Weighing food can be confusing. Some questions I get include:
- Do you weigh food before or after it is cooked?
- How do you make big batches of things like sweet potatoes, pancakes or rice?
- How do I adjust the portion sizes to get the appropriate amount of macros?
As simple as weighing your food sounds, it can be kind of complicated. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy. But maybe still a pain in the ass. 😉
Food scales are an essential tool when monitoring food intake where measuring cups are not accurate across the board. Everyone measures with measuring cups differently and water content could vary based on how you cook something. Use a scale not a measuring cup. I have the OXO Good Grips Food Scale and I love it!
Example 1: Rice
If you want to make rice, making just one serving is not going to fly in my household. If I am going to make something that I can portion and freeze, I will.
Say I want to make 10 servings of rice.
1. Weigh out 10 servings of raw dry rice. grams = g
Using the nutrition label above, see serving size = 45g dry. I would weigh out 45g dry x 10 servings = 450g dry rice in the pot. Add appropriate amount of water.
2. Once the rice is cooked, weigh the cooked rice and divide that number by 10. You now have an accurate serving of cooked rice giving you 36g of carbs and 3g of protein.
Adjusting portions to fit macros
What if I need 50 grams of carbohydrates per serving and not 36 grams?
Well, you will need to do some math. Looking at the label above, we need to figure out how many carbs there are per 1 gram of dry rice. grams = g
36 g of carbs/ 45 g of dry rice = .8 carbs per 1g of dry rice
Then we need to figure out how many grams of rice we need for a serving that will yield 50g of carbs per serving, not 36g of carbs.
50g carbs desired/ .8 carbs per gram dry rice = 62.5g of dry rice
Now,you want to cook up 10 servings of rice. Weigh out 10 servings x 62.5g of dry rice = 625g of dry rice. Add appropriate amount of water and cook. Then weigh the entire batch of cooked rice and divide by 10. You now of an accurate cooked serving of rice that yields 50g of carbs. Now portion those servings out and freeze them.
Example 2: Chicken
Chicken must be completely thawed before weighing it raw. When it is frozen, a lot of water is bound up and will make the chicken weigh much more than it should. Your servings will be so puny! Trust me, I already made this mistake. grams = g
Using the nutrition label above for Tyson chicken breasts, you will weigh out 4 ounces (28.35g to an ounce. 4 x 28.35 =113g) for one serving. You want to bake up 15 servings, okay, 113g of chicken x 15 servings = 1,695g of raw chicken. Bake away!
Once bake, weigh the whole batch of cooked chicken, divide by 15 and you get your cooked serving for chicken. Now package them up and freeze the portions!
Another way to do this is take the entire bag of chicken you have, (thawed), weigh that in either grams or ounces. Pick one and use that all the way through the equation.
Say you have 64 ounces of chicken and you know that each raw serving you need to weigh out is 4.5 ounces.
Get the number of servings in this 64 oz bag of chicken.
64 oz of chicken / 4.5 oz = 14 servings in that batch.
Cook the batch. Weight the cooked chicken. Divide this number by the number of servings you calculated.
cooked batch of chicken/ number of servings = cooked weight for each serving.
Weigh out your servings and freeze.
Example 3: Pancakes
On a cheat or refeed day, I like me some pancakes. They must be low fat for my contest prep diet so I get a complete just add water type mix, gluten free preferably. I will usually make up a big ol batch ahead of time, freeze what I don’t need and then save the rest for my cheat/ refeed meal the next day.
Say I want to eat 4 servings of this pancake mix on refeed day to get in about 120g of carbs (don’t forget to count in the trace macros like the protein and fat in your meals’ macro totals) but I am going to make extra for later. So, I will make up 12 servings total.
I will weigh out 12 servings x 44g dry mix = 528g of dry mix in a bowl. I will add the appropriate amount of water, stir and make the pancakes. Once all the pancakes are made, I weigh all of the pancakes in grams, divide that number by 12. I then have the weight for one serving of cooked pancakes. If I want to eat 4 servings, multiply that final cooked number by 4.
Prep meals ahead of time at least 1x per week. I like to make up big batches that freeze well like chicken, fish, rice and sweet potatoes then portion serving sizes into containers. I put these individually portioned packages all in the freezer. Each night, I pull out servings needed for the next day. The rest of my food consists of veggies, nuts and healthy oils. I will steam up veggies per meal.
If you need to pack your lunches, have everything packed and ready the night before. You can also pack the entire meal in a container on food prep day and freeze it. When you need to eat that meal, pull it out, thaw and throw it in the microwave. I avoid the microwave at all costs (I don’t own one for good reason), so, I will make the veggies fresh and heat the protein and carb source in the toaster oven.