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May 2, 2010 11:10 PM

following cookbook recipes

if a recipes says it serves x people do you believe it
i don't if it says serves 4 i always increase the ingred. to 6 servings for us 4 people . not that we are doubling or tripling it to eat like gluttons but i find many recipes a tad short do you agree or not

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  1. I agree. I always double the recipe, especially if it says "serves 4", just so there is leftovers. Besides, how big the portions are, is dependent upon your family.
    Do they eat like canaries or like eagles?

    1. Most recipes are based on a generally accepted rule of what a serving size is; there are standardized serving sizes for meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, dairy, fats, starches and on, according to the FDA's Food Pyramid Guide, for maintaining a nutritious, healthy diet within a set range of daily caloric intake, according to various factors. Hopefully most cookbook authors pay attention to these standards; it seems the current trend in the US is to base the recipe yield on a larger portion per person than is recommended by the USDA, not only in restaurant portion sizes but in cookbook recipes as well. With obesity and the ensuing health issues weighing heavily on the American public, no pun intended, I hope this trend will be reversed. More complete or better cookbooks will often have serving size info listed in the introductory info at the beginning of the book, and will have based their recipes on those serving sizes, as well as using standardized recipes; that is, the recipe has been tested for consistency of product and yield.

      Joy of Cooking has a "serving size" table, included in the most recent edition, with the usual caveat: people generally tend to eat more than the accepted serving size.

      I'm not a big eater, so I go with the "serves 4" description and we usually have leftovers. The whole thing depends on how much you eat, what the recipe is for, etc., lots of variables. The serving size issue is quite subjective, but there are certain set standards. Helpful, huh? Truth be told, I can eat a lot more bbq ribs than what the typical cookbook recipe serving size calls for. It's ribs, after all.

      1. Yes, in general, I believe it, except for cookies. Yields 48 cookies always mean about 36 for me. I like my cookies large!

        1. Have you noticed a trend in cookbooks? Old cookbooks from the forties, fifties, and sixties have much bigger portions than modern cookbooks. A "serves four" from an old cookbook is about the same as a "serves 6" from a modern cookbook. Also, old cookbooks call for you to cook meats, fish and vegetables to much higher temperatures and for much longer than more modern cookbooks call for.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gfr1111

            Yes, people used to chow down back in the day, with fairly high caloric intake, up until the '60's when the food we ate started the downward slide toward less healthy. Interesting though, not much of an issue with obesity back then. Less sitting in front of the TV or computer then and much more exercise, to say nothing of the no processed, little HFCS, virtually unknown fast food diets of the day.

            What people eat is a device that's in a constant state of flux. As I wrote in my post upthread, there seems to be a trend in cookbook recipes back to larger portions, possibly an emotional response to the difficult times we live in. We just eat too much, portion size-wise, in this country. It's truly is a good thing to be aware of what a portion size actually is:


            Cooking styles and what we eat has certainly have changed as well since the '60's; we use a much lighter hand when cooking vegetables; the variety of fruits and vegetables available to and of interest to us has exploded in the last 15-20 years, as we've gone global; there's much more of an interest in incorporating a variety of whole grains into the diet, and vegetarian/flexatarian diets are mainsteam now. Not so when I was a kid in the 60's. We tend not to cook proteins to death anymore, either. That's the good news.

          2. depends, I'll usually look at the amounts called for and make my own call.

            At least, the books I use, I feel like "serves 4" means it serves 6, and "serves 6" means 8.