How to determine the amount of food by number of people

Updated April 15, 2017

If you are planning a large event you need to know how much food to prepare for the number of people expected. The purpose of the event should determine the type of food prepared. A brunch will include breakfast dishes, such as eggs and bacon with biscuits. A buffet dinner might include hot meals or cold cuts and salads. When deciding on a menu include dishes you are experienced in, which you can make ahead and freeze, but can be reheated with ease. Chef Menu suggests serving meals that are proven, such as chicken and pasta. Keep in mind food allergies when planning the menu.

Fix breakfast meals for brunch that include pancakes at 3.18kg. per 50 guests; for French toast you will need about four loaves; biscuits, muffins and bagels are calculated at two per guest. Included in brunch for 50 guests is scrambled eggs at eight-and-a-half dozen, 2.72kg. of bacon, 4.54 to 5.44kg. of sausage, four loaves of bread and a pound of butter.

Supply 227gr. of drinks per person. That includes soft drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade, tea and punch. You will need 5.22kg. of coffee for 50 people. Divide that by two for 25 guests and double for 100 guests. Include 2 1/2 pints of half-and-half dairy cream and 340gr. of sugar per 50 guests.

Fix a spaghetti dinner with four to five 2.72kg. boxes of spaghetti, 6 quarts of sauce and 4.54kg. of hamburger for meatballs. You will need 5 gallons of tossed salad and six dozen rolls to finish off a meal for 50 people. If you prefer serving meats, the yields for 50 guests are 5.44kg. of meat, poultry and fish. For cold cuts, consider 3.63kg. plus 4lb. of cheese slices.

Serve salads with cold cut meals such as potato and coleslaw at 2 gallons per 50 guests. Chicken salad can serve as a main dish at 3 gallons or a side dish that includes 1 1/2 gallons per 50 people. Vegetables for hot dishes should include 18 to 22lb. of potatoes (raw), frozen corn, spinach, green beans and peas at 4.54kg. per 50 people.

Include condiments in the planning. You will need 907gr. of mayonnaise, 227gr. of mustard, 1134gr. of ketchup, and 1 qt. of salad dressing per 50 guests. Figure 2 qt. of pickles, relish and salsa.

Cook enough desserts for 50 people, figuring that two large sheet cakes; 13 by 9 inches, will be enough. If you like pies, serve seven to eight and include 2 gallons of ice cream for "à la mode."


Serve foods less likely to cause allergic reactions.

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About the Author

Vickie Van Antwerp began her career as a technical writer for a consulting firm in 1987. Now a freelance writer in her fields of interest, her writings appear on, and in "The Phelps Connection" and "The Storyteller." Van Antwerp holds an Associate of Arts in liberal arts from Gloucester County College and certification as a surgical technologist from Lenoir College.