Nurse’s Survival Guide: Mastering Unexpectedly Long Shifts with Deliciously Prepared Lunches

For nurses, long shifts are a common occurrence. The unpredictability of the healthcare environment often means that nurses have to stay on duty for extended periods, sometimes without any prior notice. This can be physically and mentally draining, and having a nutritious, delicious meal to look forward to can make a world of difference. Preparing and packing a spare lunch for those unexpectedly long shifts not only helps to maintain energy levels but also provides a much-needed break from the monotony of hospital food. Here’s a survival guide to mastering those long shifts with some deliciously prepared lunches.

Planning and Preparation

Planning your meals in advance is key to ensuring you have a nutritious and tasty lunch ready for those long shifts. Consider preparing your meals for the week on your day off and storing them in the fridge or freezer. This way, you can simply grab a meal before heading to work, saving you time and stress in the morning.

Choosing the Right Foods

When choosing what to include in your meals, focus on foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates. These will provide you with sustained energy throughout your shift. Foods like lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, whole grains, and vegetables are all excellent choices. Avoid foods high in sugar and processed foods as they can lead to energy crashes.

Meal Ideas

  • Chicken or turkey wrap with whole grain tortilla, filled with plenty of vegetables and a healthy sauce like hummus or avocado.
  • Quinoa salad with grilled vegetables and a protein of your choice. You can prepare a large batch and portion it out for several meals.
  • Homemade soup or stew. These can be made in large quantities and frozen in individual portions. They are easy to reheat and can be very comforting during a long shift.

Staying Hydrated

Don’t forget about hydration. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased concentration. Carry a water bottle with you and aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout your shift. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine as they can lead to dehydration.


Having healthy snacks on hand can also be a lifesaver during long shifts. Nuts, seeds, fruit, yogurt, and protein bars are all good options. They can provide a quick energy boost and help curb hunger between meals.

In conclusion, preparing for unexpectedly long shifts as a nurse can be made easier with a little planning and the right food choices. Not only will you have a delicious meal to look forward to, but you’ll also be providing your body with the nutrients it needs to stay energized and focused.