I’ll forever weigh these four foods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.