One of the best parts of tracking macros is that it allows you to have that occasional meal out. This allows you to be flexible with your diet, meaning you will be able to sustain it by staying consistent.
Nothing beats the benefits of home cooked meals, where you know exactly what ingredients are being used. Restaurant meals, however, from time to time are perfectly OK to have. If you can, limit them to once or twice a week.
If you know you're going to have a meal out, it is best to work backwards by planning the meal out first, then plugging in the rest of your day around that meal.
Pull up a menu of the restaurant and loosely plan what it is that you're going to eat. You can track it ahead of time in My Fitness Pal by either guesstimating, or looking it up from their restaurant list.
My Fitness Pal makes it easy to track meals from certain restaurants. Mainly chain restaurants, where food is pretty standardized. Simply search the restaurant and the food item and log it.
If eating at an independent restaurant, where there is not available menu in My Fitness Pal, it is best to guesstimate.
It is better to overestimate than underestimate from a calorie perspective. Restaurants generally use a lot more oil than you would at home, so keep this in mind. when logging.
Look for similar items in My Fitness Pal. IE - search for "pizza slice" if you're having pizza.
You can always pick foods that are easy to track. It's much easier to enter: steak, green beans, rice, oil than trying to figure out all the ingredients that go into their lasagna. But again, if it's an occasional meal out, it's perfectly ok to just look up a generic "lasagna" entry. If this is done daily however, that's when you start running into trouble, as this is not the best way to track.
You definitely can track each individual ingredient. For example: A salad with spinach, strawberries, chicken, goat cheese, and cucumbers
Simply enter each ingredient into MFP and guesstimate it. You're pretty familiar with what 3 ounces of protein looks like from measuring at home. Same with other ingredients. Will it be accurate, no.. but will it give you guidance as to what to eat rest of the day? Absolutely!
Always ask the waiter how something is cooked. You can specify how you want your food cooked (ie. steamed instead of fried, or hold the butter/ oil, or dressing on the side).
Ask the waiter how many ounces of protein is being cooked, and record it as the raw version, since they weight their proteins raw.
Another option is to bring a portable food scale with you, or your own meal. But let's be real. It can get pretty awkward, and you do want to enjoy yourself from time to time. So this is completely up to you.
If you have no way of knowing what you are going to eat, or what restaurant you're going to, you have a few options.
Fill up on protein, veggies, and lower fat items throughout the day. Restaurant meals tend to be high in fat. This will give you a little more wiggle room when you're ordering your meal.
Simply order something that does work for you. Lean protein and veggies are the easy choice!
The goal of flexible dieting is to be flexible and be able to sustain this for life. You should be able to enjoy a meal out with friends, family, or co-workers without the fear that you will completely derail your progress. You can preplan or guesstimate as much as possible. Eat slowly and in moderation, not until you're stuffed. Remember to enjoy yourself and your company, not just focus on tracking obsessively.
Allow yourself to be flexible, and just get right back on track as soon as you can!