One of the most difficult parts of party planning is estimating the amount of food to serve. If you underestimate you run the risk of running out of food before all your guests get a chance to eat-never a good situation! If you overestimate you not only end up with unused and wasted party food, but wasted money as well. Here are some guidelines for estimating the amount of food to serve at your next party or event.
If you are serving a meal of heavy hors d’oeuvres plan on 10-15 pieces per guest. However, if you are serving your appetizers before a meal or in between courses you can plan on 3-6 pieces per guest. When serving fruit or vegetable trays plan on 2 trays per 25 guests.
When planning for a main course allow each guest 4-6 ounces of meat or pasta. If you are serving sandwiches plan on 1.5 servings per guest.
Soups, Sides, Salads and Breads
If serving both a soup and a salad prepare 1 cup per guest. If you are planning on other side dishes 1.5 cups per guest is a safe estimate. For breads assume each guest will eat 1-2 pieces.
When serving cake assume each guest will eat one slice, for cupcakes plan on 1.5 per guest. If you are serving cookies have 3 cookies per guest on hand. For other desserts plan on one piece for larger servings and 2-3 for small desserts.
Drinks are one of the most difficult parts of the menu to estimate but a good rule of thumb is for alcoholic drinks prepare for each guest drinking 1.5 drinks per hour. Using this calculation a four hour party with 25 guests would serve 150 drinks.
(1.5 drinks x 4 hours x 25 guests)
This may seem like a lot but it’s better to overestimate-nothing ends a party sooner than running out of alcohol! Also plan on serving 2 gallons of non-alcoholic beverages (punch, tea, lemonade) per 25 guests as well.
For parties serving no alcoholic drinks plan on 4 gallons for every 25 guests.
While it’s always best to overestimate rather than underestimate when preparing party food, these handy guidelines will help you minimize waste while ensuring you have enough food and drinks to host a successful event!