Old Fashioned Cookbook

Whether you're measuring portions for weight control or accuracy, a food scale is the best way to go. But if you don't have a scale, there are other ways you can measure portions using your hand or common household items.

Measuring cups and spoons may be your next best option for keeping portions in check if you don't have access to a food scale. These types of utensils work well for milk, grains, vegetables, cut fruit, oils and nut butters.

  • 1 cup is the standard portion for milk, yogurt, cold cereal, cooked vegetables and cut fruit
  • 1 tablespoon is the standard portion for nut butter
  • 1 teaspoon is standard portion for oil 


A 1-cup serving of flour is equal to 4 1/2 ounces, according to King Arthur Flour. For accuracy, sift or fluff the flour before measuring with your cup.

In a pinch, use your hand as a tool to measure portions. Use conversions where a:

  • closed fist equals 1 cup
  • handful equals 1/2 cup
  • thumb equals 1 tablespoon
  • thumb tip equals 1 teaspoon

Your hand can also help you estimate weight measures, where a:

  • pointer finger equals 1 1/2 ounces
  • open palm equals 3 ounces

Due to the variations in hand size, household objects may be a more accurate way for you to measure portions, where a:

  • tennis ball equals 1/2 cup
  • baseball equals 1 cup or one medium piece of fruit
  • deck of cards equals 3 ounces
  • ping-pong ball equals 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • CD equal one pancake
  • cassette tape equals 1 ounce of bread


No matter what you're using to measure portions, check yourself using the standard portion measures, whether it's a food scale or cups and spoons, to ensure accuracy.