Meal Planning 101 for Nurses
It’s no secret that the fast-paced, long hours lifestyle of nursing forces many nurses to survive long shifts by drinking loads of caffeine and eating unhealthy, fast food options. Believe it or not, there is a way around this common unhealthy lifestyle. Some planning and prepping on your part can guarantee you the healthy, balanced diet you know you should have.
Here are some tips and tricks on meal planning for nurses.
What you should be eating.
As a nurse, you’re probably thinking that the last thing you need is a reminder on what to be eating. Nonetheless, we think a few reminders never hurt anyone. Alliant Healthcare Staffing says your meals should be characterized by the following:
- Low-fat proteins such as chicken, turkey, or fish
- Lots of vegetables
- One serving of fruit
- Whole grains
- One serving of dairy1
Keep this in mind when writing out your grocery list and planning your meals (something we’ll cover below).
Planning ahead is key.
The first thing to remember when meal planning is to plan ahead. Your nursing career keeps you busy, and planning ahead can save you a lot of stress. Planning helps you make sure you have all the ingredients you need, and it can also save you money. Rozette from Nurse Labs says “you can find a lot of inspirations online. Aside from recipes, there are also creative meal planning templates you can download and use to plan for the whole week. Writing down every detail can help you remember and stick with your plan better.”2
Try using this free printable meal planning worksheet to assist you in planning.
Buy in bulk whenever possible.
One of the great things about buying in bulk is that you will have to make less trips to the grocery store. Many non-perishables and freezer items are great to buy in bulk. This type of shopping can also save you money in the long run.
Nurse Eye Roll tells us “we buy meat from Costco (enough for about 2 weeks at a time), separate it into single-meal Ziplocks and freeze it. When I see that tomorrow ground beef is the protein for the meal, I move the frozen meat package from the freezer to the fridge the day/night before to allow it time to defrost.”3
Try to prepare things ahead of time.
One of the great things about meal planning is that you can have everything ready ahead of time. This means once you have everything planned and bought, you can divide it into containers so you can grab them on your way out the door.
We suggest dedicating one day a week where you prep all of your food. Cut all of your fresh veggies, divide up your meats and pack your healthy snacks in containers.
Easy meal planning recipes.
Here are a few websites to visit if you’re looking for recipes to meal plan. Another great place to look for recipes is Pinterest!
- No-Cook Meal Prep for the 1,200-1,500 Calorie Level
- Whole30 Meal Plan Roundup
- Healthy Weekly Meal Plan
- 100 Days of Meal Plans – Whole Foods Style
- 60 Healthy Meatless Meals
Meal planning is a great way to alleviate some stress in your life, as well as a great way to eat healthier.
What types of foods do you include in your meal plan? Tell us in the comments below!