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Nutritious Lunches for Nurses on the Go

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Forgot your lunch?

It’s easy for nurses to skip nutritious lunches. But nurses need fuel. Good choices help sustain the physical and mental energy they require.

Here’s a guide to the best nutritious lunches for nurses on the go.

Nutritious Lunches for Nurses on the Go

People look to nurses for help with health and wellness. Yet, nurses tend to overlook their own bad habits.

A significant number of nurses are making poor choices when it comes to nutrition. 

Long or stressful shifts in healthcare lead to:

  • Snacking 
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Skipping meals
  • Over consuming caffeine
  • More cravings

Do these problems sound familiar? 

recent study on the effects of shift work found that experienced nurses have more tools and strategies for eating healthy. Seasoned nurses adapt. Want to know their secret?

To fuel the body for long shifts and beat bad behaviors, a nutritious lunch is paramount.

A healthy meal (mid-shift if possible) is key for continuous activity and mental acuity. 

Here’s how to plan your next nutritious lunch.

Nurse Lunch Choices: Food For Fuel

In 2020, the US Dietary Guidelines called for Americans to “make every bite count.” That means focusing on nutrient-rich foods and beverages while staying within recommended daily caloric intake. 

Nurses can make each calorie count by choosing foods to fuel the body for longer periods. One way to do that is to choose protein sources that are metabolized slower. 

Quick and easy protein sources for nutritious nurse lunches on the go include:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Trail mix with nuts
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Chicken salad and tuna salad
  • Lean chicken or turkey

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends a minimum of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day. That is about 50 grams per day for the average woman. Nurses should look to consume about 20 grams of protein at lunch.

Avoid Convenience Foods for Nurse Lunches

The term “convenience food” refers to any pre-made or prepackaged meal or snack designed for convenience. Nurses should avoid these. 

Convenience foods are usually highly processed for stability and long shelf life. So, they may be  

  • Canned
  • Frozen
  • Packed
  • Dried
  • Pasteurized 

The processes that the foods go through rob them of natural nutrition. Worse yet, preservatives and additives like salt and sugar can make these foods unhealthy. But you know. You’re a nurse, after all. So just skip them. 

When it comes to nutritious lunches, preparing your food is best. The key to good food on the go is planning. 

How to Meal Prep Nurse Lunches

I can already hear the sighs.

If only there were the time for meal prepping. But hear me out. 

The basic idea behind meal prepping is simple: prepare a meal ahead of time. The easiest way to do this is to double or triple ingredients for a meal. Then portion out the recipe in grab-and-go containers too, you know, grab-and-go LATER. 

Do you realize what this means?

Meal prepping could potentially be a time-SAVER. 

To prepare nutritious lunches for nurses on the go, plan ahead and keep it simple. 

Here are three fun, customizable recipes for nutritious grab-and-go lunches to try. 

  1. Layered Salads can be made with steak, chicken, or any other protein you like, and add a flavored topping (chili lime pistachios, yum!) for more nutrition.
  2. Easy Prep Protein Boxes are fun to make as you choose which protein sources, cheeses, fruits, veggies, and snacks you want. Try wooden skewers for a Pinterest-worthy lunch box.
  3. Greens and Grains Bowls can be Mediterranean, Asian, or Latin-inspired. Pick a grain, a green, and a protein for the base, then add any veggies, nuts, or toppings you like. 

In Conclusion

See how simple it can be to make a nutritious lunch ahead of time, then grab and go. 

What recipe are you most excited to try. Or what is your go-to easy meal prep? 

Let us know.

If you enjoyed your break today, subscribe to our blog for more like this, and don’t forget to like and follow on social media.

Sarah Falcone BSN, RN

Sarah Falcone BSN, RN


Sarah S. Falcone BSN, RN is a dedicated nurse based in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. Her first nursing gig, was night-shift floor nurse in women's services (PP, L&D, nursery). Through a series of fortunate events, she found home health and a passion for helping seniors age in place. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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