How to Use a Food Scale

Measuring food on a scale may help with portion control.

Measuring food on a scale may help with portion control.

Food portions have been on the rise for the last several decades. Prepackaged foods often contain multiple servings in one package, and restaurants often serve excessive portions. Larger than recommended portion sizes may increase the likelihood of overeating and gaining weight. The best way to accurately measure food and control portion sizes is to measure food on a scale, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. After measuring foods routinely, recommended portions are easier to recognize at a glance to assist with portion control when the scale is not available. Using a kitchen scale will also help provide exact measurements when preparing a recipe.

Set your kitchen scale to “0” before beginning to weigh items, if using a scale that requires manually weighing food. Digital scales and spring scales do not require this step.

Figure the weight of the empty container you will use to hold your food during the weighing process by placing it on the empty food scale. A digital scale will give a reading on the screen. A spring scale will take a few seconds to stop moving the needle before it is ready to give the weight. A weight scale will display the weight number in the reading area after you slide the weight and balance it against the weight of the container. Make note of the weight so you can later subtract it from the weight of the food.

Place the food you want to weigh in the container and place it on the scale. Make the required adjustments to get a reading, depending on the type of scale you have. Be sure to weigh the food in the correct form, cooked or uncooked. In general, foods that expand by absorbing water when cooking, such as rice, should be measured before cooking. Foods that will lose water during the cooking process, such as steak, should be measured after cooking.

Figure out the exact weight by reading the number on the scale, then subtract the weight of the container.


  • Research the type of scale that best suits your budget and needs. Food scale options include digital, spring and weight scales.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to get the correct reading.

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About the Author

Abigail Adams began her freelance writing career in 2009, teaching others about medical conditions and promoting wellness by writing on online health and fitness publications. She is educated and licensed as a registered nurse, having received her degree from North Georgia College and State University.

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