How To Count Calories In Homemade Food: 2 EASY Methods

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I’m going to cover two methods for easily counting your calories when making homemade food, even if you are cooking a complicated recipe with multiple ingredients like soup or chili.

If you have any questions about either of these methods, please leave a comment at the end of the article, and I’ll respond within 24 hours. 

1. The Automated Method: Using An App

The easiest way to track the calories in your homemade recipe is to use a calorie-tracking app.  

I use an app called MacroFactor

Using an app is a much easier way to track your calories since it has a large database of food that already has all of the calorie information. Plus, you can save foods and recipes for future use.  

Lastly, using an app also allows you to “portion” out your meal. So, if you make a big pot of chili, for example, you can still take a scoop and figure out how many calories are in a single serving.   

If you don’t already use a calorie-tracking app and want to use MacroFactor, you can enter code FEASTGOOD for 2 free weeks.

Now that you have an app, I’m going to show an example of a homemade juice recipe using MacroFactor. 

Step One: Go To Recipes

To create a recipe, click on the “+” at the bottom of the screen. 

step one: go to recipes - click on the +

Select Recipes to check the ones you have previously created. 

Here you can also create new ones by clicking New Recipe.

step one: go to recipes - new recipe

 Step Two: Create Recipe

When you click on New Recipe, you’re presented with the following options:

step two: create recipe

Step Three: Add Ingredients

Click on Add Ingredients and add them by searching manually, with the quick add feature (where you input the nutritional information), your personal library of saved foods and recipes (yes, you can use existing recipes as ingredients for other recipes), or with AI describe.

step three: add ingredients

Step Four: Select the Ingredient

Once you type the ingredient and click search, several results will appear. 

Choose the one that best fits the one you are using. 

step four: select the ingredient

When you select an ingredient, the nutritional information for that food will appear.

step fore: nutritional information appear

Step Five: Modify the Content

One of the app’s benefits is that you can modify the portion size of the ingredient. 

This will give you the nutritional information for said portion size, giving you a more accurate result. 

For example, if the recipe asks for 1 cup of strawberries, modify the serving size to one cup.

step five: modify the content

 Step Six: Add all Ingredients

Repeat the steps with all the ingredients in the entire recipe or meal. 

Write the recipe’s name at the top of the screen, include prep and cook times, add a description, and list step-by-step instructions. Click on the checkmark at the top right corner to save the recipe.

 step six: add all ingredients

Step Seven: Modify the Servings

If you are cooking a recipe or homecooked meal for the entire family, you need to determine the serving size.

If you want to modify the serving portion, go to the recipe and change the servings. 

step seven: modify the servings

For example, this recipe is for potatoes. 

If you cooked the potatoes recipe for four people, place the number “4” where it says “servings.” This also works if you cook one large recipe and want to distribute it into even servings for meal prep purposes.

step seven: edit recipe

This will automatically divide the recipe by 4 to give you the nutritional information for only one serving.

step seven: edit recipe - potatoes

2. The Manual Method: Using A Spreadsheet

If you do not have access to a calorie tracking app, the manual method is a great option for determining the calories in a homemade meal.

With that said, you will still need internet access since you will need to determine the calories and macros of each food in an online database.

I recommend using the US Department of Agriculture website.

Here are the steps to follow if you decide to use this method. In this particular example, I am creating a homemade chili recipe.

Step One: Create a Spreadsheet or Use a Paper and Pen

Click to make a copy of this spreadsheet:

number of portion spreadsheet

To keep everything organized, it’s better to create a spreadsheet and write down all the information about the ingredients you use.

Alternatively, you can keep track of all the ingredients using a pen and paper, or the “Notes” option on your phone.

Step Two: Measure Everything

To determine the number of calories and macros in each food, you need to measure everything. 

It’s better to weigh each food using a weight scale to get a more accurate result.

I recommend a food scale like this one from Amazon.

However, if you don’t have a weight scale, you can measure each ingredient using cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons. 

For example, if the recipe called for ½ a cup of black beans, you would place ½ of black beans on the food scale and then record the number on your spreadsheet. 

Step Three: Use Website to Determine Calories and Macros

Now that you have written down each ingredient and its measurement, it is time to get the nutritional information. 

My favorite website to use is the one from the US Department of Agriculture.

In the search bar, you write down the ingredient you want to search for.

food data search bar

Once you click search, it gives you all the foods related to that keyword.

Choose the one that is the most similar to your ingredient.

Put the ingredient that you are looking for and hit search. 

There you will get a list of several foods that contain that ingredient. 

For example, if you put “beans” this is one of the search results.

food central - beans

Select the food that corresponds to the ingredient you are using. 

For example, if you are using pinto beans for your homemade chili, select “beans, dry, pinto.” 

Always make sure that you choose the correct cooking method. 

In some of them, you will find the food “raw” and, in other cases, “cooked.” Once you click on the food, it will display the nutritional content.

In most cases, the first option it gives you is 100 grams, but you can change it to cups, teaspoons, or any other measurement according to the food.

nutritional content of dry pinto beans

Add the information for each ingredient on your spreadsheet or wherever you keep track of your food.

Step Four: Add Everything and Determine the Number of Portions

Now that you have the information about each ingredient, you must add everything. 

Add the total calories, carbs, proteins, and fats to get the total calorie content of your recipe.

If you want to create individual portions or your bulk recipe, divide the total by the number of servings you want. 

For example, if you are going to divide it into 8 servings, divide the total nutritional information by 8. 

Other Tips To Consider When Tracking Calories In Home-Made Food

Measure in Grams

Measuring your ingredients in grams rather than tablespoons and cups will give you the most accurate calorie and macronutrient reading.

In addition, If you don’t want to store your bulk recipe in individual containers, I recommend weighing the entire portion in grams. 

This will allow you track the serving you take each time in your calorie tracking app by inputting the number of grams you eat of your recipe.

You can input the grams you will eat at the same place where you can modify the serving.

Track Every Single Ingredient

If you change, add, or remove an ingredient, you must alter the recipe to have accurate information. 

Every ingredient that you modify needs to be accounted for.

This includes less obvious ingredients like cooking oils or condiments that you might use during the cooking process.

Serve Different Portions in Individual Containers

Portioning out the servings of your bulk recipe or homemade meal into individual containers is a great way to ensure you eat an accurate portion of your food.

This can also be a great time saver and will work if you don’t have a food scale to measure your entire recipe and portions in grams.

If you have airtight containers, it can help you extend the shelf life of your food. While they are somewhat expensive, they are a good investment.

Other Calorie Tracking Resources

About The Author

Colby Roy

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.

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