Catering Tips: How Much Food is Enough for Your Event?

by Clinton on June 23, 2010 Filed under Catering Tips

Catering Tips - How Much Food is Enough

The guests have been invited and the RSVP slips are in. Now that you have a final count and know the number of guests to expect, how much food do you need to order to satisfy them all?

The question is worthy of some consideration. No host wants to be in the embarrassing situation of having run out of food. Neither is it good to over-order, over-pay, and have to throw out leftovers – or find people not too stuffed to refuse to take home a ‘doggy’ bag.

Good Preparation is Very Important

Many factors should be weighed when deciding on the right amount of food for your event. Of course, first you must know the number of people attending. However, the length of the event is also very important, as is the type of event and the type of food you plan to serve.

For example, an evening cocktail party requires considerably less food than an entire afternoon or all-day event. The longer guests remain, the more they’ll consume. It’s funny, but over time people get hungry and thirsty over and over again.

When estimating, always round up to be on the safe side. Some will eat more, others less. It will all balance out in the end. Try to anticipate which foods/drinks are most popular and will disappear quickly. Order more of these selections.

Keep in mind that having a myriad of different food options means that you should serve them in smaller portions. People will want to try a little of everything, so you can offer bite-sized portions and they’ll still have sufficient.

Quick Catering Guidelines for Every Event

Appetizers:

  • If you’re having just an evening function with no dinner, plan on at least 10 – 15 pieces per person. Round up, especially if it’s going to be served buffet style, as people tend to eat more than if a tray is passed.
  • If you’re serving pre-dinner appetizers, plan on 3 – 5 pieces per person, and choose lighter food options, as dinner will follow.
  • If you’re having a mid-day function with a meal following, offer 1 – 3 pieces per person.

Beverages:

  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person, with coffee drinkers consuming on average one cup every 1.3 hours.

Breakfast:

  • People usually drink 2 beverages on average – either juice, coffee, tea, etc.
  • Plan on a main entrée (about 5 oz.) per person, along with two sides, including bread. Fruit makes an excellent breakfast dessert. Estimate about 3 – 5 pieces of cut fruit per person, or one cup or less of fruit salad.
  • If you’re serving pastries only, plan on 2 pieces per person.

Lunch:

  • For hors d’oeuvres, plan on 2 – 4 per person.
  • Offer a main entrée (about 5 oz.) with 2 – 3 sides, including a starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks, including pop, beer, lemon water, etc.
  • If you’re having sandwiches, allow for 1 -2 per person.

Dinner:

  • Have 3 – 5 hors d’oeuvres per person, depending on the number of courses.
  • Plan on a main entrée (5 – 7 oz.) and 2 – 3 sides, either veggies, beans, pasta, etc.
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.

Desserts:

  • Plan on 1 – 3 servings per person.
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart or pastry, or 4 oz. of a creamy dessert, i.e. mousse. If you have a large variety, serve smaller portions.
  • Coffee consumption peeks after dessert is served.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ladyironchef June 25, 2010 at 7:44 am

thanks for the great catering advise :)

2 Clinton June 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

Thank you for the comment – We have much more to come!

3 Mellisa August 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

It is very necessary to have a proper estimation of the number of guests that have been invited at the function or a party. It will help to avoid the embarrassing situation of running short of food. One should keep an arrangement of some extra amount of food and drinks beforehand, so as to avoid an odd situation in future.

Mellisa

4 Clinton August 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

Thanks for the great tips Mellisa! You never want to be caught running out of food. Especially for a wedding or a dinner party! Having a little extra is always a good policy.

5 Cynthia January 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

How many kilos of mixed frozen veg will I need for 32 people to accompany a shepherds pie please?

6 Cherie Schafer March 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I have a catering request for just desserts for 70 people! I have baked and cooked all my life! Just recently started selling baked goods! I have had a very good response. Although I have have cooked for large crowds , such as BBQ’s, Party.s ect…I’m a little nervous about 70 people! I would like to know how many different desserts should I have and How much per person, and a price??? I really don ‘t know where to start? Any advice that you could share would be GREATLY appreciated.

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