I’ve been tracking my food for the past couple weeks. It’s that time in the Winter 5% Challenge when tracking IS the task and the challenge is fresh enough to actually try. Just to be clear here, “I hate tracking.” On occasion I’ll do it any way, like during these weeks of the 5% Challenge. Mostly I track to check the nutritional balance of my meals and firm up my sense of portion control. Often I have specific macro or micro nutrients that I’m interested at the time.
The old scale is looking like it could use a good cleaning.
When you get serious about tracking, or you get really tired of washing all those measuring cups you get a food scale. I like my electronic scale because it’s easy to read, does dry and liquid measurement, and also grams or ounces. The best feature is the ZERO button. That lets me put a bowl on the scale, zero it and toss in an ingredient. Then I zero the scale again and toss in the next. Keep doing this and you end up with a bowl full of ingredients and only one bowl to wash! I’ve taken to using “grams” because all packaging and most listings in the SP food tracker has gram servings listed. There are exceptions like most user entered foods, and some that just make me go “Really?!” Like Quaker Oats … REALLY?!
An assortment of measuring spoons
I still use a lot of measuring spoons whether i’m tracking or not. I had a mess of them, mostly bound together on a ring that the tablespoon always popped off of. It was shamefully recently that I finally freed my measuring spoons from their bondage and stuck them in a jar. I keep the jar on the counter beside the stove. I don’t mind going to a drawer to get a spatula or a spoon, but it’s nice to have the measuring spoons close and easy to get to.
It’s disorderly but all those measuring ups are in one place
i still use measuring cups. I tossed them in a drawer together. It’s a mess, but I know where they are. I’ve found the 1/2 cup is the most likely to wear out and most sets are missing that size. That might be why I have several sets of measuring cups. I cook for one and am always halving or even quartering recipes. My most prized measuring cup is my little stainless-steel 1/8 cup, it’s kind of hard to see in the middle of the picture above.
My breakfast written on the whiteboard
So, there I am weighing everything I’m putting into my salad or other meal. What do I do with this information. Tracking is most frustrating for people who cook a lot and eat mostly unprocessed foods. If I ate processed frozen meals all the time tracking would be a breeze. As easy as scanning the bar code on my smart phone. Instead I’m faced with a recipe that is not in the Spark database or a long list of ingredients. There isn’t much to be done about entering the ingredients. Although, I find that using the RECENT tab helps. I’ve learned I tend to eat the same ingredients in approximately the same amounts in a variety of different dishes. When I type in spinach it doesn’t just pop up by the time I tap the ‘p’ it autofills 60 grams. That’s a nice handful of baby spinach leaves.
I’ve started writing everything I’m fixing on a magnetic whiteboard on my fridge. I snap a picture of the board with my phone and can enter the meal to my tracker when I have the time. I still don’t always make the time. But I’ve made it a little easier. Making it a little easier is my goal. The whiteboard may be the real key to this system, not the food scale. I guess they work together. I’m an eyeball cook at heart. These days I’m cutting down the recipe to one o two servings but I’m not being exact. The scale and whiteboard makes this a trackable moment because I toss the ingredient into the bowl on the scale, write down the weight and toss it into the pot. Easy peasy … except it still needs to be entered into the tracker.
Saturday breakfast — there is a potato under there somewhere