If you go online you can find many metabolic rate calculators that will estimate the number of calories you will burn in a day. This however becomes abstract and doesn't seem to feel real to many people. I suggest that we look at our daily energy needs on an hourly basis instead of on a daily basis.
For example: I went online and found a few metabolic rate calculators and determined that my estimated daily energy burn is approximately 1920 calories per day, or 80 per hour.
If I eat something that has 80 cals in it then I know it takes my body 1 hour to burn that off. This seems to be a simpler way to view energy burning and eating. This also makes it more real.
If I have something to eat that has 500 cals in it I know that it will take my body over 6 hours to burn that off. You can see that it doesn't take long to fill up an entire days worth of energy burning in just a few small meals.
If you want to eat a big dinner you have to budget for it by not eating much before and/or after that dinner. This way you've taken some calories out of your energy bank knowing that you will put them back in during the big dinner. This is the only way that weight loss really works.
Eating a big dinner and telling yourself that you'll work it off at a later date will never work. It's no different than maxing out your credit card and telling yourself that you'll pay it all off next month. This never happens.
Instead you end up paying the minimum balance of interest off forever and never manage to reduce the principle balance of the credit card.
This is the exact same situation with weight gain and weight loss. Let's say you gain 10 pounds and tell yourself you'll diet and exercise it off later. The 10 pounds represents the maxed out credit card. Now if you eat at your BMR you won't lose any weight, you will simply maintain your weight with the added 10 pounds. In order to get rid of your extra weight you need to make an even bigger payment of your weight debt my under eating long enough to allow your body to burn the 10 pounds off.
This is why it seems so impossible to lose weight or pay off a credit card.
Making the minimum payment on a credit card will never reduce the balance and just covers the interest.
Eating just enough to match your BMR on a daily basis will keep you at your current weight and never allow your body to burn the extra calories needed to get rid of the stored fat.
It's a bit ironic that the two things in your life that require a budget (money and calories) are the two things that most people in North America are terrible at managing.
Losing weight is no different than getting out of debt. You have to 'budget' your calories just like your money. If you never pay off the credit cards you'll never be out of debt. Likewise if you never pay off your calorie debt you'll never lose weight.
The trick is finding a way to budget calories and pay off your calorie debt quickly and easily.