How To Count Calories In Homemade Food

how to count calories in homemade food

In this short article you are going to learn how to count calories in homemade food.

Whether you are cooking a recipe for your family for dinner, or you are at your in laws for the night, this will be your guide on how to navigate it the best you can.

This will give you some step by step guides here, so either get a pen and paper handy or take some screen shots so you can have later on.

I want you to leave here knowing exactly what to do moving forward with your tracking.

Understood? Awesome, let’s dive in then shall we?

How To Count Calories In Homemade Food

Calorie Counting 101

Before we dive into the meat and potatoes (get it? Because it’s an article about food!?), I want to touch on a few quick points.

First and foremost you are probably searching for how to count calories in homemade food because you are counting calories and want to see a change in your physique.

Whether it to be to lose fat, gain muscle, whatever.

If I can tell you one thing as your friend, it would be that 95% of people count calories wrong to begin with.

I am not saying that to get you down, I am saying that to help you.

I have had numerous people come to me and say “Eric I am eating 1200 calories but I am not losing weight!”.

Come to find out they weren’t tracking calories anywhere near accurately and they were actually eating more towards the 1800 calorie mark.

Let me make this very clear, if you are not weighing your food out in grams on a food scale then you are not counting calories.

You are essentially guessing numbers out of thin air.

I will also say if you are using cups, tablespoons, and ounces for your solids, that is also a surefire way to get an inaccurate calorie count.

Cups, tablespoons, and ounces are measurements of volume, not weight. A chicken breast for example is a solid which needs to be weighed as such, in grams, not ounces.

Oatmeal is a solid that needs to be weighed in grams, not cups or 1/2 cups.

I could go in depth here, but I already did in a YouTube video that covers exactly step by step how to count calories correctly.

I will link that here below if you want to give it a watch, I know it will help you a ton.

Beyond that, I want to help you out even more by making sure if you are a person looking to lose weight that you know how many calories you should be eating.

I have a totally free calorie calculator HERE if you want to head there to check out how many calories you should be eating. (Hint : the 1200 calories my fitness pal gave you is wrong).

In my article I wrote on the most common calorie counting mistakes I talk about how a few simple mistakes or calculations can lead to hundreds if not thousands of calories being unaccounted for.

You may think you are eating 1200 calories, but you really are eating 1900!

This means you won’t see progress and be wondering why. This is why right here.

Take some time, dive into the resources I gave above, and learn how to count calories accurately.

I promise it is going to pay off in the long run.

How To Count Calories In Homemade Food : Step by Step Guide

how to count calories in homemade food guide

With that being said above, the fact you are even here reading this article lets me know you clearly want to be as accurate as you can with your counting so you can see the best results.

For that, please pat yourself on the back. It can be very easy to just say “well screw it! I can’t be perfect so I will just eat whatever I want, not track anything, and get back on track Monday!”.

You are not doing that. You are here to work hard and put in the effort you need to in order to see results.

For that I respect you.

We are now going to head into the step by step guide you need to learn how to count calories in homemade food.

For this guide we will be using the my fitness pal app. It is a totally free app on pretty much all smartphones.

There are other apps, but truthfully this is the one I use with my online coaching clients , it has worked incredibly well for us, and again, it’s free.

Let’s cover two scenarios, best case and non best case, if that is even a phrase.

Best Case Scenario

Best case scenario when it comes to how to count calories in homemade food is that you are creating the meal from scratch and can be in total control of the ingredients from start to finish.

If that is not your scenario, don’t worry I will have another option for you, but just know that this is going to be the most accurate way of knowing how many calories are in your food.

Weigh Each Ingredient Out Separately

First off what you will do is weigh each ingredient out separately.

Let’s say you are making a chicken and rice dish with some veggies.

You are going to want to get each ingredient, weigh it out on your food scale (in grams), and account for them.

Let’s say you have

  • 450g of raw chicken breast
  • 200g of dry, uncooked jasmine rice
  • 100g of dry carrots
  • 2tbsp of olive oil to cook in

If the grams is confusing to you, I would encourage you to watch the video above on counting calories.

Remember if you are taking into consideration a solid, do the best you can to weigh it in grams.

Now you have all of your ingredients you are going to make your meal with.

Determining Serving Sizes

Sometimes this is where things can get tricky because it depends on the food.

If you are making something like muffins for example, the serving size is going to be based on how many muffins you make.

