Eating the right foods over winter

It’s only natural to be tempted by comfort foods over the colder months but, to ward off winter illness and keep in shape, it’s important to make healthy food choices – comfort doesn’t need to mean unhealthy.

Healthy vegetables on a table

By choosing satisfying and nutritious food, you can stay warm, nourished and protected all winter long!

Here are nine easy tips to help you stay healthy and happy over winter. From bulk-cooking hearty meals and buying seasonal veges, to keeping your immune system strong.

Healthy eating tips for winter

1. Keep your cupboards stocked with essentials

Eating well over winter is so much easier if you have healthy ingredients on hand to make delicious and nutritious meals.

Having well-stocked cupboards will help you avoid ordering takeaways, which are expensive and not nearly as nourishing, tasty and warming as dishes made at home.

Make sure you’ve got a supply of the following, ready to add to your meals:

  • Canned chopped tomatoes – these are a great starting point for many sauces and the perfect base for warming meals like bolognaise, chilli and curry.
     
  • Canned legumes – want to make your meals go further? Canned beans, lentils, and chickpeas are precooked and ready to be added to meals. Remember to rinse them before use, to remove added salt.
     
  • Legumes are a great way to save money on your food shopping as you can reduce the amount of meat in a recipe, and top up with legumes instead. They’re good for your heart too! Our Full o’ Beans Cookbook is full of recipes featuring beans and legumes.
     
  • Wholemeal pasta and rice – a supply of pasta and rice provides an excellent base for home-cooked meals. Try switching white pasta and rice to brown – it’s healthier because it contains more fibre than white pasta or rice.
     
  • Herbs and spices – a great way to use less salt in your cooking is to pump up the flavour with herbs and spices instead. They’re better for your heart and can be used in a variety of dishes, from curries to pasta. Spices and dried herbs can be stored in the cupboard for up to 12 months – so you’ll get your money’s worth.

    If you buy fresh herbs, you can freeze them to make them last longer too. Simply chop them up and store them in an ice cube tray until you’re ready to use them.

A healthy chickpea curry for winter

Bulk out your meals with legumes like chickpeas. 

2. Be prepared with bulk-cooking

When you get home from work and you’re tired, it can be tempting to order food rather than cook from scratch.

Get rid of the takeaway temptation by bulk-cooking meals when you’re not at work, such as during the weekends. Cool and freeze what you make, then simply defrost it when you need it. This way, there’s no excuse for takeaways. Your weekday-self will thank your weekend-self for being so organised.

A home-cooked meal is always a healthier, more satisfying option, and it’ll save you money too!

Many warming winter foods can be cooked in advance and popped in the freezer –soups, casseroles, stews, sauces, Mexican dishes and more.

Try these recipes you can freeze:

3. Try a slow-cooker

During winter, a crockpot or slow-cooker will quickly become your best friend. They’re easy to use too. Simply pop your ingredients in and let them cook away. You can do it in the morning before work, and it’ll be ready and waiting for you by the time you get home.

The great thing about a slow-cooker is that they tenderise cheaper cuts of meat. Because the food is cooked for a long time, it brings out the flavour and gives a delicious result. PAKn’SAVE have 20 slow cooker recipe ideas for winter that cost less than $3.75 per person.

If you don’t own a slow cooker, keep an eye out in op-shops for a second-hand one.

A slow cooker with food inside

4. Remember your veges

The winter weather can make us crave foods like taro, cassava, bread, rice and pasta. But even in the colder months, we still need to aim to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit a day.

Buying fresh veges in winter can be expensive, especially if they’re out of season. Beat the winter vege price increase by buying frozen vegetables instead.

Packs of frozen vegetables in your freezer will last longer than fresh veges, and they’re just as nutritious!

Frozen balls of spinach

Frozen vegetables are usually cheaper and last longer.

5. Keep it seasonal

Another way to get your fruit and vege fix is to eat what’s in season, and it’s cheaper. Check out ‘what’s in season’ on the 5 a Day website to find out which fruit and veges are in season throughout the year. This great tool can help you plan affordable recipes using seasonal produce.

Want to make a seasonal winter dish? Try this tasty leek and lemon risotto recipe.

Boxes of fresh vegetables at a market

Reduce your food bill by buying seasonal fruit and vegetables.

6. Food to beat the flu

Unfortunately, cold weather can mean lots of flus, bugs and colds. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit gives you immune-boosting nutrients to protect you from illness. Vitamin E helps to keep a healthy immune system, while vitamin C helps you to fight infections.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, kiwifruit, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach.
Vitamin E can be found in spinach, broccoli and tomatoes.

Try this delicious warm broccoli salad recipe to help boost your immune system over winter. 

7. Winter warmer dinner recipes

Now you know what foods to eat over winter, it’s time to find some recipes that’ll keep you warm while making sure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Stay satisfied in the evenings with these healthy hot dinners:

  • Corned silverside fry-up - packed with veges and ready in less than half an hour.
  • Sapasui chop suey - a healthier take on chop suey with vitamin C rich ingredients like broccoli and lemon.
  • Mussel chowder – our chowder recipe will warm you up from the inside out with nutrient-rich mussels.

Healthier chop suey dish

A healthy chop suey loaded with vitamin C.

8. Start the day with a warm breakfast

The mornings can be chilly and cold. To warm up straight away, choose a hearty breakfast. It’ll set you up for the day.

  • Banana and sago recipe - use up ripe bananas to create this delicious Samoan recipe.
  • Chilli beans with eggs – how do you like your eggs? We like ours with chilli beans. You can serve this dish at any time during the day, but during winter it’s ideal for breakfast.
  • Egg and vegetable burrito – this breakfast burrito will fill you up until lunchtime and you’ll get your first serve of vegetables for the day.

9. Try warm snacks for kids

Keep little ones warm after school with some hot-but-healthy snacks. While vege sticks and sandwiches are always great options, the kids may be looking for warmer snacks and meals over winter.   

This fruit and warm custard is ready in less than 15 minutes and has a serving of fruit – what’s not to love?

 

Following these easy tips will help you and your family to stay happy and healthy through the winter months, by making sure your homes and tables are full of hearty-healthy winter foods.

Feeling inspired? Don’t forget to check out our range of heart-healthy recipes.

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