As a nurse, I KNOW the struggle of trying to eat heathy, trying to eat on a budget, and trying to eat convenient meals! I also know the struggle of trying to eat, PERIOD! We all know how that “lunch buddy” system goes. You watch your buddy’s patient while they go eat and vice versa. The best advice I can give is to round on all of your patients before running to lunch (if you can) and try to hit everyones needs before going! That way you reduce the chance of someone calling! NOTICE I SAID REDUCE, not prevent ;). But back to why I am writing.
One of the hardest things for me as a nurse is getting enough sleep! I don’t have the time (or motivation) to come home and pack a nice healthy lunch for the next day! I drop my scrubs, shower, and go to bed only to do it all over again! I try my best to prepare dinner in advance and cluster tasks on the days that I’m supposed to work! Let’s be real, 24 hours in a day, 12 plus hours at work…you do the math of how much we work in a day VS sleeping! Mad props to all the moms out there working 12 hours shifts. YOU GUYS are my heroes! I have been determined to save money, eat healthier, and eat conveniently this year! Let me share some of my tricks!
Yah ya heardddd me! Frozen meals. A lot of people hear frozen meals and thinks “GA-ross!” Your mind runs back to being a kid eating Kids Cuisine with the rock hard brownie, crusty pudding, and nasty fish sticks! Yah. Those are the BAD Frozen meals! So are Marie Calendars, Hormel, and Stoffers! They may taste good, but they are full of saturated fats and lots of sodium. Not a ton of nutrients either! My FAVORITE brands of frozen meals are KASHI and Amy’s Organic Meals. They are all natural ingredients and not filled with all the GMOs, chemicals, and hydrogenated oils that many meals are! Those things are bad for you and leave you feeling tired and unsatisfied. The meals I’m talking about are made with whole grains, antibiotic free meats, and lots of veggies! They have natural ingredients, good flavor, low in fat and sodium, and leave you full and energized! And GUESS WHAT!?!? They’re like 3$ at Kroger and even cheaper at Walmart! I haven’t had a recipe I didn’t like of the KASHI, and I love Amy’s burritos! You can’t go wrong with these. I normally spend 8$ for LUNCH (minimum) if I get the salad bar at work. That totally adds up. These are just as good and healthy! AND super convenient! I throw it in my KAVU ( See ” My Favorite Nursey Things” blog) in the morning, and I’m off! No mess. Warm up in break room! Totally worth it! BAM!
-So I always refill my giant Smart Water bottle. Because it makes me smarter, duh!? Just kidding. I should probably invest in a nice water bottle, but I love the size of the big Smart Water Bottle. I go through two bottles full of these a day. Cheap, easy, and conveniently hidden in my secret compartment where I chart! ( Shhhh don’t tell!)
-If I’m going to splurge on a beverage that isn’t water, I LOVE La Croix!!! Have you ever heard of it??? It’s carbonated, flavored water. It goes down like a soda with bubbles, but no sugar or artificial flavoring! Just natural fruit flavoring. NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS!!! I kinda have an addiction, but I’ve been trying to drink more water because it’s cheaper! La Croix was my saving grace when I quit drinking soda years ago! You have to give it a try and be open minded! It’s not sweet at all, but kinda kicks the craving of a soda once you get used to it! My favorite flavors are Coconut and Lime!
-COFFFFFEEEE! If you’ve been following me, you know I am addicted to coffee! But guess what. BLACK COFFEE!!! I know, I know….you’re probably thinking, “that’s absolutely disgusting.”Well let me tell you. When you gain 10lbs working at Starbucks in college and it was all from those fancy drinks they have, you MAKE yourself like it! It got to the point where I left work feeling like a Mocha Frappaccino! It totally had to grow on me! GOOD coffee is GOOD black. I’m convinced if you pay the extra money to get a nice bag of brew, (Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Dunkin Donuts….etc) it’s smooth and yummy going down! To start, I would pair it with a sweeter breakfast food! Black coffee is delicious with sweet pastries, but those can be not so good for you! Pairing it with a sweet granola bar is a good alternative! Not only do I love how black coffee wakes me up, but I love the taste of black coffee! (Fun fact, the original owners of Starbucks parted ways at the very beginning. It was Seattle’s Best before Starbucks, so recipes are VERY similar and Seattle’s best is cheaper!! Interesting, huh? ;)) Brewing black coffee and bringing it to work is cheap, not super inconvenient seeing it’s just black, and healthier! Black coffee is not bad for you in moderation. No calories and it has awesome antioxidants! Just don’t get too jittery!
