7 Healthy Weekly Meal Planning Tips for Travel Nurses
By Cynthia Iñe, MS, FNP-C, Contributor
For many nurses, eating healthy often feels like a chore. However, there are many easy meal planning tips for travel nurses.
Lack of healthy meal planning places nurses at risk for obesity, among other conditions. Learn how you can make healthy weekly meal planning a part of your travel nurse lifestyle.
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7 Healthy Weekly Meal Planning Tips and Tricks for Travel Nurses
1. Start Planning Early
The first step to eating healthy as a travel nurse is planning your meals. Take time each week to sit down and write what you would like to eat for each meal during the week.
Easy meal planning saves time, saves money, and helps prevent unplanned binges of junk food. There are meal planning apps and calendars travel nurses can use to help plan their meals for the week.
2. Grocery Shopping
After you have prepared the list of meals you would like to eat during the week, a grocery shopping app comes in handy to organize the necessary ingredients you will need. Upload the desired ingredients to a mobile app to prevent repeat trips to the grocery store.
Apps can help you sort ingredients by recipe, store to purchase, and money saving coupons. Some helpful apps include:
3. Meal Preparation
Meal preparation is key to healthy weekly meal planning. Meal preparation involves preparing food and packing it into individual containers for storage. When meals are readily available and in appropriate portions, it makes it easier to choose to eat healthy versus buying junk food.
With food prepared, travel nurses can just grab their meal and go.
4. Pack Meals
Easy meal planning might be difficult for the travel nurses when they find themselves in new cities and new facilities. Therefore, it is important to pack meals to take during the shift.
Many nurses will find it beneficial to pack a healthy lunch and take it to work. Some nurses even pack dinner if they are doing a 12-hour shift and want to avoid eating dinner too late.
5. Stock up on Snacks
Consider the snacks that you will eat as part of healthy weekly meal planning. Having a quick snack between meals is normal. However, it becomes harmful when the snack choices are not healthy.
Instead of going to the vending machines or buying sugary or salty desserts from the hospital cafeteria, plan your snacks in advance. For example, the Centers for Disease Control recommends the following snacks:
- Fruits (apples, oranges, bananas)
- Chopped vegetables (celery, carrots, cucumbers)
- Whole grain crackers and breads
- Almonds, nuts, and seeds
6. Drink Water
Sometimes it is not easy to get an adequate intake of water when you are busy during a shift. For the travel nurse that finds it difficult to increase water intake during the day, the use of a large water bottle or tumbler is helpful.
Another helpful way to increase water intake is to prepare infused water. Healthy weekly meal planning should include preparation of slices of lemon, cucumber, grapefruit, or your fruit of choice to add to your water.
7. Eating Out
Travel nurses won’t eat only home-prepared meals. For the times when the nurse must dine at work or goes out to eat, there are healthy eating options to follow. The American Heart Association provides plenty of resources on finding restaurants that provide “dietician-approved” menu items, learning to decipher a menu, and ordering a healthy meal.
These tips are not one size fits all. However, they are a good way to begin healthy meal planning. Tailor these suggestions to your dietary preferences, lifestyle, and schedule in order to have easy meal planning and a healthier diet.