Hay several options available to help you determine the nutritional value of home-made meals: do the research and calculations on your own, use an online tool or other software that calculates nutritional values or rely on the labeling of packages. The number of ingredients in the food and the amount of nutritional information you need to know impact on the amount of time and effort you need to calculate the nutritional value.
Identifies the desired nutritional information. Organize the process by defining the information that is important to you. It takes less time to calculate only the basic calories of proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, fats or fiber content. On the other hand, you can go in depth and determine the values for any, or all, the vitamins, minerals, types of fats and amino acids.
Create a method to record the information. Develop a simple form that can be used as a template. Consider using a grid format, in which the nutrients you want to track appear on the top and the spaces for the ingredients go down in the left margin. That way, you can easily see if you have all the nutritional information of each ingredient.
Investigate each ingredient. Use the nutrient database of the USDA (Department of Agriculture of the United States) or NutritionData. com to find all the elements of the food or ingredients in the recipe and write down the nutritional values of each item you want to track. The information in the USDA nutrient database is presented as measurements. NutritionData com includes measurement and a percentage value based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. Do not forget to look for the nutritional values of ingredients that seem insignificant, such as baking powder or condiments. These can increase the amount of salt much more than you imagine. You may also be surprised to learn that a small ingredient is a good source of some vitamins or minerals.
Calculate the nutritional value. Add the nutritional values for each ingredient of the food or recipe. While it is a simple sum, it can take a long time if you are interested in calculating all the vitamins and minerals. If your recipe is for several people, divide the total by the number of servings, to determine the nutrients for each of them.
Uses recipe analysis tools. Doing research and math on your own is a great way to familiarize yourself with the nutritional values of the foods you eat most often, but there are also convenient online tools that are available to calculate the nutritional value of the food.After a fast registration process in NutritionData. com or SparkRecipes. com, you can list the ingredients in your recipe, click on the analyze button and receive a detailed analysis of all the nutritional values of the dish.
Check the nutritional labeling of the packages. If you have labels on the packaging of each ingredient in your food, you can base yourself on that information. The labels contain the nutritional values for a serving, so add the label information of each ingredient you have used and you will have the nutritional value of a serving.
Download software to track your diet and analyze nutritional values. The University of Illinois offers a nutritional analysis tool (Resource 2) and many others are available at a variety of prices, including the Recipe Box Nutrient Calculator (Resource 3).