I wanted to touch on a topic today that may not be crazy and wild, but will help make your life a lot easier with a few techniques, tips, tricks, and hacks. Our exciting topic today is scales and weighing food.
First, a digital scale is a must. I personally use a 1000g digital AWS scale I got off of Amazon for around $10.
This one has lasted 2 years, and is easy to wipe down and clean. I have a 500 g check weight for calibration, and it has always been within a gram of the check weight.
If it doesn’t seem to be weighing correctly, batteries probably need to be replaced.
We bought a second one for travel, and accidentally bought the 100g version. More on why this worked out later, but we ended up keeping this one and buying another 1000g scale.
At $10, I highly recommend getting multiple scales…one for your travel bag, one for home, one for work, whatever.
There are few things more frustrating than getting ready to weigh something and remembering that your scale is on your desk at work.
You can eliminate excuses by planning ahead! We have had to make a midnight run to Walmart when traveling for a show and forgetting a scale, which was quite an adventure in itself.
Second, learn how your scale works. There is usually a unit button, which lets you switch between Grams and Ounces.
I use whatever the serving size is listed on the label of what I’m weighing.
This makes things much easier.
A few conversions that may help are as follows:
1 oz = 28 gr
1 tablespoon = 15 gr
1 cup = 224 gr (liquids)
The other button on your scale is the zero/tare button. This one is a magical one. It resets the scale back to zero while compensating for whatever is already on the scale. If you wanted to weigh a serving of cheese, instead of putting a bowl on the scale, figuring the weight of the bowl, adding cheese, doing some math, etc, you can put the bowl on, hit tare, scale goes to zero, and you just weigh out the cheese with no math on your part.
I don’t like washing dishes. Anything I can do to save dishes is worth my while.
When making a salad, you can put your serving bowl directly on the scale.
Add your greens of choice. Record.
Tare back to zero. Add your other assorted veggies, toppings, whatever, and just remember to record and tare after each addition.
You don’t need to weigh each ingredient in a separate bowl before you add it.
You can weigh it as you add it.
When it comes time for the dressing, you can do the same thing.
Full salad bowl on the scale, tare, and add away.
The really cool part about this is that it helps you start to get a visual idea of what a serving size is in a real dish, not just the measurement, which comes in handy when eating out or those times you can’t track.
And while a serving size may be 28 grams, after seeing it on your dish in real life, you may decide that half that works. It doesn’t just work for salad either.
This also works wonderfully for chocolate syrup on ice cream, or condiments on a cheeseburger. Put your burger on a plate on the scale, tare it out, and add your ketchup and mustard directly on to your burger.
This also works for coffee when adding creamer. Speaking of coffee, I love me some QT coffee. I drink a blend of flavored coffee and black coffee.
I brought home a cup one day, and measured what the amount of liquid it was to reach the bottom of the yellow line.
Now, I drink my coffee in peace knowing its accurately tracked and can get it on the go.
But what if your plate is too big for your scale and covers the display?
Put a cup on the scale, and put your plate on the cup. It gets the plate away from the display and with that magical tare button, has no effect on weighing! I often will find myself just weighing things in a large plastic tumbler cup versus a bowl for this same reason.
It is important to keep in mind that the entirety of what you are weighing should be on the scale. When weighing a bagel, I use the cup method also. If part of it is off of the scale portion, you won’t get an accurate result. By using a cup, you eliminate this error. And, like above, with your bagel on a cup and your scale tared back to zero, you can put your cream cheese or peanut butter directly onto your bagel. No measuring out tablespoons, no extra dishes, just a quick easy method to know exactly how much you are getting.
DO YOU WEIGH MEATS COOKED OR UNCOOKED?
The correct answer is ….it depends.
I use cooked weight for whole cuts of meat like chicken and beef, and uncooked weight for ground meat.
For food safety, I don’t like raw meat on the scale. When ground meat is weighed it is weighed in a bowl that has been zeroed.
I find that it’s much easier to not have to keep track of what chicken breast is “yours” and for things like a tri-tip roast or other things that need to rest, its not always possible to portion before you cook.
This way too if my protein adds up differently than I thought, its really easy to adjust for after the fact.
Taking away or adding two ounces of cooked chicken is much easier than trying to calculate ratios of cooked to uncooked after the fact.
With ground meat, there is no reliable method to figure out how much the difference in weight is due to moisture loss, fat loss, etc.
If there is uncertainty I ere on the side of overestimating.
With cooked ground meat, there is uncertainty, so I just go with full uncooked facts.
If its peak week and you need to be more accurate, switch to 99% lean ground meat so cook off is not a worry.
When baking, I also rely on weight versus volume.
What is the difference between a cup of brown sugar or a cup of packed brown sugar?
Is my packed cup the same as your packed cup?
How about flour?
Do you scoop from the bowl or spoon into the measuring cup?
Don’t stress or worry about it, and just go with weight.
When we bake bread, the recipe calls for 3 cups.
We zero the bowl, add 3 cups, and just record whatever the weight is for calculating macros per serving later.
I adjust the water if needed to get the consistency I want with the dough and if for some reason you do need to add more flour, you can zero out the entire bowl to weigh the new addition.
PRECISION OF THE SCALE
Back to the 100g scale…
The 1000g scale is accurate to 0.1g. This is more than enough accuracy for anyone.
The 100g scale is accurate to 0.01g. I end up using the 100 g scale when weighing salt of potassium during peak week for a higher level of accuracy.
If you are competing, it may be worth the $10. They look identical, so put a piece of tape on it or otherwise mark it.
Its no fun scooping ice cream into a bowl only to have picked the wrong scale and have it read over limit.
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Hope this helps make your day and tracking a bit easier! We’d love to hear any questions or feedback you have, as well as about any hacks or tips that you have found with your scale or weighing food.
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