For more information about the understandings, essential questions, and alignment of this lesson to National Health Education Standards, State Standards, please visit our website, www.roadoflife.org



•1-cup measuring cup

•Regulation-sized baseball (not a softball)

•1-cup serving of a fruit or vegetable

*These items will also be needed for the estimating exercise.


Review from Reading Nutrition Labels what a serving and a serving size are. If the aforementioned lesson has not been done, then a serving or a serving size may be a new concept for your students. The definitions are:

Serving = one portion or helping of food that is eaten at one sitting or at one time.

Serving Size = is the amount of a particular food that equals one serving

Do the students recall how a serving size varies for different foods? A quick and easy way to explain that a serving size varies is to describe a nutrition label. All foods that come in boxes, bottles, wrappers or other packages always have a nutrition label on them that will tell you this information. How do you know what a serving size is for foods that do not come in packages with nutrition labels on them (i.e., fresh fruits)?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a serving size for fruits and vegetables is one cup. The 1-cup measuring cup should be displayed at this point in the discussion. One serving of fruit or vegetables would fit into the measuring cup. (You may wish to cut up fruit and put it in the measuring cup to let students see what constitutes a serving.)

What if you do not have a measuring cup? How could the students estimate a serving? One cup of fruit or vegetables is roughly equal to the size of a baseball. Show the students what a baseball looks like. What is an estimate?

Estimate = an approximate judgment of (in this case) a serving size

How many servings of fruits and vegetables should you eat in one day? Health experts say that you should try to eat 5 to 9 servings per day. This does not mean you need to eat 5 to 9 servings all at one time. The servings can and should be spread out throughout the day. They should be incorporated into all of your meals, including snacks.

How do you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables are in the foods that you eat? You can use two methods: Conversion and estimation. Use the next two learning activities to demonstrate each method.

Learning Activity: Converting a recipe into servings


•Worksheet with recipe and questions, one per student or group (or a transparency that has the recipe and questions)



  1. Explain to students that one way of finding out how many fruit and vegetable servings you get from a food is to convert the recipe into cups, since we know that one serving = one cup.
  2. Either individually, in groups or as a class, use the recipe on the worksheet to calculate how many servings of fruits and vegetables are in the recipe and then how many servings are in one serving size of the recipe. *The Summer Salad recipe is easier than the Vegetable Lasagna recipe. You may want to go through the Summer Salad recipe together as a whole class and then have the students work on the Vegetable Lasagna recipe individually or as homework.
  3. To calculate:

•Identify what ingredients in the recipe are fruits or vegetables.

•Convert the fruit and vegetable amounts into cups.

•Add the total number of cups of fruits and vegetables.

•Divide by the number of servings the recipe makes. Your answer is the number of cups of fruits and vegetables in one serving of the recipe.

•Explain to students that this method works best before you have the actual food in front of you, when you are getting ready to eat. You need to have a recipe to use this method.

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