# How to calculate cost & quantities of catering food

Written by osmond vitez
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Catering is a common way chefs and cooks use their skills to start a business or to earn extra income. Caterers typically prepare meals on location for events such as weddings, business meetings and birthday parties. To have a successful catering business, you need to know how to calculate food costs and quantities needed for the event. Food costs can increase without a proper plan in place, meaning less money in your pocket when the event is finished.

Skill level:
Easy

## Instructions

1. 1

Determine the number of guests. This will effect the cost and food quantity calculations.

2. 2

Calculate food cost using a percentage. All Food Business proposes food costs between 22 and 34 per cent of total expenses. This allows for a minimum of 66 per cent for labour and other expenses.

3. 3

Calculate food cost per plate. A more technical way to determine food cost is breaking down elements of the menu item into its individual cost. For example, a whole chicken costs £1.90 and makes three dishes. The cost per plate for chicken is 60p each. Continue this for each item in the dish.

1. 1

Create a dish using standard portion sizes. Government or private organisations provide information on an average, per-dish food quantity. This can provide chefs and cooks with a standard guideline for food portion; however, buffet-style events may need more food than a plate event.

2. 2

Prepare for 10 per cent more food. In general, adding 10 per cent to the amount of food you need is a simple way to have a few extra plates ready for the event. Caterers can include these extra plates in the price of the food for the event. Any extra outside of this may result in a price increase.

3. 3

Offer inexpensive appetizers. This will cut down on food for the meal. Cheap appetizers can be filling and result in lower quantities of food eaten for the meal, reducing costs.

#### Tips and warnings

• Each event is different. For example, weddings are more formal. Guests may consume less food than they would at a family reunion, where eating among friends and family is more common. Planning for these situations can impact food cost and quantity.
• Having a specific goal or amount of money to spend on events can help control food costs.

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