I bake and cook a lot of food in general, but one problem I always seem to have is that I never have all of my measuring utensils with me. This presents some problems:

  • How much is a ounce, cup, pint etc?
  • Why not use other cups to measure? - How am I suppose to know the unit of measuring for every cup, bowl or spoon in my house?

I've tried using other utensils, but that hasn't really worked. It's also incredibly inconvenient to go to a store every time I don't have them.

Note that it doesn't have to be exact at the measuring, just close. Anyone that cooks knows that a extra bit of whatever doesn't really matter.

Is there a method for measuring ingredients without proper measuring equipment?

  • I feel like the first two points in "criteria for solutions" don't have to be mentioned in the question. You might try to clean up your question a bit as it has a bit of superfluous content Dec 25, 2014 at 22:04
  • Just a side note: And any baker knows that “a extra bit of whatever” can indeed matter a lot.
    – Stephie
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


Things that you can use:

There are many other such examples of basic portions. Use these especially if you have never seen some of these items. While this is suppose to be for managing your food portions it can be used for measuring.

  • Use your hands. This is especially good for measuring smaller amounts, like teaspoons and tablespoons. From sheknows.com:

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And for measuring the larger amounts:

We girls can fit a full 1/4 cup in the palm of our hands. And with up to 1/4 cup, we can measure anything. Need a cup of rice? Measure out four handfuls; it’s that easy. If you need a tablespoon, teaspoon or something similar, pay close attention the next time you measure something. Place it in the palm of your hand before adding it to whatever you’re cooking and notice how much space it takes up in your hand. When you need 1 tablespoon of turmeric, simply measure out three teaspoons in your hand.

But I don't know how useful this is depending on the size of the persons hand.

  • Many caps to food bottles are pre-measured you just have to know what it is. Like the cap to a Oil bottle might be 1 tablespoon or such.

Additional Info

  • Know from the size of the amount. You can learn to look at amounts of food measure and know their amount by measuring amounts of food and then studying the amount the size. Liquids can be measured like this as well.

  • I find this useful when measuring with different units of measurement. Know your Cooking Measurement Equivalents.

  • Having pre-measured ingredients stored in jars and bags can help avoid using measuring cups.

Using multiple methods at once can help the accuracy.


If you're willing to use one measuring instrument and accuracy is important, then you can convert all measurements to weights, using either a printed chart or a site such as this.

Then weigh them on a set of scales, cheap ones are fine. It's a bit more convoluted than iliveunderawesomerock's method, but more accurate too.


If you have a known weight of so many ounces or grams, you can weigh a quantity of another material, if it weighs between say 1/5 and 5 times the weight of your reference, by balancing the reference weight and the unknown weight on opposite ends of a ruler balanced on a pencil as a fulcrum.

Measure the ratio between the distances of the two centres of gravity from your fulcrum, and multiply the reference weight accordingly to get your wanted weight. Finding the two distances isn't difficult - just use the ruler!

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