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Old 02-12-2011, 12:31 AM   #1
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Default Cooking for the Family

Calorie counters, I need your advice. When you're cooking for your family, do you just eat some of what you make for them? How do you keep track of the calories? So you make a pot of something and count every calorie that goes in....then, measure it all out so you can get a calorie count? Do you make a meatloaf, but keep some to the side to make your own little meat loaf? I like to make crock pot meals, but...the same thing. Do you cook with recipes? It may sound so silly, but this has been a problem with me getting started with weight loss again. My husband has gone back to school in the evenings. He's always been the #1 cook in our family and now I'm doing the cooking for 5. I really hate cooking and the only way I know how to cook is how my Mama did... southern style. I really need some pointers! Is it easier to just make my own separate meal? As crazy as it may sound, I'm almost paralyzed with indecision!
- Rhonda

"Live the life you've always imagined." Henry David Thoreau

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Old 02-12-2011, 12:44 AM   #2
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I just make it once, measure it out.

Like some crockpot stew? That was 10 cups? Ooookay. It goes into FitdayPC as a 10 cup thing. Then when I serve myself I can go 1.5 cup or something and it figures it out.

If it's something plain like steamed brocc. I'll weigh it and put "3 oz brocc, cooked" and call it good.

Started Jan 2016:

Last edited by astrophe; 02-12-2011 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 02-12-2011, 01:16 AM   #3
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I use the recipe calculator at SparkPeople a lot. It's helpful for things that use known quantities, but admittedly less so for "a pinch of this, a dab of that" recipes. For those, I admit I estimate a bit on less calorie-dense ingredients, but still carefully measure the heavier ones like butter or cheese.

That way, I might wind up eating an extra ounce of broccoli, but let's face it--I didn't gain this weight by eating extra broccoli.

I rarely make my own separate meal. I have a somewhat easier job as I'm cooking for two and not five, but a lot of meals are just as good for me as they would be for my husband or for any number of guests--everyone else at the table just eats different sides. Any roasted meat or poultry works well; those who are working on weight loss can eat meat trimmed of fat or skin plus lean side dishes while those who aren't can eat it with more caloric sides.

Main dishes with more ingredients like meat loaf I weigh out once cooked to get my own portion of it. The first time I made meat loaf after starting on my weight loss plan, I plugged everything into that recipe calculator; now I know that 1/6 of my meat loaf (about 4 ounces) is 235 calories, so my dinner portion is easy. Enter that stuff once and you'll be able to record your meat loaf (or spaghetti or chicken vegetable curry) with a click.
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Old 02-12-2011, 01:18 AM   #4
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Eat a bigger portion of veggies, a smaller portion of everything else, estimate calories. Don't let indecision keep you from eating healthier.

For your meatloaf example (I love meatloaf), I make a single kind of healthy meatloaf. It is good for my husband to have leaner beef or ground turkey in his meatloaf too. I would eat a small piece of meatloaf and a huge pile of veggies. My husband would get more meatloaf and a smaller portion of veggies (I might make broccoli for me and corn for him, since he doesnt love green veggies like I do). If I made a starch, I would either skip it or have a small taste. My calorie budget for dinners is 500 - no problem for a small piece of meatloaf, huge pile of veggies and a scoop of potatoes.
SIX YEARS at maintenance weight!

My very long weight loss story

"I saw an angel in the marble and I chiseled until I set it free."
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:19 AM   #5
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I like to prepare recipes that give nutritional information, then if it's 8 servings, I divide it up and eat one. But we do eat a lot of meals that aren't really recipes -- just a hunk of meat and sides. I don't cook separately, but like the other girls I'll often make something a little "extra" for the family, and just give myself more veggies. It's very important to me that we all eat healthier, but I try to balance that out for them by giving them a little something extra so they aren't complaining "just meat and veggies again?"
START: May 25, 2010
FIRST GOAL... 299lbs - ACHEIVED 9/28/10
SECOND GOAL...250lbs - ACHEIVED 4/13/11
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:36 AM   #6
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If it's a main dish casserole or soup or other recipe, I'll make it as healthy as I can, calculate the total calories in the recipe, then estimate what proportion of it I ate.

