6 Quick and Healthy Night Shift Breakfast Meal Ideas


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Are you looking for night shift breakfast meal ideas which require minimal to no prep time, are super delicious yet healthy and will sustain your appetite until the late afternoon?

We know the feeling of standing in the kitchen once you get home from a graveyard shift, simply wandering around deliriously unable to make a decision about how to fill the belly.

Avocado on toast with egg and spinach on grey plate

Making consistently good, healthy food decisions after working 8-12+ hours can be a real challenge. We want to help save time and eliminate the guessing that goes into choosing a healthy meal before you ‘hit the hay’ after night shift by giving you 6 delicious recipes made ready in under 5 minutes!

1. Healthy Deluxe Oats

 This recipe is my go-to. Why? It’s quick, warm, healthy and super filling.

Why are oats a great post-night shift meal?

Oats are regarded as one of the healthiest breakfasts going around. They are gluten-free, are a great source of fiber and an excellent way to obtain B vitamins, iron and magnesium.

The American Heart Association can’t get enough of them either, considering oatmeal to be a “certified heart-healthy food.”

But as far as night shift workers are concerned, oats are naturally high in melatonin, our sleep hormone, helping to put us to sleep. (source)

Oats | Healthy post night shift breakfast meal ideas

How do I prepare the oats?

I alternate between two different methods for preparation. The main difference is option one uses an egg and option two uses milk/water.

Option one:

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of rolled oats 
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Medjool dates – cubed or a tablespoon of honey
  • 1 mashed banana
  • A large dollop of no-fat yogurt/greek yogurt
  • Mixed frozen berries (or fresh but I like the sauce frozen berries create after being heated)
  • Optional: Slithered almonds, a natural sweetener like the delicious  Powdered SweetenerOpens in a new tab. and cinnamon.

Method:

Step 1: Mix oats, egg, dates, and banana in a regular, microwave-safe bowl

Step 2: Place in microwave for 2 minutes. Some say 90 seconds but I like a little more.

Step 3: Heat x1 cup of mixed frozen berries in the microwave (I heat these up in a coffee mug but watch because it can spurt out)  

Step 4: Pour warm berries and sauce on top of oats mixture

Step 5: Place a large dollop of no-fat yogurt on top (Make sure you check the label for hidden sugars! We get ours from Aldi but I know Walmart has no-fat options too)

Step 6 (optional): Add slithered almonds on top for some crunch and/or honey. Sometimes I even use walnuts or whole almonds crushed, it just depends on what I have in the pantry.

Option two:

Method:

Step 1: Mix 2/3 cup of rolled oats and water or milk (enough to cover the oats) in a microwave dish and heat for 2 minutes. Watch as it can overflow.

Step 2 -5: Same as above 

Step 6: Cut a fresh, ripe banana and or berries of your choice heated or fresh on top 

This recipe was modified from Weight Watchers.

Note:

You could also substitute the rolled oats for unsweetened muesli or Bircher muesli prepared in advance.

Secondly, I mention this method because hot milk is thought to help us sleep. The Huffington Post suggests that milk contains two substances known to be related to sleep and relaxation: the hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan.

But drinking hot milk may also have psychological effects and bring back some relaxing childhood memories of being served hot milk by your parents. It works a treat for me!

We talk a lot more about foods which help you sleep after a night shift in a post we wrote titled, What Should I Eat After Working Night Shift? I was surprised at some of the foods on the list and I’m sure you will be too.

Related posts about shift work meals:

2. Low-Fat Pancakes

Pancakes, in my eyes, are a fancy breakfast indulgence because they generally take time. Multiple pots, pans and various items of silverware, make pancakes a real treat and suitable only for those with time and patience – not night shift workers…

But not this time! Mum introduced me to this recipe making it a staple, post night shift delight.

Super simple, quick and so tasty! 

Why are these low-fat pancakes a great post night shift meal?

If you like something hot and filling before bed this meal will stop hunger pains waking you up in the middle of the day.

