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Meal Prep Tips for Nurses

11.17.20

Today we’re chatting all about meal prep for nurses. Specifically nurses who work 12 hours shifts. Whether you work day or night shift, meal prepping can help you have exactly what you need to keep you from hitting the vending machine in the middle of your shift. It can also prevent you from heading straight to the drive through on your way home from work or binging everything you have in your fridge and pantry.

We all know that working as a nurse requires both a ton of physical and mental energy. It’s important to eat nutritious meals at work and healthy snacks to help keep stress levels down and energy levels up. 

Let’s get into my meal prep tips and some of my favorite snacks to pack for work! 

Before you start meal prepping, it’s important to invest in the right equipment and tools for meal prep. Basic kitchen tools and time saving appliances to make process more efficient include: knives, spoons, mixing bowls, food storage containers, mason jars, freezer bags, aluminum foil, food processor, baking sheets, skillet, saucepan, crockpot, air fryer.

Make sure you have some good food storage containers and a lunch box that’s big enough to bring all of your food to work in. I make sure that I use a lunch bag that can fit my breakfast, morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack all in.

To make life easier I recommend prepping the same meals for your workdays. I know it’s boring to eat the same things for 2-3 days in a row but prepping the same things really saves a lot of time. If you find a recipe you really enjoy then it’s not so boring! If you are looking for more of a variety in your meals on your workdays, then find meals that have overlapping ingredients so that you are preparing some of the same things, and not spending hours in the kitchen. Some of the biggest inspiration for my meals come from Pinterest. 

– Before you head to the grocery store, make a list of what you plan on preparing for your workdays and the ingredients that will be required.

– Then it’s time to grab your list and head to the grocery store! Before you head out though- check your freezer and pantry to see what you already have on hand so you don’t end up spending money on unnecessary items at the store.

Break your meal prep into 2 sessions- If I have a weekend off from work I break my meal prep up so that I don’t have to take a huge chunk of time doing it when I can be enjoying my time off from work. For example- Saturday cook your protein and veggies and Sunday prepare your breakfasts and set aside all of your snacks. 

Bring snacks to work that are easy to grab: nut butter packets, protein bars (Perfect Bars, One Bars, Go Macro Bars, RX Bars, Rise Bars), fruit, veggies, trail mix,  yogurt, cottage cheese, protein shakes (Orgain is my favorite), guacamole and hummus packets, apple slices, turkey “roll ups” made with Laughing Cow cheese.

– I always make sure my lunch bag is packed and ready to go the night before work so that I’m not scrambling in the morning

Have a filling breakfast before work. We all know how crazy work can be in the morning and never know what time we will get a break to sit down and have breakfast. Be sure to eat a filling breakfast at home before leaving for work. One of my favorite breakfasts to meal prep for work that always fills me up and gives me energy to start my work day is overnight oats. You may not be eating for hours once you get to work, and oatmeal provides a nutritious and filling way to start your day. Check out my go- to overnight oats recipe here. Trader Joe’s also has overnight oats in individual to- go containers if you don’t have time to meal prep them yourself (located in the dairy section). 

– Utilize the crockpot for meal prep! Make your favorite chili or soup recipe. Those meals can go far! One crockpot recipe can account for 3 lunches at work plus you can freeze the rest and even have it the following week. I make my turkey and sweet potato chili recipe all the time and have it throughout the week at work.

– Have dinner waiting for you in the fridge for when you get home. By having it prepared and ready in a container, you’re setting yourself up for success. Instead of coming home and binging on everything in sight because you’re so tired and hungry after working 13+ hours, you’re more likely to eat what’s already prepared.

Lunch Ideas For Work:

  1. Bowls-
    • Choose a base (brown rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa)
    • Add a protein (ground turkey, chicken, tofu, lentils, chickpeas)
    • Add veggies (tomatoes, spinach, onions, broccoli, sweet potatoes)
    • Healthy fats (feta, goat cheese, avocado, hummus)
    • My favorite type of bowl is my burrito bowl made with brown rice, onions, tomatoes, black beans, ground turkey, salsa, guacamole, and sriracha. Mhmm!
  2. Salads-  pick your favorite greens (spinach, romaine, kale, mixed greens), a protein (chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna), a carb (quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, fruit), a healthy fats (avocado, hummus, cheese, nuts/ seeds), and a dressing.
  3. Whole wheat or chickpea pasta-  Pasta is great to meal prep! I usually mix mine with some ground turkey or chicken, Brussel sprouts, and pasta sauce.
  4. Smoothies- Smoothies help fill you up and provide long-lasting energy. You might want to skip adding juice so that you don’t have a big sugar crash. This is a great portable lunch or snack that you can have at any time of the shift. Check out my Berry Power Protein Smoothie recipe here.
  5. Some of my favorite recipes from my blog that I meal prep for work for meals and snacks include:

Chia Seed Pudding