If the meal is a meat, veggies, and a starch, the easiest solution is to not eat the starch. It's usually just empty carbs, anyway, and can pack on a lot of calories without adding much taste. But, that's me.

Weigh the meat either before or after cooking, estimate what fraction of it you had, and calculate calories accordingly. (Note that the calorie counts per ounce for cooked meat are going to be different than the calorie counts per ounce for the same cut of raw meat; make sure you get the right value in the calorie counter.) As long as you're honest with yourself, it will be close enough.

I find this works better than estimating the volume of food with the common rules of thumb: 3 ounces of meat = a pack of cards or the palm of your hand, 1 serving of pasta = a tennis ball, etc. It's too easy to let the pack of cards get really, really big. But, these are useful tips for when you're eating out at a restaurant or a friend's house.

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Old 02-12-2011, 08:49 AM   #7
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I use recipes (or just measure what I am doing) and enter it into the daily plate. It calculates the calories per serving for me. I have entered a lot of my "go to" recipes, so they are already there for me.

I don't make separate meals...I don't have time, luckily my hubby is interested in eating healthier these days (or he'd be coooking for himself, LOL!).

I was SO resistant to counting calories for SO long....now, I have no idea why....

Re-start 12/14/10 at 256

There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going...the road to success is never an easy one. Stay strong and focused on your journey.

Last edited by mj5; 02-12-2011 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:28 AM   #8
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For almost all meals, I eat what I cook for my wife.

I use a computer program that I bought called "Weight By Date" and I installed into my laptop PC. It lets me track calories and much more. When I enter the ingredients of a recipe and how many servings it calulates nutritional information including how many calories per serving.

I find it is much more useful for me that the online tracking sites. We travel in an RV quite a lot and I frequently have no internet access. Since the software is resident in my laptop traveling and tracking my daily food is no problem.

People say that losing weight is no walk in the park. When I hear that I think, yeah, that's the problem. ~Chris Adams
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:59 AM   #9
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I recently found this thing and just used it for the first time last night. I like it so far! I make a lot of crockpot meals and if you know exactly how much of what you are putting in, it should be easy enough to calculate the calories. I also find helpful using a food scale so I know exactly how much of the dish I eat.
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:22 AM   #10
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Depends on the meal.
If I make a meat dish I don't eat because I am a vegetarian. Twice per week I make vegetarian meals and we all have the same thing, I usually have a small portion and pack on the veggies. When I do make a meat dish I always use low fat items. Eating healthy for us is a family thing, I cook and this is what I made, this is not a buffet. If my kids don't like what I have made they will not have dinner. Most of the time they give in and try it and end up loving it!
I think that if you are eating healthy then you should make it for the entire family, making seperate meals can be more work for you and you may end up tired of it. I learnt how to cook using recipes, low fat cookbooks, magazines you name it. Now that I know how to cook I don't use recipes as much.
Experimenting also helped, although there were many times I threw the meal out! Same with baking, making low fat cakes and muffins can be tough and I can't tell you how many times I threw out the entire cake or batch of muffins cause they tasted horrible!
Make small changes to your recipes if you have to and buy leaner meats, no skin on chicken, use olive oil as much as you can its healthier and use recipes if you need to. Magazines always have nutritional lables at the bottom and that helps a lot.
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:30 AM   #11
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Thanks to everyone for your advice. I now have a plan of action. I never knew about the recipe tools. Those will come in handly. I'll use the recipe tools and load up on the veggies and skip the starches. It really does sound simple. Thanks for helping me get some perspective!

Usam - my teenage daughter is a vegetarian. I've often thought it would be easier just to put the whole family on a vegetarian menu!
- Rhonda

"Live the life you've always imagined." Henry David Thoreau

Last edited by GirlyGirlSebas; 02-12-2011 at 11:33 AM.
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