The Perfect Portions Scale is the number one recommendation I have for equipment for people to monitor ingredients in their food. Until someone comes up with an app that scans food and relatively accurately predicts calories (do it) this is what we have to work with. Basically the scale has codes you enter when your turn it on for different foods. For example 0115 is boiled sweet potato. How is use this is I will generally boil an entire pot of cut up sweet potato. I will then keep all the sweet potatoes on a plate in my fridge. From there I can grab some when I am making meals to thrown them in with other ingredients. One of the ones I like to use this with is the sweet potato egg hash I wrote about.
This dish worke for me because the only other ingredients that are in it are egg and spinach. The hot sauce and salt that I add do not add any calories to the dish. Eggs are 70 kcal, 4.5g fat, 0g carbohydrate and 6g protein per egg. By quickly measuring the amount of sweet potato I add I can get an extremely accurate measure of the calories and macros in the dish. I do this with most of the starches I cook. You can cook sweet potatoes, beans, regular potatoes, rice or home cooked bread. Once it is cooked in mass you just use the code for the appropriate starch, measure it out and throw it in the dish.
The code is provided by the manufacturer in a booklet that comes with the device. I got mine at Walmart, but I know you can find many other devices in a bunch of stores. Simply memorize the codes for a few of the starches or meats you will regularly use and cook a large amount of that food to store in your fridge. Instead of having to measure and pre-pack meals, you can make percision meals on the fly. I like this as it allows me to flex my meals around my life.
Flex Your meals???
Many fitness authors write about backloading different types of calories. For example, if you plan on having a couple of beers later in the evening you could lighten up on the carbohydrate sources you are eating earlier in the day. Subtracting 20g or carbohydrate from 2 meals leaves you with 40g of carbs and an extra 160+ calories to play with to get close to your goals for macros and calories.
If you are someone who doesn’t drink and believe it is damaging to have alcohol then I agree with you, don’t drink. The point is that being able to adjust your meals on the fly gives you much of the flexibility of not even thinking about what you eat. If you have ingredients you can quickly measure, you can keep tabs on what you eat similar to pre planning meals without the rigidity that comes with traditional meal plans.