How to Track a Family Meal

I look forward to my Sunday night dinners with mine and Cody’s family all week long. I love being able to spend time with them and eat good food that I’m too lazy to make during the week. Anyone relate? For some reason, food other people make always tastes better, I don’t know what it is.

Tracking your macros for these family meals doesn’t have to overwhelm you though, it can be pretty simple actually! If you’re new to tracking, give yourself some slack, it does take a while for it to become second nature. Because I’ve been tracking for 2 years, I can confidently go through my day without preplanning everything, but you may just need some more diligence and practice before expecting perfection! Give yourself some grace with all of this. Consistency over time will always get you the results you want!

My biggest and NUMBER ONE TIP:

Track the meal before you eat breakfast. It’s pretty typical for a family meal to be higher in carbs and fats and lower in protein. You’re going to want to eat the rest of your day lower in those because it’s going to ensure you actually hit the numbers at the end of the day. Plus, there’s nothing worse than getting to dinner and realizing you can’t have anything you want and then feeling really bad about turning things down or getting upset later at yourself for going over all your macros.

Ask for the recipe before hand: 

Normally people plan out what they’re going to have for dinner when people are coming over. Or whoever’s cooking dinner for you will have some recipes they always gravitate towards. I know for me, growing up my dad always loved to cook. But during the week we cycled through the same 10-15 dinners throughout the month and Sundays were always up in the air depending on what we were feeling.

It only takes 10 seconds to ask for the recipe they use. Whether they found it online or made it up, you can go through MyFitnessPal (or whatever app you use) and click to create a recipe. Put in all the ingredients (whether you scan the labels or just search the products). After the recipe is in there, estimate how many servings are there and then track how many servings you had!

Once it’s saved, it’ll be saved forever, so the next time you have that meal you don’t need to rescan it all!

Find a similar recipe online

If you don’t ask for the recipe before hand but let’s say you’re having lasagna. What you can do, is either search on MyFitnessPal for homemade lasagna, or look up on Pinterest a lasagna recipe. You can ask the cook what ingredients they added so you can match a similar one. Even if it’s not perfect, it will be close! 

When searching one up, I just don’t choose the recipe with the most or least amount of calories and find one somewhere in the middle!

MyFitnessPal has a feature when you add a recipe it will ask if you want it manually or online. If you choose the online one (like if you found it from Pinterest) you can copy and paste the url and it will find ingredients for each of the items. You’ll want to make sure that any substitutions/add ons you make get in there but it’s a really simple way to do this!

If you are having these meals once a week or less occasional than that, this will be perfectly fine! If you are someone tracking and living at home or with someone else who does all the cooking, this is not going to be optimal for most/all of your meals and you’ll want to use some of the other tips.

Separate items

When I was living at home with my parents (and honestly even now with Cody), my dad would make a meal like stir fry but instead of mixing everything together, he would keep things separate for me. That way, when it was time to dish up, I could weigh out all my portions and track everything separate.

Suggest different protein/carb sources

Be open and honest about your goals! You can’t expect everyone else around you to change their habits and lifestyle to fit yours. But, when I started tracking, my whole family started following some of my habits. I would share recipes with my dad that included macros in them that were easy to track. I also started suggesting swaps like instead of rice we could do root vegetables, or instead of the beef we could switch it for chicken. Simple swaps like that can be easy to implement!

Bring a dish you made & tracked

If you’re going over to someone else’s house, bring your own dish. If you know they’re going to have burgers and fries, bring a side you made. Maybe you choose to bring some sort of salad/veggie, or some cooked potatoes vs the fries, etc. That way you know exactly what went into the dish & you can track it ahead of time and adjust your portions for the other foods to fit your macros. This also helps if they make comments about you not choosing to eat the fries, you can just say ‘I think I’m going to stick with ___ for my side, thanks though!’

Offer to cook that week

My parents and Cody’s parents and us switch off who hosts Sunday night dinners. So I know, every 2-3 weeks I will be cooking and I can choose a ‘healthier’ dish to make. Or at least choose the proteins I want in there. When you cook the dinner, you can manipulate the ingredients, track the day before, or make things separate for yourself without feeling bad! Plus it’s fun for the others to eat some of your cooking and test out new recipes!

Now I need to know…what’s your favorite family meal?! Mine is probably this homemade chicken alfredo my dad makes, it’s making me drool just thinking about it.

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