How to calculate food per person

Updated February 21, 2017

If you are throwing a dinner party or providing food for a crowd, you will need to know how much to prepare. The best way to do this is to calculate the food per person for the event, then multiply that number by the expected guests. When you plan carefully, you will avoid wasting food or not having enough for everyone.

Discuss with a professional caterer or party planner your menu. Find out which dishes are likely to be the most popular and plan to make more of those than others. You can also poll some of the guests or ask them to tell you a main dish preference from several choices when they RSVP.

Determine if you will offer a buffet or a sit-down meal. You will need to account for more food per person and more variety with a buffet.

Determine appetizers for a cocktail party by allowing four to six per person for each hour of the party. If a dinner will be served after the appetizers, only plan for six per person.

Allow for 170gr to 227gr of your main meat per person. If you are serving pasta as a main course, it will be 227gr, but only 85.1gr as a first course and 56.7gr as a side. Rice main dishes should be 56.7gr per person but only 42.5gr for a side dish.

Decrease the amount for a main course if you are serving more than one option at a buffet by about 28.4gr to 2 oz. The greater number of options means people will likely have a smaller amount of many different things.

Look at your side dishes and allot roughly 113gr of vegetables, 142gr of potatoes and 56.7gr of beans or pasta per person. For leafy green salads, assume 28.4gr per person before adding dressing.

For desserts, allow 113gr of ice cream or pudding per person, or one slice of cake or pie. If you will have more than one type of dessert (such as cake and ice cream), then halve these amounts.

Weigh your foods as you prepare them to be sure there will be enough in the finished dish. You can weigh all of the ingredients before cooking and add up all of these amounts to get the total weight of the dish. Divide this number by the number of guests and you should get the amounts needed.

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