How to Use a Food Scale

Alongside measuring cups and spoons, a food scale is a great tool for portion control, calorie counting, and better nutrition. Learning how to use a food scale can assist in weight loss so you know exactly how much you are eating, and how much to record. You can weigh food before or after cooking to see how it measures in both states.


What is a food scale?

A food scale is exactly in the name — a scale for weighing food. Food scales are best for weighing meat and cheese. A serving of meat should be 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of cheese should be between 1 and 1.5 ounces.

Although cups are best for rice, cereal, and fruit, you can use a scale for those foods too. Just don’t use a scale for liquid, of course. Any label stating the servings in tablespoons or milliliters require measuring cups or spoons. Perhaps you want to get comfortable with other equipment for measuring food before considering a food scale.

Dieticians highly recommend food scales to learn about portions. A common pitfall in weight loss and proper nutrition is over-eating. Using a scale will get your diet back on track, since you know exactly how much you are eating. If small enough, you can take these scales along when you travel and measure food in your hotel room to avoid derailing your diet.

Food scales aren’t strictly for weight loss though. In fact, Cooking Light, the popular magazine and website, now measures flour by weight. They claim a kitchen scale is a smart tool for measuring accurately (and in baking, correct measurements are a must) and achieving photo-worthy results in recipes.


Select the type of food scale you want to use.

There are dozens of options for food scales, but not all food scales are the same. A digital scale gives exact measurements on its own, whereas scales that include springs and weight includes a bit of work. Food scales may be expensive depending on its model and additional features, so keep searching until you find one in your budget.

Food scales can be found in stores like Target or online on sites like Amazon. According to the top ten reviews in 2018, the Ozeri Touch II and Kalorik Digital Scale are the best picks. Look at elements such as price, usability, design and warranty, and measurement units to choose your ideal scale.


Read the manual.

Don’t throw away that sheet of paper! More advanced scales require more instructions. Read over the manual at least twice to understand the exact way to use your scale.

Keep it to the side just in case you need to refer back to it at any point. Make sure to keep it away from the sink or spills. Once you think you know and thus can apply the information, store the manual somewhere safe.


Zero out the scale.

Before weighing food, make sure the scale is at zero. If your scale is showing a number other than zero before you begin, you are going to get an inaccurate measurement. Digital scales just need a push of a button to turn on and show zero. More manual scales, such as ones with springs and weights, you may need to turn a knob to zero.


Weigh the container or bowl for the food.

In order to receive the most accurate weight, you need to know the weight of the container of bowl. Then subtract that number from the number the scale gives you upon adding food to it. This answer is the actual weight. Also figure out the weight of a piece of paper towel, because you never want to put certain foods, such as raw meat, on top of the scale on its own.

Sometimes this step isn’t necessary. Certain scales may automatically account for a container or bowl. Again, attend to the manual to see if this criteria applies, and how to use this feature if applicable.


Place food in the container on the scale.

If you’re using a spring or weight scale, give a few seconds for the scale to settle before looking at the number. On a digital scale, the weight will be displayed instantly. Other steps for the display should be found in the manual, such as the units of measurements, brightness, etc. Be patient for the number, especially if it’s the first time you are using your food scale, and write down what you best see (this is obviously easier for a digital scale since the number is right there, but for manual ones, the exact numbers may be a bit harder to read).


Use the calculations from before.

Subtract the weight of the container and paper towel from the weight you see displayed. This should be the correct weight of the food on the scale. Be sure to use a calculator so you don’t have any errors. Write this weight down in your food journal for the portion and calories you are eating.


Properly sanitize and store.

If you wash your forks and knives, then you should wash your food scale. After each use, you should properly clean the top and sides of the scale. Be sure to clean the container or bowl as well. Use warm water and dish soap unless the manual demands otherwise.

Store your scale in the kitchen cupboard. A trick is to place the scale near items you use often, such as dishes and cups, so you are more conscious about it. Be sure to dust it off you don’t use it for a while.


Using a food scale is the number one best tool to ensure accuracy, control portions, and track calorie intake. Knowing how to use a food scale is important, and ensuring proper sanitization, just like any kitchen item, is also crucial. Even if you eventually stop using it, a food scale can teach you about proper serving sizes, and is worth the investment for a long-term nutritional lifestyle change.