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Now that you’re building meal plans, it’s time to walk you through how you can customize your food list. This may be the most time consuming part of getting set up, but once have it set up you will rarely need change it.
Remember, anything on the Food List tab will be available in your dropdown menus on the Meal Plan tabs. There are three approaches to adding a new item that we will go over.
The first one is simple: If you physically have an item that you want to add to your food list, simply look at the nutrition facts on the back of that item and enter in the fields. For example, let’s say you want to add Pinto Beans to the list. On the back of the can it will tell you how many calories, carbs, proteins, and fats are in one serving.
The second approach uses the built-in database of over 7,500 foods, found on the Food-Database tab. The values associated with each food on this list are per 100 grams. To quickly find a food in the list, utilize the filter dropdowns along the column headers. So, let’s say we wanted to add Banana’s to our food list. You would click the filter and type in “Banana.” The list will then filter to any instance that your keyword appears. Scroll down to the food you’re looking for and simply copy and paste the values over to your food list. Like so... then change or modify the food name if you’d like.
There. Now would be a good time to explain how to convert any unit to a unit you’d like. Let’s say we wanted to add banana’s to our Meal plan but as ounces. You would simply use the converter in the top right. Convert: 100 …. Grams… to… ounces… Now you can simply change the Quantity and Unit without having to modify the other values.
Okay – but let’s say we wanted to change the banana value to a count. Like 1 Banana. We would first need to determine how many grams (or ounzes since we’ve converted it) are in 1 Banana. To do this, you will want to click Look-up by Food at the top of the Food List tab. Search for your item using the search bar, select it, and press enter. Now you’ll see a page showing the nutrient values of this food for a variety of Unit values. We can see that 1 large banana is the equivalent of 136 grams. So knowing this, we’ll go back to the Food List and say… If 136 grams are in 1 “x” … where X stands for any unit you want it to be, in our case it’s number of large bananas… Then, there are 0.735 large bananas in 100 grams of banana. Since our original nutrient values, and all of the values from the Food Database are for 100 grams, this again allows us to not have to change the calorie, protein, carb, and fat values. We would simple change the quantity to 0.735… the unit to “ct” which we will have stand for count… and we’re good to go!
So, to recap… we found out how many grams are in 1 banana, which was 136 gram, then backed into what the quantity would need to be for our nutrient values of 100 grams… which is 0.735.
Something worth noting is that when you enter data in the Food List, there are a lot of calculations going on in the background. You can tell if Excel is still working on updating everything by the indicator in the bottom right of your workbook… where it will say “CALCULATING” or “PROCESSING”. While this is going on, just let it think until it’s finished.
Now, the last approach is if you want to add a food that is brand specific or you’re unable to find what you’re looking for in the Food Database. To do this, click on the ‘Look-up by Brand’ which will direct you to another public database. This database has a few quirks to it, so it may take a few tries to find the exact food you’re looking for… But a good example of how to use this would be if we wanted to add Organic Strawberries by Driscoll’s. We would use the search bar… find our product and brand… then simply enter in the values just as we would if we had the nutrition label on the back of the product itself. I won’t bother entering this in, because I think you get the hang of it….
Back on the food list, you will notice that there is a section for notes. This is where you can make comments to yourself that will appear on your meal plan about a specific food. Maybe it’s about an allergy you have, or the glycemic index of the food, or a certain eating preference like Paleo that the food may associate with. Whatever it may be, you can enter it here as a reference when building your meal plan.
The other column is Cooking Yield Percentage. This is what drives the accuracy of your grocery and prep lists by accounting for the change in the weight of food when it is prepared. So, a great example is rice. We found that rice nearly doubles in quantity after it’s cooked, so if your meal plan called for 4 cups of cooked rice, then you only need to buy 2 cups of rice! You can adjust and modify these to whatever you find is most accurate, but for starters you can reference the Yield Percentage Database tab which has percentages we have found to work for common foods.