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Rules of Thumb on Portion Size

Do This...To visualize this
measured amount...
Useful for these foods...
One first, Clenched
One First, Clenched
8 fl oz
  • Cold and hot beverages
Two Hands, Cupped
Two hands, cupped
1 cup
  • Breakfast cereal (flakes, fun shapes, and O's)
  • Soup
  • Green salads (lettuce or spinach)
  • Mixed dishes like chili, stew, macaroni & cheese
  • Chinese food
One hand, cupped
One hand, cupped
1/2 cup
  • Pasta, rice
  • Hot cereal (like oatmeal or farina)
  • Fruit salad, berries, applesauce
  • Tomato or spaghetti sauce
  • Beans (cooked or canned)
  • Coleslaw or potato salad
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pudding, gelatin
Plam of hand
Plam of hand
3 ounces
  • Cooked meats like hamburger patty, chicken breast, fish fillet, pork loin
  • Canned fish like tuna
Two thumbs together
Two Thumbs together
One tablespoon
  • Peanut butter
  • Salad dressing
  • Sour cream
  • Dips
  • Whipped topping
  • Dessert sauces
  • Margarine
  • Cream cheese
  • Mayonnaise

Note: Nutrition Facts serving sizes on product labels and Food Pyramid serving sizes may vary from the portion sizes estimated using this chart.

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