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Everybody is different - simple hacks for serving perfect food portions

Everybody is different - simple hacks for serving perfect food portions

Using our portion calculator is quick, simple, and easy.

A note of caution – everybody is different! So please use a common-sense approach when using the planner, taking into account nutritional advice and any special diets you may have been prescribed by registered health professionals.

Who is average?

The serving sizes in the planner show the quantity of each food an ‘average-sized’ person should eat. Use your judgement about the people that you buy food for, or prepare meals for, e.g. smaller vs taller people etc. We all have different nutritional needs depending on our age and level of daily activity.

‘Me-sized’ meals for children

A term used to describe portions for children is ’Me-sized’ meals. This simply means adapting an ‘average-sized’ portion to suit your child e.g. are they active, taller or smaller for their age etc. The recommendation is to serve children small amounts at mealtimes geared to their size and if they are still hungry then they’ll ask for more.

Thinking of serving sizes in terms of ‘Me-sized’ could also apply to adults too! Don’t be tempted to guess or overestimate. Once you get used to what healthy serving sizes are, they’ll soon become second nature. There is some useful guidance on the NHS Live Well site.

Changing the social norm

We know that life isn’t always straight forward and there are lots of things that influence what we do, even if we don’t consciously think about it.

Some of these things affect how much food we are conditioned to believe we should serve which, more often than not, results in leftover food with a lot of it heading straight for bin.

Do some of these ring a bell with you?

  • ‘I want my guests to feel that there is plenty on the table to eat’,

  • ‘People might think that I’m skimping if I don’t serve lots of food’,

  • ‘I don’t want my family going hungry’ and so on.

It will take time to change these social norms to ones that reflect reality – we don’t need to eat as much food as we think we do.

Simple easy things to try

We all need to start somewhere and here are some easy things you can do today:

  • Use smaller plates at mealtimes – the healthy serving-sized meals are likely to fill these smaller plates so this helps to recondition our minds to what a healthy serving size really is.

  • Why not use our portion calculator? You’ll easily discover how much you should actually be eating vs what you might have been serving at mealtimes – and encourage your family to use the planner too!

  • ‘High-five’ a day challenge – we know you all like a bit of a competition so why not challenge your family or housemates to see who can eat at least five fruit and vegetable portions a day for say a week or a month?

    • Kids would love a ‘high-five’ at the end of each day that they achieve this and seeing mum and dad in on the action will help keep them motivated. 

    • A little extra incentive would help too like a prize at the end of the week or month for the winner! If you live with housemates, maybe the loser makes dinner for everyone else?

  • Food waste hero – you could also run a competition to see who wastes the least amount of edible food!

    • Get the kids involved and make it fun with a reward at the end.

    • They could be creative and draw/paint a chart to track your progress.

  • Get wise about the facts – learn more about healthy eating for your family by visiting websites such as Eatwell which also includes the Eatwell Guide. Many families are already regularly visiting the sites – are you?

  • Sewing the seed – tell your friends and family about what you have learnt about healthy eating and why it matters – you may be pleasantly surprised by how interested they are in the subject, and by how little some of them may know. Think of the difference you could make to the people you care about, by simply starting the conversation! 

  • Don’t panic about leftover food while you are working it all out. It’ll take time to readjust your daily serving sizes so you are bound to be generating leftover food. Don’t panic, there are lots of things you can do – freeze it, combine it with other ingredients to create a new dish the following day, learn how to use up your food, share the food with your neighbours and so on.

Our portion calculator will provide you with guidance on how much food you need for each person, for each meal. It’s simple to use as we’ve calculated the typical serving sizes for you!

A black bowl of dried rice being measured on a digital food scale. The screen says 100g.

Getting the serving size right for children using 'me-sized' meals.

A young child makes a funny face while biting into a burger.

Look after yourself and those you care about by getting the healthy serving size right.

A white bowl full of uncooked pasta on a silver digital food scale, laid on a striped tablecloth.