The recipe you are making produces 10 muffins, then your serving size is 10.

For something like a soup, casserole, or a dish that can’t be broken up into individuals, here is what I tell my online coaching clients to do.

One way of tackling this is let’s say you are making a meal for your family of 4.

You know each person is going to have some of the meal. In that instance, I would make the serving size 4. We will touch on how to know how much you had in particular ate here in a second.

Let’s say you are only cooking it for yourself so that you can have for that one moment in time.

In that instance, I would make the serving size one, because you are planning to eat all of it now.

If you were planning to eat some of it now and some of it later on, you can still make the serving size one and simply toggle the selection in which how much you eat.

More on this to come soon.

Input Into My Fitness Pal Recipe Section

Next, what you are going to is head to your my fitness pal app.

You are going to go to

“Add Food”

Click the “+” in the top right hand corner

Select “create a recipe” and choose “enter ingredients manually”.

From here, you are now going to be able to input all of your ingredients you just weighed out on your food scale.

So you will search for the food, input it with its correct serving size (in grams), then do that for each individual ingredient.

Remember, this is the importance of getting every ingredient as well as the accurate measurements for each one.

You may have to change the serving size in my fitness pal from cups to grams, and you can do that by simply clicking on the “Serving Size” line.

how to count calories in homemade food my fitness pal

Once you are done, you now have your recipe made up for your homemade food.

The next step for how to count calories in homemade food is going to be determining your serving size.

Determining Your Personal Serving Size

Like we mentioned above it can be a bit confusing to know how much you are actually eating.

From a technical standpoint what you will do is go into my fitness pal.



“Add Food”

Click on “recipes” and simply click your recipe.

how to count calories in homemade food mfp

This will then ask you how many servings you are having.

Here is what I will say.

Obviously for things like a muffin, or a cookie, if you have 1 that is one serving. If you have 2 that is two servings, and on and on.

Let’s say you are making dinner for your family of 4, you, your spouse, and your two kids.

You know your kids probably won’t eat as much as you (or maybe they will if they are anything like me!).

In this instance, let’s say your kids have about 1/2 of a serving each. This would leave it so you and your spouse both have 1.5 servings of the dish.

1/2 serving + 1/2 serving for the kids = One total serving.

1.5 serving for you + 1.5 serving for your spouse = three total servings.

One total serving + three total servings = 4 total servings, the same amount that you inputted into the recipe calculator.

Obviously assuming you ate all of it and the dinner is now gone, awesome, you are good to go.

If you ate a bit less than what you had expected, simply just adjust in my fitness pal to maybe have 1.25 servings instead of 1.5.

Now, if you are cooking for just yourself for that one moment in time, awesome, you would simply just pick the recipe and count you had one serving.

If you are cooking for yourself but making food for later in the week, here is what I would do.

Let’s say you are going eat half of the recipe for dinner tonight and the other half of the recipe for lunch tomorrow (which btw, is a great idea!).

What I would simply do is add the recipe, but just switch the serving size to 1/2 at dinner, and 1/2 at lunch.

Same thing goes for if you had it at 3 different times, say dinner that night, lunch next day, and snack that day as well.

You would input 1/3 serving size for each time you eat it.

This way, you are still accounting for all of the calories because you still ate it all, just at different times.

How To Track Calories In Homemade Food : Next Best Option

What I laid out above was the best case scenario. That is going to be a step by step guide to making sure you can count calories in homemade food in the most accurate way possible.

I fully understand sometimes you can’t do that. Maybe you aren’t the one cooking, maybe it doesn’t have an ingredient, things happen.

To that, here are some things I would say.

Focus On Consistency, Not Perfection

For as much as I bashed not counting calories accurately at the beginning of this article, the simple fact is sometimes you are not going to be 100% accurate. It just won’t happen, and that is okay.

Remember this is not a game of absolute perfection, rather this is a game of consistency.

Simply do the best you can.

This is why I am such an avid fan of counting calories in the way I showed you in the video above because the more you do this, the more you are going to learn what 100g of a cooked chicken breast looks like.

You will learn what 100g of cooked jasmine rice looks like, and so on. This is important because this will then help you be able to “guess” more accurately.

If it happens every so often where you have homemade food you can’t track to perfection, simply do the best you can, be as accurate as you can, and get right back to tracking afterwards.

