Measuring tips for ‘perfect portioning’ when cooking pasta and rice

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Reducing your food portions for weight loss is just one reason to get better at weighing out ingredients in the kitchen, and you don’t even need scales to do it. But with endless tips and tricks out there to follow, it can be hard to tell the accurate measuring hacks from those that aren’t so reliable. Food blogger Elizabeth Atia has shared two tried-and-tested techniques to master your serving sizes for pasta and rice.

Naturally, your food portions will vary dependent on your ultimate goal weight. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll need to eat slightly smaller portions; if it’s weight maintenance you’re after, you can stick to the average recommendations for your gender.

According to the British Nutrition foundation, if you really want to measure portion size accurately the best way is to weigh your food, but you can use kitchen utensils or even your hand for an accurate estimate.

When it comes to pasta, in particular, spaghetti, Elizabeth recommended comparing the measurement to the size of a 1p coin.

She said: “An average single portion of spaghetti should easily be able to fill up the space of a one penny coin. This weighs between 70-80g for dried or 100-110g for fresh pasta per person.”

In the interests of food hygiene, it is best not to place the spaghetti on the coin, though you can hover it just above in your hand to see how it compares to the diameter.

If you don’t have a coin, you can use your index finger and thumb instead. Do this by making a circle with your finger and thumb.

Shrink it small enough until it is roughly the size of a 1p coin. Then, push the pasta in between your fingers, and whatever fits is equivalent to a single serving. Repeat as many times as necessary to cater for more than one person. 

Elizabeth noted that if you do find yourself with an excess of cooked pasta, you can always freeze it. Simply rinse it with cold water, drain it, and place it in a container suitable for freezing.

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For smaller pasta shapes like rigatoni and macaroni, the palm of your hand is all you need to measure one portion.

Pour enough dry pasta into your hand to fill it, ensuring that you can still close your fist. When you can no longer do so, you’ll know you have measured too much.

If you have a new box of pasta and no way of measuring it out, you can divide it into the number of suggested servings on the packaging instead.

Pour the dry shapes into separate containers, filling each one with equal amounts. 

When it comes to rice, “one cup” is said to make enough cooked rice for two to three adult servings, or two adults and two small children.

However, this can be quite ambiguous if you don’t have a measuring container and are catering for just one person.

According to Elizabeth, an average single portion of rice is measured by filling a small yoghurt pot (60-90g) with uncooked rice.

If you struggle with measuring water quantities for rice, you can try another simple hack. Simply add the rice to a pan making sure it is level and place your index finger on top. Pour in some cold water until it hits your first knuckle and cook as normal.

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, “sensible” single serving sizes for common ingredients are as follows:

  • Two handfuls of dried pasta shapes or rice (75g)
  • A bunch of spaghetti the size of a £1 coin, measured using your finger and thumb (75g)
  • The amount of cooked pasta or rice that would fit in two hands cupped together (180g)
  • A baked potato about the size of your fist (220g)
  • About three handfuls of breakfast cereal (40g)
  • A piece of grilled chicken breast about the size of your whole hand (120g)
  • A piece of cheddar cheese about the size of two thumbs together (30g)
  • About one tablespoon of peanut butter (20g)
  • About three teaspoons of soft cheese (30g)

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