If you came to this post to find out about container filling hacks and tips, then I assume you know about the Portion Fix/21 Day Fix. So I am not going to waste a bunch of time explaining what I am talking about. But if you don’t have a clue what I am talking about and want to learn you can find out here
Why can you trust my advice?
I have been living the Fix for going on 3 years now and lost 55lbs. In those 3 years, I have helped countless people reach their own weight loss goals by giving them advice and I have gained invaluable advice from those countless people too! This information is a combination of all of that knowledge.
I recently wrote a post about the higher “brackets” D-E-F and how to take some of the “bulk” out of their containers.
This post is exactly the opposite of that one, it is about cramming them FULL as you possibly can!!
Who is this post geared toward?
It is for people new to the Fix lifestyle and has never filled a container before or the people who start in the lower brackets A-B-C and feel like they are hungry all the time or maybe someone who has to learn to drop down to a lower bracket with fewer containers.
We will talk about some basic ways that we “experienced Fixer’s” get the very most out of every morsel of food that will possibly fit into a container.
A picture is worth 1000 words, sometimes.
I am going to let pictures help me as much as I can but pictures are 2 dimensional and so sometimes the “bulk” of a food can be harder to see in a picture. What I really want you to do is to get out your containers and see what I am talking about. (Unless you are a “shover-in-er” like I am and already know what I am saying)
When someone tells me they are hungry after eating all of their containers I immediately wonder if they ate all of their containers crammed as full as they could.
These are only examples…these are not the ONLY foods you can use these ways!
One of the most common things we get asked is “How am I supposed to measure my food cooked or raw?” The general rule for that is to measure it like you are going to eat it, measure it cooked if you are going to eat it cooked and raw if eating it raw. BUT you will see instances where that rule can be bent, think spinach, but we can bend a few things without breaking anything LOL.
Our assigned container amounts are based on a calorie range, that range is about 200 calories apart. Let’s stay with the example of spinach. One cup of cooked spinach has 41 calories in it and one cup of raw spinach has 7 calories in it, the 34 calories of difference will fit WELL within that 200 calorie range SO you don’t have to stress too much about it one way or the other!
Let’s get started with our Green container filling hacks and tips.
Our Green container holds 1 cup. 1 cup doesn’t sound like much until you pack that container so full that the lid might come flying off at any moment.
I decided lettuce was a good example for filling, but this could be ANY vegetable. This is 1/4 of a head of iceberg lettuce (yes, it is approved for the 21DF now) on a platter and chopped uniformly, so I can show you what I am talking about easier.
I packed and packed and packed some more and this is the only little scrap that wouldn’t go in my Green. Yes, 1/4 of a head of lettuce fit in this 1 Green container…who knew?!?!
This 1 “little” container…
can make a HUGE salad base.
Now do that with every container for the rest of your salad. Another full container with tomatoes, onions, cucs, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. Any combo you want! Crammed in so tight that if you breath hard the lid will just go air born!!
I do have another trick for cutting things like celery sticks and carrot sticks. I cut them twice as long as our container and then turn my green container on its side and stacking it only 1/2 full it still = 1G but you have longer sticks!
Maybe pick a protein for your salad?
On to those Red container filling hacks and tips
Another one of our most asked questions about the 21DF is “How much does our Red container foods weigh?” And my #1 answer is ALWAYS “No one food weighs the same as another food”
I understand wanting to be able to cook a steak or chicken breast whole or serve it whole. My answer to that problem was to get my kitchen scales out and weigh every meat I could get my hands on.
I started with the “Measure it how you are going to eat it” rule. So I cut up an entire cooked steak and put it in my Red, as tight as I could pack it and weighed it. 6.2 ounces. The next thing I pulled my scales out was for cooked fish. 4.9 ounces.
BOOM! No 2 types of meat are going to weigh the same.
Every meat I measured fell between 4 and 6 ounces. I decided to pick the number of 5 ounces of cooked or raw meat as my go-to measurement when I need to weigh my meat. But I truly use that container to measure anything I can.
Lean ground beef is the exception to my rule because so many recipes use 1lb of meat as 4 servings and that is about 4 ounces. That still fits into that “calorie range” the Fix accommodates and makes the Fix math easier. BUT I 100% of the time I measure my ground beef raw in my container when making burgers because I get a burger WAY bigger than 4 ounces, more like 5.5 ounces. Most of the time I get 2 normal sized burgers out of 1R. When I measure a 1lb package in my Red container I only get 2 3/4’s containers full.
