Being organised and meal planning and prepping ahead of time are key factors when it comes to balancing healthy eating and shift work. I have found a few easy meals that work for me, and they are my staples in the workplace.
I like to dedicate some time during my days off to batch cook, and freeze individual portions of whatever hot meal I have cooked. This means that I am simply able to take it out of the freezer the night before, let it defrost and heat it up when I get home from work! By having meals ready made in the fridge before, during and after work, I find that I am less likely to pick up take away food on the way home, saving me money and ensuring that I have a healthy meal full of nutrients ready and waiting!
To start my day, I always have a large glass of warm water (about 500ml) with
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ tsp 180 Nutrition L-Glutamine (get it here – http://shop.180nutrition.com.au/180-nutrition-pure-l-glutamine-powder)
I used to suffer from severe headaches almost daily, most likely due to dehydration – and since adding this to my repertoire I have found that I hardly ever get these headaches anymore!
Then I try and go for my 45 minute walk. If I’ve hit snooze and woken up too late to fit my walk in before work (which happens more than I care to admit), I just try and wait 30 minutes after drinking the above before having my smoothie and coffee.
Following this, breakfast is always my Green Smoothie concoction, which I try and drink before I head out the door but if I’m really running late I will drink in the car.
1. Green Smoothie Recipe
Handful baby spinach
Handful chopped kale
Frozen mixed berries
1 scoop 180 nutrition coconut protein powder
2 tablespoons wholemeal oats
Water (the amount depends on how thick you like your smoothie, for a thinner consistency add more water, for thicker add less!)
Mix in blender until smooth!
For Morning Tea I like to have carrot and celery sticks with home-made hummus, some homemade banana bread or a piece of fruit.
2. Hummus Recipe
1 x 400g can chickpeas
1 x garlic clove (crushed)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
Drain the can of chickpeas, put all the ingredients in a blender (I use my nutribullet) and blend until you achieve the desired consistency.
Lunch is usually a tuna salad, as pictured at the beginning of the post. I make them before my run of shifts and just add in the tuna and olive oil at lunchtime!
3. My Go To Tuna Salad Recipe
Perino tomatoes (halved)
Handful of Coles ‘Kaleslaw’
Adjust the ingredients depending on how large you want your serve of salad. Add in a tin of tuna in olive oil just before you are about to eat, shake the container to mix the ingredients and you’re done! This meal is easy to prepare and full of nutrients, and the olive oil and tuna will help to keep you full throughout the afternoon.
On work days, my dinner is usually a meal that I have pre prepared and frozen. I take it out of the freezer the night before work, and heat it up in the oven or in a frypan when I get home. Additionally, I try and have a healthy snack on hand for the drive home, usually I’ll boil and peel some eggs before my run of shifts and bring them with me as an extra snack. I focus on fuelling my body with nourishing wholefoods that are easy to prepare and serve. Here is a recipe I created that is simple and tasty, perfect for a pre or post work dinner or workday lunch!
4. Mexican Chilli Chicken Recipe
1 sweet potato (diced)
Organic hormone free chicken breast (trimmed and diced)
1 cup stock/bone broth of your choice
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 500g tin kidney beans
Pink himalayan salt
½ fresh chilli
Coconut oil (1 tablespoon)
Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan. Add in the sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove once slightly browned and place to one side. Place the chicken into the saucepan, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Add in the sweet potato, stock, tomatoes, celery, salt, pepper, cumin, chilli powder and fresh chilli. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until sweet potato and chicken cooked through. Add in the kidney beans and kale and stir through, keeping on heat for a further 5-10 minutes. Divide up individual portions into plastic containers and place in fridge/freezer as needed!
5. Hannah’s Nourishing Zucchini and Leek Soup Recipe
Hannah is one of my best friends, and a fellow nurse. Her and I used to live together in Adelaide, and she would always make a batch of this soup for us to take to work! It’s easy to prepare and store, and the perfect antidote to a long shift in the sub-arctic air conditioned climate of the Hospital.
‘This is my favourite healthy soup recipe to make for a busy week of work. It’s so easy to make, keeps wonderfully in the fridge for about a week and freezes well too! This makes a large batch, probably enough for about 6-8 serves but you can easily play around with the amounts of vegetables and water to suit your needs. What I also love about this recipe is how easy it is to modify the ingredients depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge already. You can easily add in some spring onion, a few beans or a handful of spinach to supercharge your nutrients!’ – Hannah
2 Sticks celery
2 Large zucchini
1 Large potato
2 Crushed cloves garlic
1 Head of broccoli
4 Cups water
3 Chicken stock cubes
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ Cup cream
Trim leeks, wash thoroughly. Slice celery, leeks, and zucchini, cucumber and broccoli. Peel and slice carrot and potato. Heat butter in a large saucepan, add vegetables and crushed garlic – stir to coat vegetables in butter. Cover pan, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes and stir occasionally. Be careful not to brown the vegetables. Add water, crumbled stock cubes, pepper and salt; mix well. Bring to boil and reduce heat, then simmer vegetables for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley. Puree vegetables and liquid in electric blender (alternatively I use a stick blender which works just as good); blend on medium speed. Return soup to saucepan, add cream and reheat without boiling.
Play around with recipes, and work out what you like to cook and eat! It’s a skill that takes practice, but is so important to have. Not only will you be able to control what goes into your food, but you will save money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing food at work. Take the time to plan and prepare your meals ahead of your shifts, you will be surprised at the difference in your energy levels and the way you feel!
Some of my favourite healthy recipe resources
https://sophieguidolin.com.au/recipes – the banana bread recipe in her Eat Clean, Live Lean cookbook is my favourite!
Please let me know if you have made and enjoyed any of these suggestions! Next week I will post about the dreaded nightshift and my tips for making it through!
Thank you for reading.