My two cents would be to “guesstimate” towards the higher end range. If you think something is 100 calories, probably go for 150-200 to be on the safe side.

This way if it is higher calories, awesome, you guessed right. If it isn’t, sweet, you were under then!

Weigh Out After

This strategy is going to be very dependent on the food. If you are having a soup that is homemade, highly unlikely you are going to measure out the chicken stock, the chicken breast, the carrots, etc.

But if you are having a meal that you are able to weigh out the food on, like say chicken and rice, this is always an option.

What I would do here is again simply break out your food scale and get an accurate reading in grams of what you are eating.

It may not be perfect because you don’t know the exact ingredients, but something is better than nothing.

Just remember that most nutrition labels are depicting the calories for raw food, not cooked.

So when you are tracking food I would simply just specify that you are eating 100g of a cooked, grilled chicken breast, or 100g of cooked jasmine rice.

The calorie amounts do change from raw to cooked, so specifying that can help a ton.

Quick Side Note : Weighing Meat Raw vs Cooked

how to count calories in homemade food chicken

This is a very common question I get asked so I figured I would clear things up here for you now.

Like mentioned above, the most accurate way to track your food is raw or uncooked.

Now again, I realize sometimes this is not possible, so there are two main ways I like to go about this.

One is what I mentioned above, simple going into your my fitness pal app and specifying you ate 100g of cooked, grilled chicken breast.

The second option is using the multiple based on the cooked-ness of your meat.

The more cooked it is, the higher the multiplier, the less cooked, the lower the multiplier.

This is because meat loses size (water weight) the more it is cooked, but that doesn’t mean the calories change.

If you have 115g of a raw chicken breast that you cook to a nice and dry texture, it may be only 90g cooked.

Yet remember, nutrition labels take account raw weight. So even though it is only 90g cooked, you are still eating 115g of a raw chicken breast.

So what I would do is multiply your serving size nutrition information between 1.1-1.5.

For example,

Well Done Chicken

If a serving size of chicken breast is 4oz (112g) and you weigh it out cooked ( dry to the bones) and it comes to 90g, I would multiply 90 x 1.5.

This would give you 135, meaning it was probably about 135g of raw chicken breast.

You would then base your entering into my fitness pal off of 135g of raw chicken breast. This would give you the accurate nutrition information (protein, carbs, fats, calories).

Medium Rare Steak

If you are having a medium rare steak, since that is not cooked thoroughly much at all, I would make the multiplier lower.

Let’s say a serving is 4oz (115g). You weigh your steak out and it is 105g. I would take 105 x 1.2 to get 126g of raw steak you are eating.

You would then base your my fitness pal entering off of 126g of raw steak. This would give you the accurate nutrition information (protein, carbs, fats, calories).

Use Other Ways To “Count Calories”

If there is no way you are getting any sort of accurate calorie information from the homemade food, that is 100% fine too.

Remember, you don’t have to count calories, but calories always count.

Meaning there are a million ways to keep your calories in check, mainly revolving around portion sizes.

Remember the most important part of this equation is total calories. That means HOW MUCH you eat matters much more than exactly WHAT you eat.

My top two favorite ways to do it this is following the One Plate Rule ( I cover exactly what the one plate rule is in this article HERE ) and making sure no matter what you include some protein with the meal you are eating.

How To Count Calories In Homemade Food : Final Word

Well, I hope this guide on how to count calories in homemade food was insightful and it helped you out a ton.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below I would love to help the best I can.

If you know someone who can use this guide, send it on over to them.

Other than that, happy calorie counting and look to talk soon.


10 Replies to “How To Count Calories In Homemade Food”

  1. This article seems like it was written for me !!! I messaged you one or 2 weeks ago concerning the raw-cook meat weight in batch cooking. I never cook for myself only we are a family of three sometimes 4 (my stepson comes and go between here and his moms) plus I always do leftover because who want to cook again to prepare the lunches so sometimes I cook a dinner that is 8 servings and then eat some now and portion the rest for later and was all mixed up with the counting and estimates not that well the calories… this will help me a ton !!! Its going to take some time to learn and adapt but hey I’m patient now (thanks to you for that as well) !!!
    Always soooooo helpful 🙏🏼🙂

  2. omfg I didn’t even know you could do that in my fitness pal. here I was struggling, thanks eriiiiiiiiic!!!!!

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