If you want a real snoozy kick, warm-up cherry tart juice and pour on top then cut up some pistachio nuts and sprinkle those on top too. Both these foods are ridiculously high in melatonin and can help put you to sleep.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of self-raising flour
  • 1 egg (whisk)
  • 2 Medjool dates chopped 
  • 1 mashed banana 
  • No-fat yogurt
  • Mixed frozen berries
  • Optional: Natvia (sweetener) or honey  

Method:

Step 1: Mix flour, egg, dates, and banana together in a bowl

Step 2: Lightly spray a medium non-stick frying pan with oil and cook over medium heat. Evenly divide the mixture into three parts, spreading out the mixture with the back of a spoon until 1cm thick.

Step 3: Cook for 1-2 minutes. Heat up berries in microwave/saucepan and pour over pancakes with a dollop of non-fat yogurt, sprinkled with a natural sweetener. YUM!

This recipe was found on Weight Watchers but was slightly adapted. 

3. Easy Eggs

If oats or pancakes are not exciting your taste buds, eggs are sure to satisfy!

They not only taste delicious but also reduce your risk of heart disease, protect your skin and eyes from UV damage and improve liver and brain function. 

Plus, the protein content keeps you full so you don’t wake with a rumbling stomach! 

Eggs also contain high levels of melatonin, our major sleep hormone which can contribute to a better sleep once you hit the hay!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (or only 1 if you’re not hungry)
  • 1 English muffin or x1 slice of multi-grain bread
  • Handful of spinach
  • Half avocado 
  • Optional (if you’re feeling energetic) – Vegemite, mushrooms, tomato, salmon, cottage/ricotta cheese, or baked beans 

Method:

Step 1: Poach x2 eggs to your liking (tip: add vinegar to the water to help the egg form)

Step 2: Toast muffin/bread. While that’s cooking with the spinach. Either in the microwave with salt, pepper and nutmeg covered for 2 minutes or on the stove with lemon juice. 

Step 3: Add salt and pepper plus any of the optional extras listed above for some extra flavor and enjoy!

Can’t be bothered option – x1 (or x2) egg poached or scambled in the microwave on one slice of toast with whatever you can find in the fridge – avocado, salmon, mushroom, hot sauce and salt and pepper.

Eggs and avocado | Healthy post night shift breakfast meal ideas

4. Healthy Breakfast Smoothie

Can’t be bothered to chew and would prefer a liquid breakfast? Yep, we know all your night shift struggles…

Smoothies are a great way to consume more nutrients and vitamins than you normally would – especially when working nights as we tend to miss a few.

There are SO many different varieties of smoothies it’s impossible to cover them all here. But below is my personal favorite recipe after a night shift.

Ingredients: 

  • Milk (your choice – almond, soy, rice and cows etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 3 Ice cubs
  • A small handful of oats
  • Tablespoon of honey
  • Handful of blueberries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Small handful of almonds
  • Optional: Protein powder (if drinking during the day) or substitute the honey for dates

Method:

Only 1 Step: Mix all the ingredients together in a blender, like our favorite Hamilton one from Amazon.com and enjoy!

You could invest in a fancy blender like the Ninja BlenderOpens in a new tab. or the NutriBulletOpens in a new tab. but we think the 
Hamilton Single Serve BlenderOpens in a new tab. does the trick just fine!

Smoothie | Healthy post night shift breakfast meal ideas

Just on a side note, we do need to be careful when juicing anything for two reasons.

  1. We can easily drink WAY too much of something when it’s compressed and juiced. To obtain x2 cups of orange juice, for example, how many oranges do you need to use? Probably more than your daily amount of vitamin C and natural sugars. (source) Just be a little caution here.
  2. Fruit juice has most of the fiber removed. The issue with this is the fruit juice’s fructose is absorbed more quickly. Causing “sudden spikes in blood sugar cause the pancreas to release insulin to bring it back down to a stable level”. (source) Everything is okay in moderation, so just take it easy on the fruit juice.

5. Toast Topper

Toast doesn’t need to be boring. 

