A New Year's resolution to lose weight and establish healthy habits may seem to demand a pricey diet plan. But there's a simpler -- and cheaper -- approach: portion control. As portion sizes in America have increased over the past few decades, so have rates of obesity and related health problems. A key part of maintaining a healthy weight is eating right-sized meals that meet daily caloric requirements. Cheapism.com has rounded up a variety of portion control tools that measure recommended serving sizes for frugal dieters seeking a helping hand.
8 Portion-Control Tools to Help You Slim Down for Less
For consumers who dine at home and share entrees family-style, this portion-control tool measures food right on the plate. The four sections follow the USDA's recommended serving sizes for fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein. (There are also halfway markers inside the cups.) Hundreds of reviewers posting on Amazon rate this tool 4.2 stars overall, and many comment that they didn't realize how much they were overeating until they tried this tool. It comes in blue, yellow, or red and is dishwasher-safe.
This portion-control tool is designed for on-the-go assistance. The six rings, which measure out exact portions from 1 to 8 ounces, nest inside each other and fit easily into a purse or backpack. The rings are dishwasher-safe and come with a nutrition and meal-planning guide that includes calorie counts for more than 500 foods.
Prepping and bringing lunch to work saves calories and money compared with eating out at restaurants with large portion sizes. The Laptop Lunches Portion Perfect Bento Box simplifies that effort. Inside are removable compartments that hold measured portions of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits, as well as healthy fats such as salad dressing (three of the containers have lids). Laptop Lunches also offers a free Lunch Ideas app and menu suggestions. The lunchbox is American-made and dishwasher-safe.
The leafy-vine design on these porcelain bowls subtly measures out 4-, 8-, 12-, and 16-ounce portions of cereal, soup, and more while looking stylish enough for the dining table. The measurements reflect guidelines set by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association. The set comes with a portion-control and menu-planning guide that doubles as a placemat. The company sells a variety of other portion-control dishware and glasses, including compostable bamboo dishes and plates with lids for travel.
BlueAvocado reusable storage bags are designed to help you take along individual portions of healthful snacks wherever you go. They come in a range of sizes and present a green alternative to plastic bags. Each bag has a double-lock seal, is freezer-safe, and contains no BPA or PVC. Tote around nuts, dried fruit, or raw veggies, to name just a few diet-friendly options.
Pasta is one of those foods that are easy to overeat. Dole out the correct size for a single serving of noodles with this dishwasher-safe pasta basket. You can dunk the silicone basket right into a pot of boiling water to cook one portion, or use several to prepare a family meal. The basket also can be used to steam vegetables or fish.
Kids are notoriously obstinate when it comes to eating all their fruits and vegetables. The MyPlate Section Plate encourages children to consume a balanced diet. It comes in two styles: one with three sections and one with four. Either way, about half the plate is designated for fruits and vegetables. The remainder is divided into sections for whole grains (one-third cup) and protein (one-quarter cup) -- serving sizes in line with USDA recommendations for ages 2 to 8.The plate is dishwasher-safe and BPA-free.
Even the thrifty tools on this list are unnecessary if you know a few tricks for gauging proper portion size. Men's Health matches a range of foods with everyday objects that approximate one serving. Any beef on your plate should be no bigger than a deck of cards, for example, and a single serving of ice cream is about the size of a tennis ball.