How many times did I check?
I repeated the test with different raw meats AND cooked ones too. I basically got the same results, but to my surprise, there was VERY LITTLE shrinkage when I cooked it and remeasured it. The shocking thing to me is that I have seen people take entire ounces off for “shrinkage” when in reality it is more like .05 of an ounce!
Next, I tried leaving my meat whole and fitting it into my container.
I had 3 HUGE chicken breast pieces and was curious if I could squeeze one in my Red… and low and behold, YES! Each one fit rolled up sushi-style into my container. NO need to cut it and fit it any certain way. I grilled them and counted each one as a full Red container. I have done the exact same thing with a new york strip steak, left it whole and it fit in my container. Cooked it whole, ate it like a normal steak confident it was 1R.
Chicken tenders are a staple in my freezer. Using the “cram it in” method I find I can usually get 2 tenders in 1R with the lid down!!
Measuring other proteins
“How many shrimp is 1R?” is another popular question. And once again I beg “Use that container!” Shrimp come in so many different sizes that you just can’t give 1 number… and who wants to miss even one shrimp!!
When I am eating something like crab legs I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup. I crack enough meat to fill it up and eat that amount and do it 3 times. That keeps my meat warm but I am able to keep count of my container. I will also make a mixed container of 5-6 crab legs cracked and then fill the rest of my container with shrimp.
Remember ALL seafood has naturally occurring sodium in it so be mindful of your sodium on a seafood feast day!
Other tips for meat
I like to make meatballs but round meatballs in a square container just don’t fit very well and always leave me wondering about “more”. So I have started making SQUARE meatballs and it is easier too! I just use knife and scoot them apart. It makes it easier to get them all the same size too.
See how easy they stack? I actually got 12 meatballs in this red container!
Filling that red to the very HILT will be more filling than loosely filling it! Protein helps to keep you full longer so getting every single bite you are supposed to get is very important!
I have a post about different “man-made” Red container foods that are approved. Deli meats, sausages, cottage cheese…. it really helps you learn how to shop for them. You can find that information HERE.
How to handle that “little” yellow container!
Now let’s see about that precious Yellow container, our carbs. If you are not getting every bite you can out of this container that could be part of your “hungry” problem. We all love our carbs. The more the better.
One of my blogger friends worked up a wonderful chart that helps us understand a little more about our yellow container.
It tells us that we have a calorie range for every food on the yellow list. 90-130 calories. This comes in handy for finding store-bought packaged food like bread and cereal. I am careful not to use the top number very often when I am picking out a product because that would be topping out that “calorie range” too often and might slow my weight loss down to a crawl. So we have settled on about 100 calories for 1Y and never more than 130.
Pasta as a Yellow
Pasta can be a little tricky to measure. Whole wheat spaghetti just kind of wiggles out of the container the more you try to put it in! So I tell people to get just as much into it as you can…overfilling the container and THEN push the lid down cutting off all those wiggly legs off.
Another popular trick is “stacking”. But just fill that container FULL is my main point!
Finding the products that are going to give you “more” of something for 100 calories is a great way to get the most out of that Yellow container too.
Thus brand of pita only has 60 calories, so for 120 calories, I can have 2 full-sized pita bread as 1Y.
Finding a bread where you can have 2 slices for 1Y lets you have that more we have been talking about. I did an entire post about bread products.
If I need bread crumbs for a recipe I can turn a whole loaf of the Aldis brand into them. I took the time to measure how filled my Yellow container would be with the 3 slices for 1Y bread. EXACTLY 1/2 cup! The store-bought version I can find is 1/4 cup for 1 Yellow, so now I can use double that!
I devoted an entire post about how to find approved brands of cereal. Getting 100 calories worth can get you 1 full cup of cereal of some cereals instead of just the 1/2 cup of a normal yellow. Is this bending the rules a little? YES. But I have and have seen many people lose weight using this hack.
Now on to the BIG CHEESE and those container filling hacks and tips!
Pun intended… but that 1 Blue container can make or break your attempt at the Fix sometimes.