Stick in a piece of multi-grain/wholemeal/gluten-free bread into the toaster and go nuts with the following toast toppers to end your day:

  • Sliced banana with/without cinnamon or honey (This is my favorite!)
  • Sliced banana on top of ricotta cheese, topped with raisins and pecans
  • Avocado with/without Vegemite (as an Aussie I have to mention it!) plus salt, red pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Sounds strange but it is a real treat for your taste buds!
  • Avocado with, trout or salmon, red onion and capers
  • Avocado, salt and pepper, with a hard-boiled egg you have pre-cooked and peeled
  • Cottage cheese and cucumber
  • Baked beans (watch the added sugar – or make your own) and avocado

Weight loss note: This may be obvious, but stay away from white bread and avoid adding butter/margarine. We discuss healthy night shift snacks HERE which is worth checking out for other meal ideas during the shift.  

Toast | Healthy post night shift breakfast meal ideas

6. Bite-Size Snacks

If the thought of eating a large meal before you sleep is enough to make you feel sick, why not try something a little smaller to hold you over?

These snacks are packed with protein and sustainable ingredients but may require some level of organization so they are ready for you once you get home. 

  • 90 Second muffin – add 1/3 cup dry rolled oats, 1 ripe, mashed banana, ground cinnamon, 1 egg, fresh pitted dates chopped into a microwavable mug for 90 seconds. Serve with fresh strawberries and 99% fat-free plain Greek yogurt.
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Protein cookies
  • Raw cacao balls for a ‘sweet’ hit
  • Energy balls (like our Paleo Granola or Coconut Brownie Bites)
  • A few mouthfuls of yogurt
  • Handful of pistachios
  • A glass of warm milk

Bonus Tips for Eating Post Night Shift

Weight gain traps after night shift:

Humans are programmed to function during the sunlight hours and sleep during the night, but as we know, us graveyard shift workers turn that on its head.

This can, unfortunately, mean our digestion is a little off resulting in weight gain if we are not careful.

Sugars are difficult for our bodies to process overnight and our metabolism also slows as it prepares for rest.

Some turn to the keto diet (click to read more about night shift workers and the keto diet) while other use intermittent fasting to mimic a ‘normal’ routine while most simply do the best they can. 

Read – Should I Eat on Night Shift? Why Intermittent Fasting Works.

Here are a few traps to be aware of when working the night shift:

  • Eating too much once you get home may make sleep an uncomfortable task, partially if your body has not had enough time to digest the food.
  • Not having items in your fridge/pantry so you end up using this as an excuse to stop for take-out. 
  • Drinking alcohol in the morning as a method to get you to sleep. You will find this post interesting, putting a new spin on “after-work drinks.”
  • We are not programmed to eat overnight. Avoid eating anything between the hours of 1 and 5am if you don’t feel like it. But like me, you’ll probably get hungry, so stick to high protein filling snacks like the ones we talk about here When Should I Eat on Night Shift? Avoid having a “second dinner” or BIG hot lunch at this time as your body is in go-slow mode and your digestive system cannot handle a big load of food at this time.

Related:What Should I Drink on Night Shift? 10 Energy Boosting Beverages

“Breakfast” vs “Dinner”

The title of this post, 6 Quick and Healthy Night Shift Breakfast Meal Ideas’ assumes that all night shift workers eat a ‘breakfast’ type meal after their shift. Generally between the hours of 5-9am.

But I know this is not always the case. 

Some graveyard shift workers like to have their ‘main meal’ before they sleep as it mimics what a 9-5 worker would do.

However, the issue here is that your metabolism and gastric emptying slows down and changes the way glucose and insulin are used and produced. This makes it very difficult to process particular foods such as a large pork chop in comparison to a bowl of oats.  

Eating big, heavy meals like pizza, pasta and fried foods before bed can lead to feelings of indigestion, reflux and discomfort, plus can also lead to nausea and potentially long term digestive issues. We chat more about this is an interesting post we wrote recently titled What Causes Night Shift Nausea and How to Finally Beat It

Our recommendation is to eat a small but sustainable-sized meal with limited added sugars and fats before you sleep post night shift.

Next…

Summary: 6 Quick and Healthy Night Shift Breakfast Meal Ideas

Healthy night shift breakfast meals don’t need to be complicated. 

Try not to overeat, but never skip breakfast to avoid waking up hungry later on.

We hope you enjoyed this article about healthy night shift breakfast meal ideas. What do you eat after a night shift? Please comment below – we look forward to trying new recipes!

 Cheers,

Emma signature | theothershift.com

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

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Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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