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I’ll forever weigh these four foods.

Arielle Weg
April 16, 2018

I’ve never been great at the whole portion control thing. Most Sunday nights I’ll try to clean out the fridge by making a quick bowl of pasta and tossing whatever I have left into the mix. I typically pour dry pasta to fill a bowl, and boil that as a serving. Then I’ll bulk it out with handfuls of cheese, whatever vegetable I have on hand, and a helping of tomato sauce. Dinner is served, and next thing you know I’ve single handedly finished a bowl fit for three.

To keep myself in line, I’ve recently started to use recipes for every meal as a crutch. If I know exactly what goes into a recipe and exactly how many servings it should make, I can usually keep myself from overdoing it.

But then there are those few portion sizes that I think I know without a recipe. How much is a serving of protein? A hamburger to fill a small plate, yes? How about a bowl of pasta? A quarter of the box, right? I usually just guess—and then I tend to overdo it.

I decided to put my portion-control knowledge to the test by going an entire week weighing the foods I don’t typically measure out. I dusted off my kitchen scale, researched portions by weight from the American Heart Association and United States Department of Agriculture, and got cooking. Though I found weighing every single item I ate was not only super annoying, but totally unnecessary, I did find I was able to control my portions for many of my meals. After a week of weighing, here are the four things I’ll definitely put on the scale in the future.

Arielle Weg

Pasta

I was most excited to see if I could eyeball a serving of pasta. It turns out, a single serving of dry pasta is approximately 2 oz. which really isn’t a lot. So, I poured out a bowl of dry noodles to estimate about how much I would eat (my usual go-to pasta measuring technique), and weighed it.

What I perceived as a serving was 4.2 oz. That's more than double what I should be eating. And that’s before considering the insane portion sizes I’ll usually get at a restaurant. Needless to say, I packed in extra veggies to bulk out the bowl, and I’ll be weighing my pasta from now on.

Arielle Weg

Proteins

Later in the week, I prepped this Salmon with Kale, Walnut, and White Bean Salad for a few dinners. Though a single serving of protein is about 3 oz., this recipe called for a 6 oz. fillet per serving. I tried to estimate what I would assume that weight of fish would be.

I ended up with a 7.8 oz. fillet, so I clearly had no idea how large a serving of protein should be. After I cut (ok, more like hacked) a third of the fish off, I ended with a sizable serving. I’ll definitely be weighing my proteins in the future.

Arielle Weg

Wine

I’m not one to turn down a glass of wine, so I figured I should check in on how close my pour is to the 5 oz. recommended serving. Typically I’ll fill just about half the glass, which surprisingly gets me a 6.5 oz. serving.

I don’t see myself pulling out the kitchen scale every time I want a glass of wine, but I intend on being more mindful with my pours in the future.

Arielle Weg

Flour

I’m not much of a baker, but I’ll occasionally make a loaf of this Chocolate-Tahini Banana Bread (because it’s just so good). The ingredients call for 6 oz. of white whole-wheat flour, or about 1 ½ cups.

Before my kitchen scale days, I was a firm believer in lightly spooning some flour into a measuring cup and then leveling it off. To my surprise, 6 oz. of flour equals to significantly less than the 1 ½ cups suggested. Did weighing the flour make a huge difference in my banana bread? Not really. But if I have the scale available, I’ll probably use it.

My Takeaway

I’d have to say weighing my serving of pasta was the biggest shock of this experiment. I had no idea that I'd be off by so much! And while weighing my food didn’t transform my life or my cooking, I’ll definitely turn to my kitchen scale when a recipe calls for an ingredient by weight—or when cooking dry noodles.