The underfilling of this container just makes me sad because cheese and avocado are LIFE sometimes. I rarely waste a blue container on nuts. I mean 14 peanuts used under the right circumstances can be great, like on an Asian dish. But if you are trying to fill up, I suggest cheese and avocado instead.
Once again we often get asked, “How much does a Blue of cheese weigh?” AND you guessed it………. “NO 2 kinds of cheese weigh the same!”
I shoved cheddar cheese as tight as I could in my Blue with the lid still going on weighed 2.3 ounces.
The packed the same way into that Blue was shredded Parmesan cheese at only 1.7 ounces.
So again I implore you to get that container out and use it.
Make a list of each kind of cheeses weight if you need to… so you can at least weigh accurately but don’t try to give all cheese 1 weight.
The day I played with cheese ( that is an odd beginning to a sentence) I discovered that 2 average slices of cheese, broken up, fit into a blue perfectly.
2 Babybel and 2 string cheese sticks count as 1B. Laughing cow wedges nutrition information tells us that 3, yes 3 wedges can be counted at 1B! The flavored Laughing Cow wedges work out to 3 for 1/2B… but the sodium in them will make you want to limit them to 3 and have 1/2 blue container of something else!
**** New Cheese Tip**** Mozzarella Pearls/Balls fit nicely in our blue! The small-sized ones are my favorite. I love to marinate them in different flavors. I got 25 of them in my blue with the lid on! The recipe for marinated balls is HERE.
Thinly sliced cheese has a completely different count. I just folded them square and 5 1/2 slices fit!!
On to avocado…and my container filling tip and hacks for this favorite!
Our food list says “mashed or 1/4 medium”. 1/4th MEDIUM? How much is that?? I watched Fixate one day and saw the California “medium” avocado she was using and almost fainted!! Because here in Tennessee all I can get are small or extra small and hers was the size of a softball. SO, I decided to start mashing my avocado into my Blue container and time after time 1/2 of the most common size of my avocados fit into that 1 Blue. Now if I want to leave my avocado whole or chunky I know how much to use. Mash the most common size avocado you buy into your Blue container so you have the same information and be sure to get every bite of it you deserve. LOL!
***NEW HACK*** When I make my version of guacamole I am careful to measure everything that goes into the bowl. This time I wanted tomatoes in it so I put 2B of mashed avocado and 2orange containers or 4Tablespoons of tomatoes in the bowl. So when I serve myself I can, with confidence, measure out 1B and 2T or measured orange container for 1 serving! If I had added anything else to add like onions I could have even more.
Are there any other “blue” container filling hacks and tips?
Yes! Another container hack I like to use is to split my Blue container up into parts. It measures as 1/3 cup. 1/3 cup split up is 5 tablespoons. Regular measuring tablespoons packed TIGHT but placing a FLAT surface on top of it (I use one of my container lids)to keep me honest. I also use my orange container to measure 2 tablespoon sizes.
That way I can split my Blue up during the day. 2T at brunch and 3T at supper or 2 tablespoons of cheese and 3 tablespoons of avocado on the same taco salad! The combos are endless.
Last but not least is our beloved Purple container filling hacks
The same basic principles apply. Fill it UP! You might not want to mash your grapes in very hard but I have found cutting them in half gets me twice as much as leaving them whole. The same thing with whole strawberries vs sliced strawberries. If I can choose, I always opt for sliced so I can have…more!
I love watermelon and so getting every single bite of it into my purple is really important. I have been known to carve a square the exact size of my purple before.
To sum this post up: SHOVE THEM FULL!!
***UPDATE*** TO THIS PURPLE SECTION OF CONTAINER FILLING HACKS!
A banana can cause some debate in the 21 Day Fix circle! So I again investigated the situation and came up with this information: A small-sized banana is one that’s less than 6 inches long. A large-sized banana is one between 8 and 9 inches long.
SO according to our list 1/2 of a large banana is going to be the correct amount 🙂
This banana is 7 inches long……but the same circumference as a 9 inch one. With that knowledge, I can confidently cut my banana at 4-4 1/2 inches for 1 Purple!
Another banana tip: I always have 1/2 banana hanging around I always it the next day. But you are looking at how I store it…because mother nature does a WONDERFUL job so I let her do it 😉 I only have to cut a sliver off the black end…. the rest of the banana is perfect.
I hope this helps a few of you on your journey. If you know of any other container filling hacks let me know in the comments!!