immunity and stamina, affecting their bodies differently. How do we cope and course-correct the changes that occur in their bodies during this season? Well, nutrition plays a significant role here. 

To begin with, let’s understand one ground rule — winter nutritional requirements are different from summertime; therefore, the foods (and nutrients) that work wonders in summer don’t necessarily work well in the cold season. That said, it would help to know what foods are healthy for your young one and what you can include in their lunch boxes, which will actually be eaten, if not devoured. Let’s dive into lunch box ideas for kids during winter:

1. Whole grains

The consumption of whole grains and oatmeal is an excellent inclusion in breakfast and tiffin boxes. These foods satiate hunger and leave kids feeling full for longer periods. They are also ‘feel good’ foods as they increase serotonin, stabilising their moods, making them active and staying focused for longer durations. 

A good lunch-box option is to give kids jowar/bajra/ragi or makka pancakes. These variations are better substitutes than wheat and are digested better in the winter. 

2. Jaggery/honey

To increase their immunity, complement these pancakes with curd, jaggery, or dal (pulse). Because of its beneficial qualities, jaggery is better than white sugar. It helps eliminate coughs and colds and fights lung infections. Rich in iron, it aids in transporting oxygen in the blood and boosting haemoglobin levels. Therefore, kids stay healthy and active.

If your child does not fancy jaggery with pancakes, give them honey, which is a good substitute. You can also provide jaggery laddoos as dessert in the lunch box. Jaggery and honey are rich in iron, a much-needed mineral. A natural sweetener, honey has better nutritional value than white sugar. Due to its warm propensity, it is better to consume honey during cold weather.   

3. Yoghurt

Since it’s chilly outside, many of us (including kids) remain indoors for longer periods (than, say, during springtime or summer). We spend more time with people in closed rooms, risking our health and compromising our immunity. Exposure to air pollutants can cause inflammation, coughs, and colds. Yoghurt with honey is an excellent option for an add-on with a tiffin of fruits, eggs, and pancakes. 

The other aspect is that we tend to drink less water in winter. Also, although we sweat less than we do in the summer season, fluid loss in our bodies can be as high due to dehydration and lower humidity, amongst others. Adding yoghurt to kids lunch box is a great way of maintaining the water level in the body, besides ensuring they get a healthy dose of calcium.   

Another factor to note here is the strong connection between our gut and the brain. Fermented foods such as yoghurt keep the digestive system healthy by populating the gut with diverse microbes. This is, therefore, a highly beneficial food for your kid.

Don’t hesitate from giving your child yoghurt even in winter as it’s just a myth that cold yoghurt in winter is harmful. So, whip up some yoghurt dip and serve it with Veg Cutlets or add a fresh portion to muesli for breakfast.

4. Sweet potato

Another healthy food that’s also a rich source of resistant starch to keep your kid feeling satiated longer. you can make a halwa (with jaggery) or add a dash of chaat masala to peeled boiled sweet potato slices. Also, it’s an excellent prebiotic that improves gut health.

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5. Citrus fruits

Speaking of Vitamin C, one of the best things to add to your kid’s lunch box is citrus fruits, such as lemons, sweet lime, kiwi, grapefruits, gooseberries, oranges, and kino. A strong antioxidant, it is an immunity booster as it prevents free radicals from causing inflammation. 

Consuming Vitamin C-rich fruits also prevent various infections. Kids are more susceptible to getting hurt when they play. These fruits, also rich in folic acid, heal wounds faster in the winter season as this nutrient aids in the production of new, healthy cells. 

Dishes like kiwi tarts or fruit salads are good lunch box ideas that will delight your kid. Mixing citrus fruits with sprouts can also give the nutritious salad a tangy taste which many kids love.

6. Nuts and dry fruits

A good source of zinc, nuts are a must-have in the winter season. These boost immunity and have wound-healing qualities, too. A handful of walnuts, almonds or cashews can be a great add-on to the tiffin box’s main food

Nuts are among the best foods to keep your child’s body warm and energetic. Highly rich in nutrients, one of the most significant advantages of adding nuts to any tiffin is that it improves metabolism. 

Spread it over any dessert or give them separately in a tiffin box. It’s a great snack to have in the winter season. Figs, raisins, pistachios, peanuts, dates, and other dry fruits are great energy sources. Your kid would gobble up dry fruits without a fuss.

Another major benefit of having dry fruits is that they are rich in essential oils and antioxidants. Therefore, in the winter, its consumption keeps the skin radiant and glowing, preventing dryness and itchiness.

7. Soups

Winter is a season of vegetables. While many children do not readily warm up to veggies in a conventional form, different variations of thick soups are a good option. 

Soups that include carrots (abundantly found in this season) along with potatoes, lentils, spinach, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, etc, with a sprinkle of pepper and salt, are extremely good for your child’s overall immunity. 

In a season when a wide variety of fruits are also available, the biggest advantage is the varied dishes that you can make. Be sure to keep it as colourful as possible to include as many nutrients and micronutrients. From baked potato chips to vegetable cutlets, innovative, delicious, and nutritional foods can be prepared for your child’s lunch box. Mix and match their likes with the seasonal foods available, and you’ll be able to give them the best lunch-box tiffins they will relish, and their bodies will benefit from. Besides soups, you can also make pakoda, parathas, cutlets and so on and get the benefits of antioxidants. Smearing ghee on the parathas will not be frowned upon as it is a good-quality fat that’s crucial for winter. 

With these lunch box ideas, your kid will be healthy and full of energy to do all the important things like play and study without feeling lethargic or getting hungry again and again. Nutrition is the best way to turn their winter woes into winter wows!

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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