Calorie-Counting; meals vs recipes and my family doesn’t like that.

This is a very recurrent topic so I’m going to attempt to simplify it as much as I can.

When one member of the family is attempting a caloric deficit, it may seem difficult to feed the whole family “diet” food; the good news is that you don’t have to. The bad news is that it won’t be easy unless you plan ahead and learn the skills to manipulate the caloric content of each plate within the same or a similar recipe.

Let’s assume that mom wants to get a little leaner to meet her competition weight while dad is losing weight because he’s been working too much and comes home starving so he needs to put on some mass, and the kids don’t like mom’s “healthy” food, and dad needs way more calories than that. Oof… someone is going to give up their goals… Or maybe not.

One of the biggest issues I see is that people try to make recipes with lots of ingredients that are difficult to track or calculate or even eyeball. This is OK if you are trying to gain weight/mass/bulk but not very helpful if you are trying to lose/cut/lean out. 

Instead, my suggestion is to simplify your cooking and look at separate ingredients.

Things to always keep on the fridge:

Leafy greens (spinach, spring mix, lettuce, etc.)

Chicken (grilled, ready-to-eat, rotisserie)

Tuna cans

Boiled potatoes

Boiled/soft boiled eggs

light mayo

Greek yogurt

Ranch packet


Tuna packets

For example, pick one lean protein that anyone can eat (mom, dad, or the kids), pick one carb/grain that anyone can eat, and pick veggies that everyone can/will eat per meal. The amount of each of these ingredients is dependent on each individual’s needs and likings. The additional ingredients are also dependent on the individual’s needs and likings.

Meal one (somewhat planned; I always have this on the fridge):

Chicken (grilled, baked, steamed, boiled)

Potatoes (boiled, baked, air fried)

Tomato and cucumber salad.

Green leafy veggies.

Avocado, ranch dressing, seeds, cranberries, butter, bacon bits, greek yogurt, or sour cream 

Mom: Large green leafy bowl with one chicken breast one small potato, and some tomato cucumber salad.

Dad: Two chicken pieces, 2 or more potatoes with butter/sour cream/cheese, some salad, some leafy greens with avocado, and all the toppings. 

Kids: Chicken, potato with butter/sour/cheese, some veggies to preference, offer them.

Meal two (dad grilled):

Hamburgers, buns, light mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, cheese, bagged leafy greens, chips. 

Mom: large salad bowl, one or two hamburgers depending on the protein and caloric needs, buns if they fit, otherwise, toss it all in the salad bowl, add some tomato, and greek yogurt dressing or vinegar and measured oil. 

Dad: Hamburguers with buns with whatever he likes to add to them.

Kids: Make your own if old enough, otherwise, offer what they need and a little of everything so they get to try it.

Meal three (didn’t have time):

Fried fish, tater tots, microwaved broccoli, and leafy greens from a bag.

Mom: Large leafy green bowl, with one tuna, can with mayo/ketchup mix, one or two hardboiled eggs to the salad, greek yogurt with whey or not for dessert. If you want and your calories allow for the day, you could have one fish or some tater tots (track and see if they fit).

Dad: Whatever he wants plus some broccoli and/or salad (always eat some veggies guys… ), there’s ice cream in the fridge too, yes, a personal-size cup just for you.

Kids: Go for it, get a few baby carrots at least, OK? 

Meal four (my oldest kid cooked the ground beef or I had it frozen ready to defrost and heat):

Ground beef with taco seasoning, additional… tortillas, Greek yogurt and sour cream, shredded cheese, refried beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, and leafy greens.

Mom: Taco salad, large leafy green bowl with whatever fits inside, lean beef (it’s OK to measure cooked in this instance), greek yogurt, refried beans, tomatoes, and anything else you like that fits. 

Dad: Tortillas filled in with beef, greek yogurt and/or sour cream (dependent on protein needs and calories wanted), cheese, guac, and anything else liked.

Kids: Help yourselves. 

Meal five (came late from work and ordered pizza):

Mom: Large leafy salad, tuna can/pouch with mayo/ketchup if needing protein and/or some eggs, any other veggies on the fridge (mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots…), one or two slices of pizza if there’s room for it or a greek yogurt with whey and frozen fruit for dessert.

Dad: Yeah, you can have your calories, we know you need them, get some protein and veggies too, eggs or a shake, or some Greek yogurt with fruit and whey. 

Kids: You know the drill 😉 

Hope it helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *