Get a Food Scale, and use Grams, not Cups, Teaspoons, Ounces, or Pounds.

If you don’t have a food scale, get one, now. It’s a game changer. I have a link to some tips, at the end of the article.

Most of us, in the United States, don’t use grams, but we should.


Because the published food measurements are in grams or milligrams. Blood glucose is in milligrams/deciliter. Carbs are listed in grams.

It’s all in metric.

Switch from ounces to grams. It’s not that hard.

4 ounce hamburger? That’s a 113 gram patty. Just call it 110 grams.

We’re on a diet, so just try making a 100 gram patty, and eat that. Want a double? It’s 200 grams. It’s around 7 ounces. At that size, you don’t care about that last ounce.

Those damn fava bean snacks I like? 30 grams a serving, and 14 grams of carbs. It’s a bad snack. It’s almost 50% carbs.

14 g / 30 g = almost 0.5 = almost 50%.

See what I did? I went from a serving size to the macronutrient, and could calculate the ratio of carbs to weight without resorting to a calculator.

Consider peanuts. We know a serving is 1 ounce. We also know it has 6.1 g of carbs. What’s the relationship between a serving size and the quantity of carbs?

It’s harder to do the math. The serving is 28 grams. (1 ounce is 28 grams.) 6/28 = a little less than 25%, carbs. So it’s better than the fava beans.

Switch to metric.

Recipes in Grams

Most American recipes are calculated by volume. We have cups and spoons. Sometimes, we have pounds, and fractions of pounds. All the conversions between the volumes are difficult. Who remembers how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup?

Weights are easier: pound, half pound, multiple pounds. That’s how it usually works.

With metric, you use grams, kilograms, and millilters. With metric and weight-based recipes, you use grams and kilos for almost all ingredients.

Consequently, it’s easy to calculate the total weight of a meal. Each recipe has all ingredient measurements in grams, except for liquids, which are in milliliters. Milliliters can be converted to grams by just assuming they weigh the same as water.

Going from total weight to servings is also pretty simple:

25 grams is a little sample taster, a canape.

50 grams is a big taste, a little snack.

100 grams is a serving, or an appetizer.

200 grams is a big serving.

Once you know the ingredients in grams, it’s really easy to enter them into one of those calorie counter apps, like Pound A Week. You can just enter the ingredients, as if they were being eaten individually. Use the gram measurements. The app will show you the carbs, proteins, and fats macros.

Grams Let You Scale Recipes Up and Down, Easily

Look at this ingredient list:

3 cups ground chicken
2 T mustard

Now look at this one:

400g ground chicken
20g mustard

Imagine you want to double the recipe. Which will involve less cleanup?

With the volume measurements, you will use a cup, and a spoon.

With the weights, you put your food on the scale, and just keep adding the ingredient until you have added the right amount. Then, you can “zero out” the scale with the “T” button (for “tare”) and keep adding ingredients.

Now, suppose you want to halve the recipe. It’s a little easier with gram measurements. The mental math is simpler. You never deal with things like half-spoons, or half-cups.

Want more advice? Check out this nice post at The Metric Kitchen.

How to Buy a Scale for Under $10

Food scales are a category that’s full of competitors importing products from China, so I got my scales on Ebay, by patiently waiting for auctions to come up, and putting in low bids. Here’s how:

How to Find and Buy Promotional Auctions.

Another way is to haunt thrift shops, where they’re $3 to $7, but I think auctions are more fun.

(This was originally published on 2020-02-09.)