Meal planning tips and tricks for nurses—part 2
You didn’t think we’d leave ya hangin’ with just part 1, did ya?
Below, more meal planning wisdom from Kati Kleber (aka chef Nurse Eye Roll) and a handful of easy-to-make, fridge-friendly recipes that ought to taste just as delicious tomorrow as they will tonight.
Being a nurse working shift work, it can be tough making sure you eat appropriately. A few years ago, my husband, John, and I got into a pretty regular routine to offset the nutritional challenges that shift work presents.
This is my second post regarding this topic. Please click here to read the first post explaining some of my keys to meal planning success.
I’m going to outline our weekly routine in addition to a sample menu.
Here we go!
Most Saturdays (or Sundays), John and I sit down and plan a week of meals. We then make our grocery store list and head over to stock up. I like to do this together because it’s more time spent with one another, and we both know what we have and what we need.
To give you some background on our choices, we are meat eaters. John likes to eat low-carb, so whenever we have rice, I typically only eat the rice myself or make him quinoa. Our go-to proteins are chicken and ground beef. I buy chicken and ground beef in bulk and freeze it. John doesn’t like pork and I don’t really know how to prepare it, so we never buy pork. We rotate in an additional protein option (chicken sausage, tilapia, etc.) to break things up.
We look at our work schedules to see who will be home when, and then whoever gets home first that day typically makes dinner. I make dinner approximately three days per week, John does it three days, and we either go out or make a meal together. We write down our dinner list for the week along with who will be preparing it, and put it on the fridge.
Here is one of our meal plans for the week. All of the following dishes are linked to the actual recipes on various sites. I try to use natural or organic ingredients when possible (e.g., for the ketchup in the meatloaf, we use organic).
Sunday: Meatloaf, roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted green beans. This is the meal that requires the most prep and longest cooking time, therefore I usually schedule this for a day when I know I’ll have adequate time.
Monday: Honey-baked chicken. I use 2 teaspoons curry powder, 5 tablespoons melted butter and 2/3 cup honey. I make brown rice (just follow directions on bag; I make 1 cup for the two of us and have leftovers) and sautéed peppers.
Tuesday: Chicken tortilla soup (Crock-Pot meal!). I chop up fresh tomatoes instead of using canned because the BPA (from the canned diced tomatoes that the recipe calls for) leaches out from the can into the food, and because tomatoes are highly acidic, it’s worse than with other canned items. Depending on the size, I’ll get five or six smaller tomatoes and add a cup or two of water. I add more liquid to make it into more of a soup, but you could use less and put it over rice.
Wednesday: Mexican Pile-Ups. This one is super easy. Just make some ground beef with taco seasoning, cook some rice, get some Fritos (or some other crunchy yummy chip) and grab your favorite taco toppings. I put rice on my plate, top with ground beef, lettuce, tomato (or salsa!), avocado, sour cream and cheese, and put chips on top. DELICIOUS. Easy to prepare (basically just making meat and rice) and everyone can customize their own dish.
Thursday: Tilapia fish tacos. Really, it’s just sautéing some tilapia and using a fork to break it up and putting your fave taco stuff on top…or you can make the awesome slaw in this recipe! Super easy. I watch the sales at the store and try to get some wild-caught tilapia for a good price.
Friday: Chicken, cheese, broccoli and rice casserole. I tried doing the one-pan thing, but the rice didn’t turn out so great. So now I just make the rice separately and add it in, and it tastes much better.
I like to take leftovers to work for lunch, so when cleaning up, I just throw the leftovers into my glass Pyrex lunch containers.
If I know both of us will be busy the next day and I’m able to do some meal prep the night or morning before, I make sure to do so.
I really enjoy trying new recipes, so if on Saturday I see that I have some more time, I’ll check Pinterest for a new recipe to try. I make sure to put any additional ingredients I’ll need to purchase on my grocery list.
I’m not a super-experienced cook by any means, so whenever I’m looking at Pinterest to find something new, I’m typically looking for simple meals that require few ingredients. Here is a link to my Pinterest NOMS board for other things I enjoy making and some that are on my to-try list!
What are some of your go-to dinner recipes? What tips and tricks do you have for people who hate to cook or just don’t have the time?
To read more, visit NurseEyeRoll.com.
Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Take Care of Your Patients and Yourself talks about how to realistically live as a nurse, both at home and at the bedside…with a little humor and some shenanigans along the way. Get ready: It’s about to get real, real nursey. You can get your own copy at NurseEyeRoll.com, Amazon or Goodreads (ebook).
Kati Kleber BSN, RN CCRN is a a nationally certified critical care nurse located in Charlotte, NC. She is the Nurse Advisor and Editorial Director of the #ProtectNurses initiative, and will be guiding the content we curate, create, and share back with you. Kleber, aka Nurse Eyeroll, is a popular blogger, the voice behind the wildly successful #ProTips series, and a frequent speaker on nursing leadership. You can buy her book "Becoming Nursey" at nurseeyeroll.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. She also has two more books in the works, which will be published by the American Nurses Association and on shelves Feb. 2016!
By Kati Kleber BSN, RN