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ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
11/23/13 12:44 A

Time to really find the foods you like, the recipes you like - a diet is an opportunity for change when it comes to cooking. Easier said than done, I know. One of the nicest developments in cookbooks I've seen in my lifetime is the appearance of 'five ingredient' and 'three ingredient' cookbooks, for example. You may find only one or two recipes you actually like in a book like that but it's certain to have nutrition information attached.

The hardest thing for me - when my kids were home - was cooking and making so much that people could have seconds and I always felt good when there were leftovers. That was a bad habit I never broke even when I was trying a new diet. Really, if the recipe said 4 servings and I measured the ingredients, we all 4 could have had just one serving for dinner of whatever it was. Then - no leftovers, no second helpings and anyone who was really 'starving' could have had a pb&j or something simple. Dividing the cooked result into 4 servings would have been easy, we would have eaten and there would have been nothing left over.

Instead, I made lots of food because I tried to figure in everyone's appetite. But a serving is a serving.

If you go to the library, there are tons of cookbooks with nutritional information included. You can build a universe of food with known quantities of calories and really have new and exciting food introduced to your table.

Pasta + butter + parmesan = a three ingredient entree. One of my favorites. What matters is eating just one serving. Making that one serving of a modest size. This is actually one of my favorite quick entrees.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,617
11/22/13 9:43 P

It doesn't really sound like you're ready to try

KPA1B2 Posts: 780
11/22/13 9:34 P

I've found that if I make homemade dinners I can make it with fewer calories then a similar item that is pre-made or pre-boxed. It is more time consuming to figure it out, but it's worth it.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (66,733)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
11/22/13 9:08 P

Perhaps throwing things in without measuring is how you got in this predicament to begin with?

I think that you are awfulizing here. There is no need to eat out--that is really the worst thing that you could do. Just keep measuring cups handy and jot down what is in your recipes. You can record/track them later if necessary. Or even better, track and plan your meals ahead of time so that when you are hungry you don't have to stop to track.

Do you know about the "grouping" function? That is handy for things like salads and sandwiches that you repeat over and over again. I find it easier to deal with than the recipe tracker, especially for food combinations with fewer ingredients.

Good luck!

NIRERIN Posts: 13,949
11/22/13 5:47 P

there is a learning curve with anything. there are a few tricks to make cooking and tracking a little easier. one is having a scale with a tare function in your kitchen. the second is to have a little notepad. you need to consider the scale the waystation to what you're putting in the cooking pot. so let's pretend you're making dirty rice. start by measuring your rice, adding it to the pot to cook, and noting down how much rice you used. you don't need to add water measurements because it has no cals. once the rice is cooked, you use a teaspoon or Tablespoon to measure out your oil into the pan. jot that down on your notepad. while the oil is heating you chop your peppers and onion. pop a plate or bowl onto the scale and tare it out. then add the chopped peppers to the dish, note the weight, then toss in the oil to sautee. then do the same with the onion. if you're adding any other veg to the dish, chop it up, rest it on the dish on your scale long enough to get the weight and dump it in to cook. once you've gotten all the ingredients jotted down, you have the total calories of your dish. there are several ways you can divide it out. you can divide the total yield of the recipe into equal containers [so say i scoop for your plate, 1 scoop for your so's plate, 1 scoop for leftovers container one, one scoop for leftovers container 2, and back around until it's all dished out]. when i make anything in my 9x9 pan, i divide it into 9 servings. my 9x13 pan i always cut into 12 pieces and my loaf pan i cut into 8. or, as others have noted, you weigh out the total yield [put a container on the scale, tare it out, add it all] to get the total number and then you can portion out your food [stick your plate on the scale, tare it out, serve yourself like you usually would] and then note the weight. your total recipe might make 450 grams, but you serve yourself 75. so you ate 1/6 of the total yield.

RIET69 SparkPoints: (47,087)
Fitness Minutes: (11,285)
Posts: 3,116
11/22/13 2:40 P

I love to prepare and eat homemade meals most of the time. I do not find it difficult to track them because I know what is in them.

EXNOLA Posts: 286
11/22/13 2:34 P

I throw food into recipes all the time and I still use the recipe calculator. I measure salt, flour, and oil/butter. Any veggies are easy and if it is canned but the calculator wants cups, measure one can and you've got it.

Yes, it takes a few minutes, but it works and then it is there for you to put in then, tomorrow when you eat leftovers, and in a few weeks when you make it again.

You can also look up recipes and find one close to the one you are making to get a pretty good guess.

WHOLENEWME79 Posts: 949
11/22/13 2:16 P

I use the sparkrecipie site and find it incredibly helpful. It takes a little time to input a recipe, especially when I have to manually enter a food, but once it is in there, it makes cooking and tracking what I cook a breeze.

When people say they don't have time for that sort of thing, I suspect it is an excuse. I work full time, do a clinical rotation (also full time), take classes and study for my board exams. I know about not having time. But I can still do it, and if I can do it working while working, doing a clinical rotation full time, studying for boards, and going to school, then I don't see any reason why someone else cannot do it.

It takes being organized and having the right tools. A good scale, preferably two, and a good idea what the recipe entails, as well as standard measuring tools. If you just weight and measure as you go, you can enter it into the tracker. Then when it is done, enter number of servings, and save it. Once a recipe is in there, it is so easy to adjust the measurements if you change the recipe. Then you just add it to your regular tracker.

