Member Login
Follow Us

Estimating Serving Sizes Using Common Household Items

Maggie LaBarbera • RN, MBA • Jun 13, 2012

Serving the proper portions or servings just takes a little practice.  Measuring and weighing foods are the best way to know exactly what you are serving, but very impractical.

Here are some regular household items that you can use to quickly estimate the portion you are putting on your plate.  This is very helpful so you can see how the portion you were served measures to a normal serving from the food groups.

estimating portion sizes


This is great little chart that you can share with the kids.  You can even make it a little game!

Serving Size Reference Chart By Food Group

Tips on how to visually estimate 1 serving size

Grains Group

1 ounce. bread or 1 slice of bread

1 CD case

10 French fries

1 deck of cards

½ cup cooked rice or pasta

1 computer mouse or rounded handful

½ cup of cereal 1/2 a baseball
1 ounce pretzels 1 tennis ball
1 cup of air popcorn 1 baseball


Vegetables Group

1 cup raw leafy vegetables

1 baseball

½ cup vegetables

1 computer mouse

1 small potato 1 computer mouse


Fruit Group

1 medium fruit such as an apple or an orange

1 tennis ball or the size of your fist

1 cup of berries 1 tennis ball or the size of your a adult female fist

¾ cup juice

6 ounce juice can or carton (1 ½ servings)

½ cup chopped or canned fruit

1 computer mouse


Milk and Milk Products Group

1 ounce cheese

1 pair of dice or the size of your thumb or tube of lipstick

1 ounce slice of cheese 1 CD case

1 ½ ounces Cheddar cheese

2 (9-volt) batteries

1 cup of milk

8 ounce carton of milk or a baseball

8 ounces yogurt

1 baseball or tennis ball


 Protein Group

1 ounce of meat or chicken 1 matchbook

3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry

1 deck of cards (3 servings) or iPod

3 ounces of fish fillet 1 checkbook (3 servings)

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

1 ping–pong ball (2 servings)

2 tablespoons of hummus 1 ping–pong ball (2 servings)

½ cup cooked beans

1 baseball (2 servings)

1/4 cup of nuts

1 golf ball


Fats and Condiments
1 teaspoon of olive oil 1 Die or fingertip
1 Tablespoon of  mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise  Thumb










See All Our Nutrition Articles

Written by Maggie LaBarberaWritten on Jun 13, 2012Last updated on Mar 26, 2014




The photos displayed on this website were purchased legally from,, and All clipart displayed on this website is the exclusive property of