How much food is enough?

Preparing food for large groups can be challenging if you haven’t much experience in quantity cooking. The toughest question is “How much food is enough?”

 

There’s no simple formula available to provide the answer because many factors make a difference in how much your guests will eat. General portion suggestions for many foods are provided here, but keep in mind they are just a place to start. You’ll need to adjust these figures due to a number of considerations:

  • More men in attendance than women will mean larger portions.
  • Children eat smaller portions than adults.
  • Rich food is more filling so you’ll need less of it.
  • A longer party requires more food than a shorter event.
  • Parties held near mealtimes have hungrier guests.
  • With more options available, guests will generally have less of each item, but…
  • With more options available, guests will generally eat more in total.
  • If serving Hors D’oeuvres before a meal, guests will usually have six bites.
  • If Hors D’oeuvres are the meal, plan on 4-6 bites per guest per hour. The more guests and the longer they will be visiting, the more options you should have available.
  • If serving more than one dessert option, reduce the expected portion of each by less than half.

 

How much do I need?

Guests  Cold Cuts  Cheese  Salad Bread Rolls Desserts

4

1 lb 1/2 lb 1 lb 1 loaf 4-8 3/4 lb
8 2 lbs 1 lb 2 lbs 2 loaves 8-16 1 1/2 lbs
10 2 1/2 lbs 1 1/4 lbs  2 1/2 lbs  2 loaves  10-20  2 lbs
15 3 3/4 lbs 2 lbs  3 3/4 lbs 3 loaves 15-30  3 lbs
20 5 lbs 2 1/2 lbs  5 lbs 3 loaves  20-40 3 3/4 lbs
25 6 1/4 lbs 3 lbs 6 1/4 lbs 4 loaves 25-50 4 3/4 lbs
30  7 1/2 lbs 3 3/4 lbs 7 1/2 lbs 5 loaves 30-60  5 3/4 lbs
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