How to Figure Out the Nutritional Value of a Recipe


Judge me if you will for this, but I used to read recipes and wonder how they figured out the nutritional value of the final product. Did they measure the heat it emitted while breaking down in some kind of science lab? (Science was never my strongest subject …) As it turns out, I was being way too imaginative.

Calculating the nutritional value of a recipe is actually really easy. You do not need to burn anything in a test tube, for one! You only need two things:

  1. A food scale. This one is only $14 on Amazon.
  2. A calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal.

Here’s what you do:

-Measure out each of the ingredients you’re using and jot that down.

-Open your calorie counting app and select “My Recipes,” or whatever its button says, and then “Create New.”

-Enter the name of your recipe so you can easily import it later. Then enter how many people it serves.

-Enter the amount you’re using of each ingredient in your recipe. MyFitnessPal lets you bulk import ingredients, which means you can copy and paste web recipes or quickly write your own recipe’s ingredients all at once.

Boom, that’s it. Your app will calculate the value of each serving, and help you easily log how much you eat.

“But I hate figuring out numbers related to food!” you might say. This process honestly takes about 30 seconds, and can be incredibly eye-opening. You could find out your morning smoothie has 500 calories plus. Or you could find out your favorite salad is only 150 calories and that you should supplement it with something else to make a full meal. Plus, it will tell you the values beyond calories, so you can find out if your recipe has zero fiber or any other potential problems.

Bothering to figure this out comes with other benefits. You can easily log your recipe whenever you eat it, so you no longer have to pick an approximation from your app’s long list of foods. Is your sushi bowl recipe similar to that of Zaxby’s or some other restaurant you’ve never heard of? Hint: it’s probably not! This also lets you create a bit of a personal recipe Rolodex on your phone, which is a great thing to have!

Figuring out the Weight Watchers point value of a recipe is about the same. Just create your favorite recipes in the app once and you can log them for life. (Hit the plus at the bottom of the screen, select My Foods, then Recipes, then “Create” in the upper right-hand corner.) Now if only MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers could talk to one another so I wouldn’t have to log everything twice!

You may not be a numbers person like me, and you may not wish to figure out the nutritional value of any recipe, ever. That’s a bold path to tread for sure. If it’s working for you, then why bother? For me, not paying attention to the numbers was not working. If you have readers who may copy your recipe, then at least it’s worth it to figure this out for them. It’s actually pretty easy. Hope this helped!