Of course, you don't have to do this. As you said, you can eat only prepacked foods, since that is the simplest solution. Just maybe not the healthiest.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 16,246
11/22/13 2:04 P

Once you get used to the recipe builder it is quick and easy. Takes some adjustment, but works great.

I do eat pre packaged food from time to time, but I really like to cook from scratch.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
11/22/13 12:48 P

"I guess I am stuck eating prepackaged items. I don't have the time currently to work on recipes in the recipe builder."

Well that's.. just...

sigh well.

No. You are not "stuck" - it is your "choice" if that is what you want to do.

You do not HAVE to build each recipe in the builder. You can tally it up in your head as you go (2 potatoes, 1 onion, 3 carrots, 2 cups chicken broth, 12 ounces ground beef, 1 can tomato soup). From there you can rather quickly figure out that the whole pot has X calories. Now - are you eating the whole pot? Sharing it equally with 1, 2 or 3 other people? EASY to divide the calories of the whole pot by 1, 2, 3, 4...... *E A S Y*. Have you made a big batch that you can't easily divide? Just scoop it out with a 1-cup or 2-cup measuring cup as you transfer it from the pot to your big serving/storage bowl. Oh boy, it made 8 cups. Now you divide the calories of the total pot by 8. Now you can just serve it out by the cup. EASY.

It takes almost no time, maybe an extra 3 minutes of your time. Sure the calorie counts won't be precise but they will be "good enough" and the food will be a darned sight healthier than eating 100% "prepackaged meals." Do not let this little learning curve stand in your way as if it were an insurmountable deterrent!

SIMPLYME80 Posts: 406
11/22/13 12:24 P

I have always cooked for my family..After chosing to lose weight, I noticed I ended up gaining if I weighed, measured my portions! Often the suggested portion was not enough for me and I'd snack later in the day or between meals on whatever was available..even those cute 100 calorie packs/snacks can add weight if the entire box is eaten! . I stopped and began to use a lunch size plate on Top of a full size one making the table setting look even. I noticed when I ate enough (not over full) at meals, my snack habit decreased and weight became to come off. Anyway this is what worked for me.

JAMIRBLAZE Posts: 1,621
11/22/13 12:13 P

I also have just weighed the final product. For example: All of the ingredients together equal 1200 calories, and it weighs 2000 grams. I want each serving to be 300 calories and 1200/300 = 4, so each serving should be 500 grams.

Also, with the recipes, I cook for myself, so if something makes 4 servings, I'll usually just eyeball it. I'm going to eat it all anyway, so being a little off is okay to me. But you can also just weigh the end result and divide to be more accurate.

Weighing to me is much easier than measuring cups and more accurate.

10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 12:04 P

I appreciate all of the ideas. I'm just frustrated with cooking at the moment. The hardest part about losing weight for me is watching my intake.

10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 12:03 P

I have thought about that. It is nice with premade recipes that they have servings usually. I guess I could try to do that. It might save time.

10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 12:00 P

I guess I am stuck eating prepackaged items. I don't have the time currently to work on recipes in the recipe builder. That will be a project I can add to my list. And when I get the final product, such as stew, I guess I will need to measure the number of cups in it.

JAMIRBLAZE Posts: 1,621
11/22/13 11:58 A

I make all sorts of homemade meals (mostly from Eatingwell's recipes). While, yes, it won't be 100% accurate because who really knows what a "large onion" is exactly, it's a pretty good estimate. I do weigh and make sure that any measured items are accurate in the recipe. I figure that it all comes out in the wash with one time being a little more, next time being a little less, and something like an onion doesn't make a big difference anyway. I also tend to eat to the low middle of my range, so being a little off is okay - I've lost 80+ lbs. eating this way. I have before made my own recipes that are easier to be exact, but either way works, for me, at least.

Edited by: JAMIRBLAZE at: 11/22/2013 (11:59)
10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 11:58 A

I try to only go to restaurants with calorie counts.

10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 11:57 A

I've used it but when you cook without recipes and throw things in as you go it isn't the most efficient tool. Plus so many ingredients aren't in the system by can or package size. You also have to accurately measure your big bowl of food into portion sizes.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
11/22/13 11:56 A

Oh heck, it's really easy to count calories at home! MUCH easier than trying to "best guess" restaurant items....

My biggest kitchen assistant for this purpose is a digital food scale. I just weigh everything. I'll put my plate on the scale, set it to 0, drop on my chicken. 4.5 ounces, done. Hit the "0" button, add broccoli... 200 grams, done. Hit "0", add slice of bread, 45 grams, done.

Now if I'm cooking a recipe... I use the recipe builder. I weigh (or measure) the ingredients as they go in, build my recipe, input how many servings, and bam, done, the recipe builder tells me how many calories etc per serving. It's a bit fiddly to set up a recipe, but totally worth it if it's something you cook often.

If my spouse cooks and I can't be exactly sure of every last bit of what went in? I'll use a generic entry off the nutrition tracker. "Beef stew, homemade, with potatoes" - yeap that sounds like what I ate, more or less... 1.5 cups... DONE.

It doesn't matter if you're 100% precise, particularly with lower-calorie ingredients like vegetables...

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
11/22/13 11:52 A

You can enter recipes into your tracker and then the tracker will calculate the calories for the whole thing an you can divide it up into servings.

10ALLIE05 Posts: 32
11/22/13 11:48 A

How do you make anything homemade on a diet? It seems like it is so difficult to get an accurate calorie count when you make something that combines ingredients. Eating a piece of grilled chicken with vegetables and a grain on the side or salad gets old.

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