How to calculate food quantities for parties

Written by erica sweeney
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How to calculate food quantities for parties
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Knowing how much food to serve to guests is one of the trickiest aspects of throwing a party. It is something that you want to get just right. You do not want your guests to go hungry but you also do not want to eat leftovers for weeks after the party. Calculating the correct quantities of food to serve at a party largely depends on the type of food that you plan to serve and how you serve it.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine how many people will attend the party. Having a headcount is an essential first step in calculating food quantities.

  2. 2

    Decide what type of food you plan to serve. For example, you may serve hors d’oeuvres, pizza, meats or fish, salad or casseroles.

  3. 3

    Choose a method for serving the food. A buffet may be the most effective method because it can be assumed that everyone will not eat everything on the buffet, whereas at a sit-down meal, guests likely will eat everything on the plates that are given to them. Food estimates for a buffet tend to be a little less than estimates for a sit-down meal.

  4. 4

    Serve about five to six ounces of meat, poultry or fish per person. For a buffet, you can often decrease the amount to four to six ounces per person.

  5. 5

    Calculate hors d’oeuvres and other appetizers at 10 to 12 items per person.

  6. 6

    Calculate fruits and vegetables at about five pieces per person. If you are serving a salad, base the quantity on one handful of salad per person.

  7. 7

    Calculate about two tbs. of dip and about 1-1/2 cups of chips for each guest.

  8. 8

    Calculate desserts per guest at about two cookies, one slice of cake or about 1/2 cup of ice cream.

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