I was asked how I planned my meals. My way may not be the best for everyone but it works for me (and Al). My meals are primarily based on calorie count...with a watchful eye on amounts of fat, sugar, salt & cholesterol since these were what made me unhealthy in the first place. Other people may have different levels to watch out for within their daily calorie consumption.
BTW...another thing I realized was that I had no idea what serving size and portion control were.
If you aren't comfortable using an online tool, just keep a journal and write everything down in it. But first, I advise you to go online to find out how many calories you should be eating based on your age, body type, activity level & amount of safe weight loss.
Then the fun begins, lol, juggling that amount of calories between 3 meals and any snacks you may eat. I've heard alot of hype about dividing up your meals so you are eating smaller amounts more often to boost your metabolism and keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Please give this a try if you think it will work for you. Personally, I find it too hard to divide a meal in half to be eaten a couple of hours later.
As for the question...do I cook with the intention of having leftovers? The answer is no. I try to make enough for one meal at a time. With the exceptions of homemade soup and roasts. The majority of the crockpot goes into the freezer after having one supper and perhaps one lunch the next day. As for roasts, be it beef, pork chicken or turkey...whatever is leftover after supper, is vacuum sealed in small packages to be used as lunch meat in sandwichs. I try to alter recipes, especially casseroles, so they only feed 2. But some things just aren't doable so I end up leftovers.
I think the trick to staying within your daily calorie range is meal planning. Since my breakfasts are pretty much constant I only have to play around with my lunches and suppers.
I usually start my day out by deciding what to have for supper. Then I log all the ingredients into my food diary to find out the total calories. From there, I can see how many calories are left for my lunch and go from there playing around with different meals to see which one fits.
On days that I am having leftovers for lunch, that turns into my highest calorie meal of the day. Which means, I must choose a low calorie supper such as a grilled boneless skinless chicken breast with steamed broccoli.
On a night where a supper is very high in calories, there is no need for panic, lol, just have a salad for lunch, mine is only 25 calories!
Another thing to look out for while balancing your meals, is bad calories. For instance, if I know I'm going to be having an evening snack because we'll be watching something special on tv, I try to make up for it during the day. For instance, if I plan on having chips & dip with a drink or two that evening, I'm not going to have a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and mashed potatoes with gravy for supper. That would be so counter productive for all the good work put in.
Another example of this is a night when having a dessert. If it's a special occasion and we are going to have a cake, pie, ice cream, etc. for dessert, that's the day to have a lean meat served with veggies for supper instead of a pasta dish or a cheesy casserole etc.
When meal planning, also take into consideration what you will be doing afterwards. If you have time to do some exercising, then a high calorie meal won't stick with you. But for instance, if you are working nightshift, don't eat a big meal when you get home and then head to bed. I know it's hard to adjust to, you feel like you should be eating supper when you get home from work. But save that big meal to eat when you wake up so you've got time to exercise before heading back to work.
Don't forget to try to work in the daily recommnended servings of fruits, veggies, fiber and water to keep your digestive system rolling all day long :)
THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
This week I challenge you to discover if you are eating too many calories per day.
The first step is finding out how many calories you should be eating. Here is the link to an easy to use calorie calculator: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
The second step is logging everything you eat and it's calories. This entails quite a bit of time so if you don't think you can manage a whole day, just try one meal for this challenge.
Please note: pay attention to serving size on nutritional labels of the food you eat...don't just jot down the calories thinking that's what you ate...you may have eaten more or less than listed. LOL...this could also end up giving you a math workout!
You can also use an online programme to help you out for food items that don't come with a nutrition label. (I can't live without myfitnesspal!) I found this site for you to use for this challenge that doesn't require registering: http://www.calorieking.com/foods/
After you've logged in your daily intake and have seen how you measure up to what you should be eating, please return to my blog to share your experience in the comment area. LOL...I want to see how many of you are as flabbergasted as I was when I first found out how over the top my calorie consumption was!
DISCLAIMER: Whenever I use the word DIET in my blog posts I am in no way suggesting that I have invented/discovered some miracle system to lose weight. Whenever I use the word DIET, I am simply substituting a single word to replace the longer phrase EATING HEALTHIER THAN IN THE PAST.