So these aren’t super cheap. I’ll go ahead and say it. But they are so worth it to me! Dr. Williams Daily Advantage vitamin packs and Zembrin! The Daily Advantage has 60 prepackaged vitamins that are everything you need in one pack! Fish oil, your basic A, E, C, D, and B’s, and some greens/phyto nutrients! I know I’m not lacking anymore and I truly do feel more energized! I actually missed 2 days from traveling and I swear I felt a difference. I was never a vitamin person, but I started taking them when tapering off my SSRI a year and a half ago. If you sign up for his emails, you get a lot of 20-40% off coupons. It’s 55$ a box, but lasts 2 months. I only take one pack a day. If you see how much GOOD quality vitamins are, this is worth it! Especially with the discounts. Zembrin is also a product of Dr. Williams. It’s a natural mood enhancer. I’ve been taking it since tapering off my Lexapro. I definitely have seen a difference in it helping, as I had tried tapering before without a “plan” and had terrible rebound anxiety and depression. Zembrin is subtle, but I think it has helped me with mind clarity! With Lexapro, I have terrible short term memory! I’ll be in the shower and washing my hair, and can’t remember if I already shampooed or not! So terrible! The Zembrin has really helped me to have a clearer mind and better focus! It also has helped my mood and has an appetite suppressing side effect. Not a bad “side effect” if you ask me! 😉 It’s about 30$ a bottle, but again….coupons available! I conveniently grab a pre-packaged pack of vitamins, keep a bottle of Zembrin in my bag, and I’m off!
-Snacking at work is necessary, seeing that somedays, we don’t eat! Yup! That’s right. DID YOU HEAR THAT WORLD??? SOME DAYS NURSES DONT EAT!!! So when you see me sipping on high sodium chicken broth and a pocket overflowing with saltine wrappers, don’t talk to me! I’m probably hungry and consumed! Just kidding;)….kinda! I actually keep a can of grocery store brand raw almonds in my bag! Or again, in my “secret compartment!” Grabbing a handful and eating totally curbs my hunger for the time being. It’s about 7$ a tin, but healthy, convenient, and worth it! Almonds are good for your heart and brain, in moderation! They are my favorite go-to snack! Also easy to share if you see a hangry co-worker. I know, I’m such a “nut.” 😉
When it comes to breakfast, I have a go-to. I don’t eat breakfast a lot. I know….that’s terrible. I’m just never hungry in the morning! I keep KIND bars in my car!!! To just grab on my way in! I was forgetting to grab it out of my kitchen when I ran out in the morning, so now I just keep them in my car for convenience. It also does my husband a favor when I’m hangry on the road! KIND bars are raw granola bars, with very minimal ingredients! They are pre-packaged, packed with nuts, dried fruits, and healthy grains! No added sugars, and just really good! (especially with black coffee!) They are convenient, decently priced (if you look around for deals), filling, and healthy! They also have some dark chocolate options as well. Just a yummy, healthy alternative for a meal on the go!
So there you have it. From the nurse trying to save some money (pay off student loan debt), eat conveniently, and eat healthy, here is my two cents! I love being a nurse, but I know we’re definitely not $ugarmama and $ugardaddy status! We have to budget! We need to eat healthy. And we NEEEEEED to eat conveniently! Even running down to the cafeteria is a pain when you’re pressed on time for lunch! Try these tricks! I totally think you can get used to it and all of those little add ups on your bank statement from the snack shop and cafeteria at work will be disappearing! It’s hard to be disciplined. Disciplined with money and with eating healthy! It’s not fun, but it’s rewarding! I think ultimately it will make us happier people! Taking care of our bodies, our time, and our budgets is worth it! Your heart is Mine!