How to Cater the Right Amount of Food

Catering involves a lot more technicalities than simply designing a menu with your cater. One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to catering an event is improperly estimated how much food to cater. Under-serving is inconvenient and unprofessional, while over-serving is not cost-effective.

So how do you know how much food to serve at your catered event? There are several factors that influence this, so it is important to know these factors and consider them thoroughly before making any final arrangements. If you have an upcoming event that must be catered, be sure to estimate the amount of food you will need as accurately as possible. Continue reading to learn some tips on how to do just that!

How Much Food Do You Need?

If you over-serve food at your event, you are wasting money. If you under-serve, you are not properly caring for the food and beverage needs of your guests. So before you choose a catering menu, you must first gauge how much food you will need. Here’s what to ask yourself:

  1. How many people are attending my event?
  2. What type of event is it?
  3. How long is my event?

The answers to these questions will give you the tools you need to order the perfect amount of food for your occasion. For example, a family reunion that lasts all day will require more food and beverage than an office meeting that only lasts a couple of hours. In another example, a cocktail party will need less food and more beverage than a business breakfast or luncheon. Use your answers to figure out how many people you are feeding, and how long you will need to feed them for. Then meet with your caterer to determine which menu items best meets the needs of your event and guests.

Planning Appetizers and Hors D’eouvres

For events that are centered on cocktails and drinks, such as a meet and greet, plan on only serving appetizers. The general rule of thumb is 8-10 appetizers per guest.

For mid-day events that will have a light meal, such as luncheons, plan on serving less appetizers. A good starting point would be 3-5 appetizers per guest.

For events with sit-down dinners as their focus, fewer appetizers are needed. Stick with 1-3 appetizers per guest.

Breakfast

For breakfast events, it is recommended to have beverages, side items, main entrees, and desserts. As for beverages, plan on 2 beverages per guest. For main entrees, a single 5 ounce portion per guest should suffice. And for sides, plan on having two sides per guest. Then plan for a wide selection of pastries or desserts, two per guest.

Lunches:

  • Beverages – 2 per guest
  • Appetizers – 2-4 per guest
  • Entrees – 5 ounce portion per guest
  • Sides – 2-3 per guest

Dinners:

  • Beverages – 2-3 per guest
  • Appetizers – 3-5 Hors d’oeurvres per guest
  • Starters – 1 soup or 1 salad per guest
  • Entrees – 7 ounce portion per guest
  • Sides – 3 per guest
  • Dessert – 2 servings per guest

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