Recently I was asked by a regular reader to explain how and why I choose to weigh my food. I’ve heard from many people that weighing my food seems obsessive, but I think that’s a huge overstatement. If a person were to weigh every morsel that passes their lips, perhaps, but if you truly want to get an accurate representation of how many calories you’re actually eating, weighing food is vastly more accurate than just measuring, and that’s not the only good thing about using your food scale.
How to Use Your Digital Food Scale
Most digital food scales have two main buttons: POWER/TARE and UNIT. You use the POWER/TARE button to both turn the scale on and to zero out the weight. This is great if you want to use a bowl or plate to avoid putting the food directly onto the scale’s surface (which I recommend). You set the plate or bowl onto the surface of the scale and touch the POWER/TARE button. The readout should then read zero, and then you can add your food to get the most accurate measurement. The UNIT button allows you to cycle through units of measurement, such as grams, ounces, fluid ounces, and milliliters.
My digital food scale is like the one in the above photo: it has a flat top without any seams or anything, and that makes it super easy to clean. Just spray it with your standard kitchen spray and wipe clean with a paper towel. I also love the style of the one above because it’s easy to slide out of the way when not in use because it’s smaller than a cookbook! Plus mine runs on a mere 2 AAA batteries!
5 Fabulous Reasons To Love Your Digital Kitchen Scale
It’s more accurate for oddly shaped food.
Have you ever tried to portion out potato chips? Potato chips are oddly shaped and there’s a lot of air gaps between the chips themselves. Potato chips are also calorie dense, and you shouldn’t eat too many. If you’re counting your calories, do you really want to estimate how many chips you’re eating? I guarantee you’ll estimate you’re eating less than you actually are, and those calories can really add up. Heck, even a chicken breast is oddly shaped! Unless you cut it up into small pieces and measure it by cups, you don’t know how much you’re actually eating. And salad greens? Who the heck knows how much a cup of spinach is? Do I measure it loosely? Do I cram it in? WHO KNOWS?! A food scale can fix this problem.
You don’t have to dirty as many dishes.
When I make salad dressings, I don’t wanna use all my measuring spoons and cups to make one meal! I use one large measuring cup, and just tare out the weights for each ingredient. It sames me from having to wash a dozen utensils when one will do. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal for most people, but I cook 6-7 days a week, and the spoons can add up! My favorite thing to use this trick for is pancakes. I weigh out the pancake mix into a pourable glass measuring cup, then whisk in the water until it’s the right consistency, and then I can pour it right onto the skillet without using extra utensils.
You don’t have to spend 10 minutes scraping peanut butter out of a measuring cup.
Sticky, wet foods are near impossible to cleanly measure in measuring cups. Scraping it out is such a big pain in the butt, so why not just use a knife and spread it directly on the bread until you have the correct weight for a serving of peanut butter? That’s what I do! (Pro Tip: if you really want to use a measuring cup for something like honey, spray the inside of the cup with cooking spray before filling with honey. The thin coating of oil will help the honey pour out more easily.)
It converts between units for you.
Don’t want to do pesky math? Weigh it in grams, then punch the UNIT button and see how much it weighs in ounces! Now I’m sort of a math nerd, so I might already know that 1 oz. is approximately 28 grams, and I might enjoy doing algebra to calculate the area of a pizza, but the scale can help you avoid that if that doesn’t sound like fun to you.
Aids in portion control.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? That’s what they say, but did you know that a small apple has a mere 55 calories while a large apple contains double that? How do you know if you’re eating a large apple or a small apple? WEIGH IT. A small apple should weigh approximately 4 ounces total, or 4 per pound, while a large apple is more like 8 ounces, or 2 per pound. What about bananas? They come in all different sizes, too. Just today I ate a banana that was a mere 84 grams, which is about 4 ounces, and it was 75 calories. But it was a pretty small banana. Have you seen some of the bananas in the store? I’ve bought some that were double that. (Pro Tip: place an unpeeled banana on the scale and use the TARE button to bring the scale to 0. Then eat the banana. Place the skin back on the scale and that will tell you the exact weight of the banana!)
What I Don’t Weigh
- Cooked grains: these are easily measured accurately with measuring cups.
- Most liquids: unless you’re baking, a liquid measuring cup should be accurate enough.
- Sugar: measuring cups were made for sugar, IMO.
- Steamed veggies (exception – corn, potatoes): Most steamed veggies are not calorie dense enough to be that concerned about accuracy, so I use a measuring cup or eyeball it.
- Easily countable things: crackers, cookies, or anything prepackaged.
Honestly, I find weighing food way less time consuming than using measuring cups and spoon, especially when I factor in cleaning time, so I find it to be a real help in the kitchen.
Do you own a digital kitchen scale? If not, WHY NOT? Go get one, they’re CHEAP! 🙂