Without a doubt, food scales must be one of the most overlooked tools for anyone focusing on being health cautious and having fitness goals. Sure, there are measuring cups, spoons, containers, and a number of other ways such as just eyeballing or using the amount of food that just feels right.
Nevertheless, these measuring tools are like puzzle pieces and the food scale is the frame! Using a food scale can be a tremendous help in the kitchen as it allows you to pinpoint the exact amounts of foods you’re using to prepare your meals. Personally, I never liked using a food scale until very recently when I realized that the good ol’ eyeballing is just not going to cut it anymore.
Ever since I invested a few bucks into getting a scale and putting some effort into measuring my meals, my fitness journey is not only easier, but also more precise and less prone to exceeding my daily caloric needs etc. Let’s talk about a few ways a food scale can help your meal prep, being more precise with your overall calories, fit your kitchen needs, and most importantly help you with your fitness goals.
Using Food Scales
✓ Choosing a scale
I believe that picking up a kitchen scale does not have to be a rocket science. Sure, cheaper or expensive options are available to all of us, however, I have had a very basic food scale I picked up for $10-ish and it has been doing the job just fine for over half a year. Although you may want to consider a few aspects of the kitchen scale before you buy. These three factors should help you select a scale that will help you the most with your kitchen creations.
Sometimes the kitchen looks like a war zone. So let’s try to consider what is the purpose of the kitchen scale for you. Are you going to be doing a lot of cooking for a family? Are you meal prepping only for yourself? Do you cook big quantities of foods at once, or cook smaller meals more often? These are just a few questions to ask yourself to figure out how much food you will actually need to measure. The kitchen scale I use is primarily designed to measure foods up to 2 lbs.
It is great for measuring my proteins, oats, yogurt, snacks, powdered supplements, and such, however, it probably does not make much sense to use this scale if you know you will be cooking loads of foods and need to measure them precisely. Simply consider how much you cook or bake as that will help you sort out scales that may be suited for smaller or bigger quantities of foods.
In my opinion, the digital food scale is the best option to use for measuring average amounts of foods for a single person or for a couple. In addition, it is simple to use and a pretty straight forward tool. Usually, a kitchen scale will allow you to switch between different measuring units. My cheap and simple scale only allows me to switch among lbs, kgs, oz, and grams.
This plain measurement variety suits my needs the best as I do not use other units than these to prepare my meals. If you will need the kitchen scale to measure more precise units of measurement, try to shop around and choose a scale that will provide you with the options you are looking for. Some scales will vary with a number of unit variations it provides, but do not worry, there are plenty of kitchen scales to choose from!
✓ Size & Design
Another key factor to consider is your daily lifestyle. Some of you may be working on the road, live out of your suitcase, or simply will not spend much time at home. In that case, I would recommend selecting a scale which will not take up much space and will fit in your suitcase or travel bag. Whether you want to measure a hotel continental breakfast, fresh produce on the road or a number of snacks for your road trip, small personal travel scale can ensure you’re eating the right amounts of foods while being out and about!
The size component also ties in with the factor of a design. When looking for a kitchen scale, consider if you will be able to read the display after placing a bowl, container, or a plate on top of it. You do not want to un-box the scale and realize that you are unable to see how many ounces of broccoli you’re having with your dinner.
Tips For Being Precise
Now that you figured out the perfect kind of a kitchen scale, let me give you a few tips on the actual measuring part. The kitchen can be a very messy and unorganized place while I cook and a food scale has just eased the pain of trying to guesstimate the amounts of ingredients I use for cooking and helped me to organize the place a little. Here are some of my tips to help you avoid some basic issues with the scale.
✓ Dry vs. Wet Ingredients
Not all the ingredients you use in the kitchen will be measured the same. For example, fluid and dry ounces may have the same volume, however, they do not weigh the same. One of the ways you can always double check yourself is by carefully reading the nutritional labels on the food items and measuring your foods according to the labels.
✓ Peanut Butter and such
Due to the high caloric value of fats, sources of healthy fats can easily create a caloric surplus. For example, peanut butter has nearly 200 calories per 2tbsp but it is very easy to overuse it and create an unwanted excess of calories. One of the ways I started measuring items like the peanut butter is by placing the container or a package on top of the scale, resetting the weight to “0” and continuously removing the food until I end up with the desired amount. The weight you remove will appear as negative on the scale, and this little trick helped me to be more precise in measuring stuff like ketchup, peanut butter, jelly, etc.
As previously mentioned, resetting the weight on the kitchen scale can be a fairly helpful tool. I know it sounds rather obvious and therefore easy to measure stuff up on a scale but especially when mixing ingredients, the weight can get confusing. Whenever I mix multiple ingredients in a bowl I make sure I reset the weight on the scale to “0” after each addition to know exactly how much of each ingredient I am using. For example, whenever I measure snacks like nuts, seeds or fruit and place them in a sandwich bag, I make sure I place the bag on top of the scale first, reset the scale, and then add the ingredients. It just makes the measuring part exact and you will know precisely how much food you’re consuming.
Note: Usually, the weight of meats is given in the raw form of the meat. Therefore, if your meal plan calls for 6 oz of chicken and you simply cook 6 oz of a chicken breast, the meat’s weight will reduce after cooking.
✓ Bonus Tip
Measuring wet, runny ingredients like honey can be rather challenging. Whenever you use a tbsp or a tsp measurement for honey and add it to your food, the portion of the honey is usually left stuck to the spoon and you need to battle to scrape it all out. An easy trick to prevent the honey and other runny ingredients from sticking is to slightly spray the measuring spoon or tool with a non-stick cooking spray, and the honey will slide right off!
Take Home Message
Without a doubt, a kitchen scale can save you a lot of trouble with measuring your foods and guesstimating how much of each ingredient you’re actually eating. Knowing the exact portions of foods will greatly assist you in your meal plan in not exceeding your daily calories and being more confident in knowing how much you eat. Calculating macros also becomes very easy because you will know to the last ounce of food what goes on your plate and what stays in the slow cooker!
The kitchen scale definitely takes some getting used to and reminding yourself to use it, however, it gives you confidence in knowing your exact portions! Try to select a scale that fits your budget, meets your needs, and is simple to use and maintain and I am sure it can take your cooking skills to a whole new level!
Note: Knowing the exact weight of food can really help you make the most of food tracker apps like MyFitnessPal.