UNDERSTANDING MEASURING TOOLS FOR COOKING & PREPPING MEALS AND SNACKS
Using the right tools for measuring the foods on your nutrition plan is as important as the ingredients on the plan. There are various measuring utensils that are used in the kitchen but which ones are the most common that you will use and when will you use them?
First, not all measuring cups are the same thus they are not interchangeable. To ensure proper measurements, you’ll need these primary utensils:
For some of you, your normal cooking practices has little or no emphasis on the exact measurements (with the exception of baking). I completely understand why you may want to add a dash of this or that to help make your food taste “better”. I would advise not to do that as you are trying to achieve the goal because we may end up increasing a specific macro-nutrient to a level that exceeds your individual requirements. So, cook/prep to the measurement on the plan and do not wing it but know in time you will be able to eye-ball the measurements.
Although some items on the plan dictate measurements by weight (proteins & carbohydrates), the majority of foods you’ll find on the nutrition plans I design will list ingredients in teaspoon, tablespoon and cup measurements.
When determining what utensil to use you will first want to determine if the food item is wet versus dry. Things like milk, yogurt, apple sauce, honey, melted butter and water are all examples of wet ingredients. Items such as chopped nuts, flour, oats and cereal are examples of dry ingredients. Why does this matter? They are measured using different types of measuring cups.
Since we have to eat precise measured proteins (seafood, chicken, steak, ground meats) and some fibrosis & complex carbs (oats, rice, potatoes) you need a scale! Measuring by weight will ensure the most accurate per the plan.
Your digital scale should measure in grams, kilograms, ounces, and/or pounds is the best option. Also look for one that resets to zero to take into account the weight of the container that you may or may not use to hold the food item.
2. DRY INGREDIENT MEASURING CUPS
Dry measuring cups come in all shapes, sizes and forms. You can find dry measuring cups in metal, ceramic and plastic. They are usually sold as a set that includes a third of a cup, a quarter cup, a half cup, and a full cup measure. Metal/Stainless Steal measuring cups are preferred.
To measure a dry ingredient, fill the required cup to the top. Do so by dropping spoonfuls of the ingredient into the cup. Do not scoop the ingredient using the cup as this will compact it. Do not push down. Level off the dry ingredient by gently swiping the edge of a knife across the top of the cup.
You should also use the dry measuring cups to measure vegetables (lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers, avocado, etc). Just like dry ingredients, do not pack the vegetable into the measuring cup so leveling probably won’t happen but you shouldn’t pack or pile the vegetables into the cup either.
3. MEASURING SPOONS
Measuring spoons are used to measure teaspoons and tablespoons of ingredients. They also come in a wide variety of shapes and materials. I would encourage you to get the rectangular spoons for easy access to narrow bottle openings and it allows you to sit them on the counter without tipping.
Traditional measuring spoons are rounded and are usually sold as a set. Most sets include a 1/8 of a teaspoon, a ½ teaspoon, a 1 teaspoon, ½ tablespoon and 1 tablespoon measures. These can vary, depending on the set you purchase.
Unlike the different types of measuring cups, measuring spoons are used to measure both wet and dry ingredients.
To measure an ingredient using measuring spoons, fill the spoon to the top. Unless indicated (heaping), gently swipe the edge of a knife across the top of the spoon. If you’re using the measuring spoon to measure liquid, simply fill it to the top and add it to your recipe.
4. WET INGREDIENT MEASURING CUP
Wet ingredients are measured in a measuring cup that is often glass, or plastic, with a handle. Wet measuring cups indicate volume by the markings on the side of the glass. They vary in size. You can find glass measuring cups in 1, 2, 4 and 8 cups sizes. Ideally, you’d like to have a couple of different sizes in your kitchen.
To accurately measure liquid ingredients, set the glass measuring cup on the counter. Pour or spoon the liquid food item into the cup while checking the level on the side of the glass. The transparency of the glass ensures accuracy.
Do not use the wet measuring cup to measure dry ingredients, fruit or vegetables.
Please be sure not to convert measurements from cups/spoons to weight and from weight to cups/spoons. The measurements are not always interchangeable and because of that there is a high probability you will overstate or understate the required measurements.
Also, check out this great instructional video with the Kitchen Conundrums series by Everyday Food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzr82EuiJu0