Guess-timate Restaurant Portion Sizes

When dining out the food portions are often gigantic. Here's how to size up your entrée.
Published December 29, 2016

These days, it's no secret that restaurants are drawing in customers with oversize entrées and towering desserts. Two-and-a-half-pound deli sandwiches and six-cup bowls of spaghetti seem practically the norm. How can you figure out "normal" portion sizes and avoid eating enough for a family of four?

Use the following guidelines to help determine the size of meals at your favourite restaurants.

At an Italian restaurant
Figuring out whether the standard serving of one cup of pasta lies under all that sauce can be tricky, especially when most restaurant portions are more than three times that amount. A portion the size of an average fist is the equivalent of 1 cup of pasta.

At the steakhouse
Since most steakhouses serve you more meat than you can wrangle up in one meal, setting aside leftovers should not be that tricky. A piece the size of your thumb (from tip to base) equals an ounce, while a three-ounce portion is the size of a palm (minus the fingers). A deck of cards is another good "visual equivalent" of three ounces of meat.

At the bar
Nuts and pretzels go down mighty easy while the wine and conversation are flowing. Keep track of your consumption by remembering that a small cupped hand is the equivalent of approximately one ounce, and a large cupped hand equals two ounces.

At the Chinese restaurant
Steamed white rice is a perfect accompaniment to a Chinese meal. To determine a one-cup portion of rice, think of a tennis ball.

At the fish restaurant
Since fish is thinner than steak, it may be harder to determine the number of ounces in a portion. Think of your checkbook to size up three ounces of thin fish.

Keeping Track: Use Your Hand for Portion Sizes