I am trying to lose weight.

No, scratch that: I am losing weight. And one thing everyone knows is important when you’re trying to lose weight is portion control. But one of the things that has always stymied me is recipe yields, especially when using my favourite kitchen appliances: my slow cookers.

Now I know that my crocks are 4, 5, and 6 quarts – but is that all the way to the top? And besides, you never fill it to the top, and I have a hard time eyeballing these things.  If I’m going to go to the trouble of journalling, I’d like to know that the numbers are right, especially for a dish that I’ll be having for at least 4 meals.

I’ve tried measuring everything as it comes out of the pot, I’ve tried dumping it all into a big measuring bowl before anyone is allowed to touch it. Pain. in. the. butt.

It was time for a new kitchen gadget. Tada!

Yup, a ruler! Stolen from the office, so didn’t cost a cent. Well, it did at some point I suppose.

Now just to clarify, I stole it from our home office. Just realized that looked kinda bad. After all, who would steal office supplies from work? Shameful.

So, like, anyways

Here’s what I did:

  1. Dump 8 cups of water into the crock.
  2. Dip a wooden spoon, pull it out and hold it against the ruler.
  3. Dump in more water, two cups at a time, until I had something like this:

2" = 8 cups
2 1/2" = 10 cups
3" = 12 cups
3 1/4" = 14 cups
3 5/8" = 16 cups
4" = 18 cups
4 3/8" = 20 cups
4 3/4" = 22 cups

See how the deltas get shorter as you work your way up the pot? The sides aren’t straight up and down, making it harder to eyeball it.

Besides, I’m picky.

So, with that done, it was dead-easy to figure out how much Beef Mole we had tonight:

A few other ways I’ve been trying to keep a handle on portions:

  • My serving of hummus or tzaziki gets served in a measuring cup, right there at the table. Not exactly classy, but it works.
  • We all use small plates now. The big plates only come out for corn on the cob and fajitas – and when they do they’re so…. big! It’s weird.
  • Given the option, I’ll make something in muffin trays instead of a loaf pan. Of course, then I eat 3 muffins – but at least I know how much I ate.

Oh, and that ruler? Also handy for cases like these, when I sure as heck don’t trust myself to just ‘eyeball it’.

How do you control portions?