You may remember seeing your Mom cooking a great meal without measuring a thing. I do. You may even have old recipes that call for a “handful” or a “chunk” of a food instead of more precise measurements because Mom knew how much a cup or 4 ounces were just by eyeballing the amount. Actually, if I look in my cooking books I am sure I still can find some of those.

But if you were not born knowing what 3 ounces of chicken looks like, like in my case, it is better to use the proper utensils to get the correct amounts in a recipe. If you are baking, a little more or less of an ingredient can really make the difference on the final product.

How many tablespoons in a cup?

Measuring cups come in different sizes. They usually start at ¼ cup and going up to 1 cup. You can also find sets that give you a 2/3 cup and ¾ cup. Here are some common measurements for dry ingredients.

  • 3 teaspoons (tsp) = 1 tablespoon (Tbsp)
  • 4 Tbsp = ¼ cup (c.)
  • 5 1/3 Tbsp = 1/3 c.
  • 8 Tbsp = ½ c.
  • 12 Tbsp = ¾ c.
  • 16 Tbsp = 1 c.
  • 16 (dry) ounces (oz.) = 1 pound (lb.) = 455 grams

Liquid measurements

To measure liquids use the liquid measuring cup, the one with the little spout to make pouring easier. The liquid level should be right on the marking lines. Here are some measurements for liquid ingredients:

  • 8 fluid ounces (fl. oz.) = 1 cup (c.) = 250 milliliters = ¼ liter
  • 16 fl. oz. = 2 c. = 1 pint (pt.) = ½ liter
  • 32 fl. oz. = 4 c. = 2 pt. = 1 quart (qt.) = 1 liter
  • 64 fl. oz. = 8 c. = 4 pt. = 2 qt. = ½ gallon (gal.) = 2 liters
  • 128 fl. oz. = 4 qt. = 1 gal. = 4 liters

Weight to liquid conversion

Measuring weight and volume can be confusing because liquid ounces are not the same as dry ounces. Here are some guidelines that will help you:

  • ¼ cup of oil measures 2 fluid ounces (liquid) but weighs 1½ ounces.
  • ½ cup of shredded cheese also weighs 2 ounces (dry), not 4 ounces as you may think because of the previous example.
  • ½ cup of puffed rice cereal measures the same volume as ½ cup of peanut butter, but they don’t weigh the same.

When you are reading a recipe

  • If the ingredient is a solid food, like pasta or meat, and the amount is in ounces, it is weight. Use the kitchen scale.
  • If the ingredient is a solid food, like pasta or meat, and the amount is in cups, it is a volume measurement. Use measuring cups.
  • If the ingredient is a liquid and the amount is in ounces, it is fluid ounces, not weight. Use the liquid measuring cup.

A food scale can be very useful

Although you may think that weighing your food is a bummer, a food scale can help you in a lot of areas. Nowadays you have a large variety of food scales at department stores that can provide you not only with the weight of a food but they can also provide you with nutrition information as well. You can enter the code for the food and the scale gives you the calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and maybe other nutrients depending on the program.

This feature is especially useful to know how many calories you are eating in foods that don’t come with nutrition labels. Let us take grapes for example. How many grapes are in a cup? Well, that depends on the size of the grapes. How about an apple? Do you know when it is a small, medium or large one and how many calories are in it? Because many of us underestimate the sizes, this type of scale can be a great help, instead of guessing.

Bottom line….

Not all of us enjoy cooking, but having the appropriate utensils can help us staying longer in the kitchen and prepare foods at home. I always say that when we cook at home we have control of the quality and amount of the food we eat. Eating out is okay here and there, but when we do, we never know exactly what we are putting in our stomachs.


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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