From Scratch Cooking and Logging

I just don't understand everyone has the patience to log everything! I did for about 6 months and I hated it. I cook a lot and almost exclusively from scratch. This wouldn't be a problem because of the recipe feature except almost nothing I make is the same each time! I'm an urban organic farmer, so I use up whatever is around me. For example, I make tons of veggie stock from scraps. I store it in my freezer in ice cube trays and use it for cooking not just soup but whenever I make lentils, quinoa, rice, etc. But the stock is different each time depending on what scraps I have. I can't possibly make a recipe for it and that throws off the base of everything! It didn't seem like a big deal at first, so I made a recipe and just used that everytime as an estimate. But this pattern follows with literally everything I make and it A) got entirely too tedious and time consuming to keep making recipes and B) started to become obviois as I got closer to goal weight and calorie limits changed that by using general recipes, the calorie and nutrition counts were off anyway.

Any other frequent, from scratch cooking people on here? How have you found ways to log and track food effectively?


  • eccentricplaza
    eccentricplaza Posts: 115 Member
    It’s easier if what I’m cooking is baking. While the food is in the oven (or if it has to simmer or water boil) that’s when I quick scan all the ingredients. It’s frustratin for things like little pizzas though.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,260 Member
    Well legumes, grains and root vegetables have quite a few calories so I try to account for those as closely as possible. I think with vegetable stock, I would come up with a number and just use that consistently.

    I have several mostly vegetable meals I use on a rotating basis and I also make most of my meals from whole ingredients. I enter those as "Meals" instead of "Recipes" because doing that allows me to tweak individual items as they are entered into each day.

    Recipes adds a portion of a specific recipe - Meals enters the individual items in a list to the FOOD page. I don't know if that will help you at all, but that's what I do.
  • mountainmare
    mountainmare Posts: 294 Member
    I am a "dump and pour" from scratch cook. I make my own stock and buy most of my food that is grown locally, including eggs, chicken and meat. I have a few recipes in the recipe builder but I know they are not going to be the same all the time. I also have some meals built. What I do is look up recipes (some of my cookbooks have calorie counts) and take sort of an average of the calories among the recipes that seem close to mine. I know that my logging is not exact--but it does keep me mindful of portion sizes. As long as I am losing weight I'm happy. I could not log as accurately as many do here--I'm not going to weigh the bones of my eaten chicken or see how much oil was absorbed during cooking...but that's just me.
    As long as you are going in the right direction just do what it working for you, if you stall try to see where you may need to tighten up on your portions.
    Of course I'm old (69) and didn't grow up with the need to know everything instantly frame of mind--so I'm okay with being a little relaxed about the whole thing.
  • apullum
    apullum Posts: 4,888 Member
    Unless you're putting in oil or other high calorie ingredients, vegetable stock is going to be pretty low calorie regardless of the exact ingredients in it. I would just choose a database entry for vegetable stock and use that. It might not be exactly right, but the margin of error for that particular food should be low.
  • Running2Fit
    Running2Fit Posts: 702 Member
    I cook dinner from scratch almost every night. It does add a bit of time and takes some patience. I don’t know if it’s 100% accurate but as long as the weight keeps coming off then I assume I’m doing good enough. I also don’t make my recipes differently every time I make them.

    Why don’t you just label each batch of vegetable stock with its number of calories? How often you do you make it?
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    I sometimes use stock from a jar and sometimes use stock that I've made myself. Since I go back and forth, I just use a generic "stock" value when I'm building my recipes. Either way, it just doesn't have that many calories (unless I'm making one that is unusually high in fat). I consider "close enough" to be fine for stock.

    I cook virtually everything from scratch. I build my recipes to my best understanding of what I'm going to be making. If there are minor changes, I often don't bother to edit. This has never impacted my ability to lose weight or maintain, but if I started to notice inconsistencies, I would probably get more rigorous.

    For me, it comes down to this: is it worth it for me? I consider the effort worth it because counting calories is the best method I've personally found to manage my weight. I probably spend 5-10 minutes a day entering recipes and pre-logging and that is a good time investment for me.
  • happytree923
    happytree923 Posts: 464 Member
    I batch cook every weekend, all my full meals are homemade. I keep a little notebook while I'm cooking to log the weights of all the ingredients and put it in the recipe builder when I'm done. Getting all the info into MFP takes maybe ten minutes a week. It doesn't need to be agonizing.
  • FL_Hiker
    FL_Hiker Posts: 919 Member
    edited October 2018
    I'm a from scratch cooker and successfully lost my weight without a scale and being too nit picky and have been fine maintaining. Plenty of people maintain weight in the world without measuring or logging their food. For me I enjoy loosely logging my food, it helps me plan out my meals each week so that food doesn't get wasted and I like talking to people and i'm on here anyways. You must be in tune with your hunger signals, and know what a reasonable portion looks like (whether you learned this from weighing or just naturally good at estimating). Sometimes when I make something new I have never made before I'll also look through the database to get an idea of what it costs calorie wise and i'll log something in the same ball park. I make a menu for each season and consistently eat the same thing every week so it is also easy for me to adjust if I see the scale trending upwards. My diary is open if you want to take a look how I do it.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,859 Member
    I'm a scratch cooker for the most part...when I logged, I did use the recipe builder and even though nothing was exactly the same every time, I figured it was good enough unless a particular recipe changed significantly. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good or good enough.